In the early months of 2020, a group of students from the Royal College of Art came together to plan an exhibition. Due to take place in April, outside of the key-carded corridors and beyond the walls of The Academy, the multi-disciplinary show would be called Careless Limbs. But then, just like “The Hanged Man” of Dolly Kershaw’s gif, the exhibition was suspended, along with life as we all knew it.
Facing death we have two options: rebirth, or persistence. At this strange juncture, we were forced to explore the work of these twelve students anew, some of which has been given a different life, all of which we now experience not on or within gallery walls, but in our bedrooms, in the ether, physically separated as we all are but connected, a community nonetheless. Within this new body of work, all made in 2020, with its new set of iterations, we at ARC couldn’t help but linger on the isolated, at turns confused and then seemingly delirious, ﬂesh. As we began to feel like Limbs in Limbo, a work by Romane Courdacher, staring through a mirror darkly, questioning the refraction of the light, we threw up our arms and danced in our bedrooms with the works of Natalia Levy Villa and Ana Fernanda González-Guerra Nuñez to feel— what exactly? Freedom? Constraint? Despair? For are we groundless or ﬂoating? Regardless of the dangle between metamorphosis and egotism, Alejandro Villa Duran’s video piece in Entre la más oscura de mi cumbias: Soledad (a collaboration with Natalia Levy Villa and Ana Fernanda González-Guerra Nuñez) reminded us that a levitating bottom is a thing of beauty. Slow the body down.
And when the body is slowed, now take it back in time. Tamir Erlich and Noy Haomovitz ask: do you “Remember 2009?” Through a DIRTY decade we have been wrung, wrought, wrenched and left wondering — when will we learn that “Carelessness causes ﬁres”, as Knuka Knayu explores? Who foots the bill when we burn? If 2016 taught us the negative capacities of nostalgia, perhaps 2020 will remind us of its possibilities. Only time will tell, and it is time for something new. Perhaps we will, collectively, take matters into our own hands, consult our palms alongside Ariel Helyes in her work Vampire and outwit the future.
It’s been a strange year thus far, and we are all reeling, all seething and stinking and on a precipice, once again — when are we never on the cusp of something? It feels unsettling. And it tickles a bit. It’s also exhausting. Like the untethered balloons in Jess Beige’s piece, Here Dreams of Being There, the bodies in Careless Limbs tease boundaries, ﬂirt with the liminal as objects are released into it — Ed Compson’s ‘Kite Two’, stretching into the sky — or become a part of it — Kiki Xuebing Wang’s caressed pineapple-cat in her untitled video work.
And what of dreams? What DIRTY little darlings will come when the body is released from here to there? Who will you sniff? How will you move, and to what tune? How will we ﬁnd release?
What will we remember?
Careless Limbs is a collaboration between twelve students from the Fine Art department at the Royal College of Art (Sculpture and Painting). Their exhibition was originally planned to take place in SafeHouse 2 Peckham in April 2020. Some of their work now features within the pages of the magazine, and the whole exhibition can be found at carelesslimbs.cargo.site