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October 21, 2022

Field Notes: Monica Seiceanu on Adina Pintilie, “You Are Another Me—A Cathedral of the Body,” Romanian Pavilion, 59th Venice Biennale

Art & Education

Adina Pintilie, “You Are Another Me—A Cathedral of the Body.” Installation view, Romanian Pavilion, 59th Venice Biennale, April 23–November 27, 2022. Photo: Monica Seiceanu.

Adina Pintilie, “You Are Another Me—A Cathedral of the Body.” Installation view, Romanian Pavilion, 59th Venice Biennale, April 23–November 27, 2022. Photo: Monica Seiceanu.

Adina Pintilie, “You Are Another Me—A Cathedral of the Body.” Installation view, Romanian Pavilion, 59th Venice Biennale, April 23–November 27, 2022. Photo: Monica Seiceanu.

Field Notes: Adina Pintilie, “You Are Another Me — A Cathedral of the Body,” Romanian Pavilion, 59th Venice Biennale
by Monica Seiceanu

As the adage goes, the medium is the message. In Adina Pintilie’s “You Are Another Me — A Cathedral of The Body,” at the Romanian Pavilion, 59th Venice Biennale, the mediums of installation and film not only distinguish the exhibition from the artist’s previous cinematographic works but also transform it into something more than the sum of its parts. Presented in a dark room containing six screens and a white room with three more that form a teleprompter, the installation presents deep reflections on love, desire, and corporeality, in scenes performed the by transgender activist Hanna Hofmann, actors Laura Benson, Hermann Müller, and Dirk Lange, and disability rights activists Christian Bayerlein and Grit Uhlemann. In the installation’s reterritorialization of cinematic elements—moving images and sound—Pintilie’s films become kinesthetic experiences. Displaying filmed explorations of intimacy in a multiscreen installation facilitates the viewer’s integration into the portrayed stories, relationships, and spaces, to the point of totally immersing the viewer in the film so that voyeurism evolves into identification and the exhibition serves as a cathedralesque space of acceptance, learning, and, ultimately, boundless celebration. The viewer’s absorption into the exhibition space encourages a psychosomatic understanding that differences of age, gender, sexual orientation, and ability are not sufficient reasons to divide the self from others nor to perpetuate distinctions between the “normal” and the pathological. Transgressing those normative and exclusive dichotomies is inherent to the experience of “You Are Another Me.”

Pintilie’s films offer an alternative to the state of separation in which our bodies have been kept in recent years and show six people in their utmost vulnerability disclosing the ordinarily private moments of their bodily and cerebral experiences. Following calls by public health officials to maintain social distancing during the pandemic, Pintilie’s films remind that closeness does not necessarily entail danger and that the body and mind do not thrive in isolation. Christian Bayerlein’s confession during the last few minutes of the film, of his feeling like a brain carried around without a body, while specific to his own experience, subtly hints at the sensation of quarantine and the current resurgence of biopolitics, which Pintilie seeks to counter in her work. Moreover, the perception of confinement in one’s mind is a symptom of the mind–body dualism that privileges intellect over corporeal sensation. In the narratives it presents, Pintilie’s film installation surfaces the conflict created by intellect’s dominance over corporeal experience: certain sources of pleasure are pathologized, guilt often attends and occasionally results from such satisfactions, differently-abled bodies are neglected, and personal identity can be lost.

Read more of Monica Seiceanu’s Field Notes review on Art & Education.

Field Notes is a series of reviews from the next generation of art writers. Featuring texts on the 59th Venice Biennale and Documenta 15 contributed by students and recent graduates, Field Notes makes original connections between the work and the world and takes a closer look at what other observers might have missed.

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