A Body without its Flesh an ongoing project by Benjamin Francis

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A feature on artist Benjamin Francis‘s. His research focuses on non-harmonic chords and errors shifted to related themes such as discipline, power relations, hierarchy, religion, and cleansing. Through a juxtaposition of several disciplines and hierarchical systems, he tries to force systemic errors that lay bare the foundations of power and vulnerability involved in human growth. His work consists of performances, sculptures, and elements of texts.

How did you choose your career path?

I think from the age of 9 I started with getting quite ambitious creative ideas. It started by seeing sci-fi movies and getting inspired by them. I remember how from the beginning ones in the 3 months I would enter my brother’s room at night and showed him my “at point new career goal” always with a drawing wherein I showed him one of my new designs.

In the beginning, it would be a storyboard for a new movie but in 2 years this had shifted from robot design to product design, fashion, and movies, and the other way around. In the beginning, my brother took my ideas quite seriously and cheered me on, but after a while coming into his room every single night to show modern ideas became for him more annoying.

I also remember how I sometimes got quite annoyed that I wasn’t able to make a robot already, but this feeling of creating was something I just needed to do. Even though there was no robot, at least there was a drawing. And this kind of thought process somehow still seems logical to me, I don’t feel bad still of all the unfinished ideas because I was always able to be in conversation with people to show these ideas to. That to me maybe is the beauty of art. I can tell you that even 3 weeks ago I told one of the organizers of an art space that I could imagine myself having a restaurant at some point in my life. ( meanwhile, all my friends know that I’m a horrible cook)”

– Benjamin Francis graduated from ArtEZ BEAR (Arnhem) in 2020.

About A Body without its Flesh

A body without it's Flesh by Benjamin Francis Graduate from ArtEZ BEAR (Arnhem) in 2020.

A Body Without Its Flesh is an ongoing research project that evolved from Benjamin Francis’s interest in dance performances and the realization that the errors that occur during the rehearsals in a dance class are often more interesting than the eventual performance.

After the project’s initial output (the 2020 performance Copy and Paste as well as some sculptural works) his research into the non-harmonic chords and errors shifted to related themes such as discipline, power relations, hierarchy, religion, and cleansing resulting in a new performance. This new performance deals with some of the dogma’s that exist within the art world as well as the notion of making mistakes that occur ‘in translation’, eventually resulting in something resembling a ritual that is echoing the concepts that underlay the various props and sculptures that are present in the installation.

While self-consciousness depends on internal and external processes inside and outside the body, the body as such does not likewise depend on self-consciousness, causing a form of asymmetry in their joint movement. The body creates errors that influence our ability to be fully conscious, which in turn causes us to unconsciously feel things or to be touched by something without actually sensing it.

For his second presentation at P/////AKT Francis has created a setting that is both theatrical and ceremonial: a stage, a classroom, and a morgue — inhabited by sculptures and props that reflect on the different references and, at set times, by performers and an audience. A Body Without Its Flesh is both an exhibition and an activated setting for performance, addressing body and space, repetition and imitation, decay and restoration. The performance takes place in the setting of a classroom and is executed by an audience member who will be asked to take on the role of the teacher and a group of performers who act like students.

Both are following a script in which various dogma’s relating to the art world and the mistakes that occur ‘in translation’, eventually resulting in something resembling a ritual that is echoing the concepts that underlay the various props and sculptures that are present in the installation.

Our tongues are being cleansed, and our computers are being rebooted. That what is uncertain is afraid of falling into the abyss, to a point where it becomes formless.

Words by Benjamin Francis

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