Dana Kopel

21 April 2024

20:32 EDT

Abstract Sex*
8–29 May 2016
Hessel Museum of Art, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY

Juliette Bonneviot, Jesse Darling, Dorota Gaweda and Egle Kulbokaite, Marian Tubbs

abstract sex* website

Sex today demands reconceptualization. Not simply a relational act between humans or animals, nor exclusively a set of performative or discursive practices, sex manifests as a matrix of diffuse processes encoded in material, molecular, digital and biochemical formations. Abstract Sex* imagines a post-sex adequate to a radically expanded conception of what it is to be human: a technologically and biopolitically produced agglomeration of symbiotic organisms beneath the increasingly tenuous veneer of a coherent body or self.

Necessarily, sex will mutate, reshape itself. New forms of sex emerge at sites of mutual transfer and fields of viral exchange and contamination, whether biological or digital. Following Luciana Parisi, the exhibition insists on an abstract sex that occurs between porous bodies—at once virtual and tangible, inorganic and alive. The body is the site where bacteria intersect with larger socio-cultural and economic systems. Sex is the event in which these macro- and microscopic systems transmit, transform and reproduce.

Abstract Sex* relies on queer theory’s expansion of the idea of sex as practice and system of signification, acknowledging yet moving beyond the coding of certain materials, forms, and bodies as feminine. Abstract Sex* treats gender and desire as political abstractions. Accordingly, Abstract Sex* foregoes the literal representations of sex organ and copulation imagery that were once viable revolts against the repression and heteronormalization of sex. If sex in the biopolitical regime was constituted as a site of both regulatory and emancipatory power, Abstract Sex* recognizes that visibility, as a strategy of sexual liberation, is now easily absorbed in the service of technocapitalism.

Works by Juliette Bonneviot, Jesse Darling, Dorota Gaweda & Egle Kulbokaite, and Marian Tubbs constitute preliminary attempts to articulate sex as a de-individuated force embedded in abstract processes of circulation, transmission, and replication—processes that reproduce, but might also be used against, the biotechnical power that generates and controls contemporary life. 

Abstract Sex* is curated by Dana Kopel as part of the requirements for the Masters of Arts degree at the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College.

*after Luciana Parisi