Andres Manniste: Bodies without organs... 2005


bodies without organs...

The tragedy reaches a higher level when Narcissus, at the moment when his tears disturb the pool, realizes not only that the loved image is his own, but furthermore that it can disappear — as if he had thought that, for want of touching, he could nevertheless be satisfied with contemplation alone (“let me keep looking at you always”), which has henceforth also become impossible.

Julia Kristeva

Giuseppe Di Leo pointed out the similarity in the approaches of Sefi Amir, Ilga Leimanis, Shelley Reeves and Kristi Ropeleski when he first suggested that they be invited to exhibit together. There is realism in Nochlin’s sense of a truthful, objective and impartial representation of the real world. There is also the predominance of meticulous rendering, especially in the portrait, which predominates a sparse if not empty background.

Why does one choose this manner of representation in a world saturated with the photomechanical? It could be that their work reminds us that we all possess the physical container of human perception. The mind itself works more like the body without organs (BwO) — desire without external reference as seen manifest in drug users, masochists, schizophrenics and lovers. (Deleuze and Guattari) These purveyors of an unattainable jouissance also happen to be the primary players in the narratives that these artists create.

Ilga Leimanis work, Lovers and Other Strangers is “about memory and the implied ‘distance between’. The work comes from images sent at her request in correspondence with friends and acquaintances. Double portraits are painted from these pictures. They are mediated through her relationship with the subjects and a subtle inverted authorship occurs. The diptychs are made with an intention of expressing the passage of experience that may have occurred between the pictures.


  Ilga Leimanis
Dallas, 2002-2003
oil on canvas
diptych, 180 X 140 cm each panel


Shelley Reeves uses the diptych to explore the duality of humanness. She wishes to express the mind-body paradox by symbolically painting her understanding of notions of inner-outer, public-private and self-other. For her subjects, again friends and acquaintances, the 'other' is sublimated into personally significant objects from which Reeves constructs her record of their physical passing through time.

For Reeves and Leimanis, the BwO resides in the subtle intercourse of memory. Jouissance is generated from the nostalgia of time consumed and relationships lived.

Kristi Ropeleski and Sefi Amir have a more intimate relationship with these priests of insatiable desire. A photograph is taken and quickly, before it disappears, is re-recorded through paint as if this medium was somehow more permanent.

In a hastier moment of life, one might have visited strange places to meet characters from novels that had not yet been written. Naive, we might have assumed that a washroom was a washroom and that drug addicts were always somewhere else. Sefi Amir finds her inspiration in these darker corners of experience.

Amir’s Night at the Skala andTwo by two use portraiture to show the Body without Organs as human experience. The paintings are crafted like jewels, which will remain, as a trace of lives dedicated to the simultaneously disastrous and banal consequences of desire. Her recent work titled, Never needed nobody, places the artist as an observer of jouissance. As Narcissus, she must be both an outsider and a participant. The mind’s eye is subjective by definition.

    Sefi Amir
left: Nicki, 2002
right: Gary, 2002
38 X 38 cm

Kristi Ropeleski paints feverishly as a good painter very well should. She is in a hurry to record lives that seem to be passing quicktime. Naked, they are the BwO described with paint. Is this self-portraiture? Probably not, since painting requires discipline that is absent in the pursuit of desire. Blood Harmony and Look at me when I’m talking to you are works from a maturing observer. Ropeleski participates through living, no more, no less.

The Body without Organs is disruptive and transgressing of organised social systems. Nakedness sheds the uniforms that place us within our respective contexts. There can be no end to portraiture since it responds to the desire to be perceived from the exterior of our mind’s eye.


  Kristi Ropeleski
oil on canvas
91 x 122 cm



Deleuze and Guattari. (1987) A Thousand Plateaus.
Kristeva, Julia. (1999) Narcisse: la nouvelle démence. Histoires d’amour.


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