12 June 2016 - 8 January 2017
Never before has technology had a greater influence on the body. Our physical selves can increasingly be monitored and, when necessary, improved. And the relation between the human body and its surroundings has never been subjected to so much control. Why not freeze your eggs until you’ve had a successful career and then have children? Or take a chemical test to determine whether you’re really in love? And instead of following a diet, use intelligent cutlery that knows precisely what a daily portion of healthy food is. We are constantly faced with the choice: buy or boycott, opt-in or opt-out.
With universal themes such as Birth, Work, Sex, Security and Health, the exhibition The Life Fair: New Body Products explores how the quest for an optimal body has developed into a highly competitive market. First and foremost in the development of goods and services: commercial parties whose products exploit the fears and desires underlying our physical capacities and vulnerabilities. But governments and NGOs also stand to benefit from our wellbeing, especially when it is connected with collective interests such as the formation of an open or indeed a fully disciplined society. And so they will try to condition us. Artists and designers then introduce their own agendas into this diverse range of options. The perfecting of the body is increasingly the subject of critical discussion and imagination. At the intersection of politics, economics, ethics, design and technology, the human body has become a battlefield of varied and often conflicting forces.
The Life Fair does not make value judgements about the products, services and scenarios on show. Its neutral position is reflected in the choice of typology. Just as in any trade fair, visitors of The Life Fair must navigate between all these commercial, social, ethical and ideological interests. They will see how improvements in one domain may have a damaging effect on another. And they will constantly be faced with the choice: shall I participate in or resist programming my ideal body?
Exhibitions and activities programme related to the Olympic Games
For Het Nieuwe Instituut, the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro have provided a springboard for devoting a large part of its programming in 2016 to the human body. Not only the physical achievements of individual athletes but also the crowds of people who will be monitored, analysed and manipulated as a collective body by advanced technologies: 24 hours a day. Technological innovations have created a situation in which the body of the citizen and that of the state, the city and the public realm can be more efficiently moulded into an ideal image. The body is being designed at all levels and media play a crucial role in recording and propagating these innovations.
The programme comprises the following exhibitions:
- The Life Fair. New Body Products
- Control Syntax Rio. Monitoring the Collective Body
- Space Embodied. The Russian Art of Movement 1920–1930
- 51 Sprints
- Munich 1972. The Design of a Democratic Body
- Platform. Body/Space
Note for editors:
For more information and/or images please contact Ester Martens, Het Nieuwe Instituut Department of Marketing, Communications and Commerce by email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone +31 (0)10-4401268.
See also the webmagazine The Life Fair