forwearezero and the future of the body.

By Joel Ivan Thomas.

I venture outside once a day. My walking patterns swerve to avoid incoming crowds, I wear a mask while I buy a sandwich from the bakery, and I dawdle home, collecting some of the few rays of sun filtering through Berlin’s springtime clouds. I’ve had to readjust my relationship with my body because of the pandemic — it is simultaneously a threat and under-threat.

Forwearezero is a collective of eleven artists hailing from the Academy of Fine Arts (AdBK) in Munich that was exploring the concept of embodiment prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Originally, they were planning a physical or “analogue” exhibition for which they would create works and performances that ask questions about the future of the body:

“What kind of issues will happen if people in society can’t pay someone to take care of old people? Maybe the caregivers will be replaced by robots. Or, what if you become a cyborg because organs of yours are being transplanted and now you’re half-machine and half-human? How does society value these kinds of shifts?”

Speaking is Tatjana Vall, a member of Forwearezero, whose own work explores the future of hypnosis in medicine and beyond. Tatjana hopes that the exhibition will encourage people to consider both future prospects of the body and also the ever-changing social constructs we’ve built around our bodies now. “It reflects our current behaviour,” she explains.

“We developed all of our artworks under the idea of being perceived in an immersive space,” says Tatjana, who, like Sebastian Quast (an advisor in this project), wants to take advantage of aestheticizing the digital aspect of online exhibition spaces. “Why not make the video the size of a cinema,” she says. You will also be able to see these works through the eyes of an avatar (a digital extension of your own body), you’ll be able to chat with your friends with a microphone, and fly around the space together. The collective is also planning various events such as guided tours and talks.

Tatjana's avatar walking through the exhibition space.

We’re at a time where advances in technology are both beneficial and adverse for our bodies. Developments in medicine have indisputably aided human survival and increased life expectancy, however, globalisation and advances in weaponry have also been an ongoing threat to us as a species.

The way we see our bodies will always be changing due to the social, environmental, and technological conditions forced upon us, and I’m looking forward to exploring this in a virtual space where I don’t have to hold in my pollen-allergenic sneezes out of fear that I’ll infect someone.

There are no images or descriptions of artworks as the artists want to keep the work hidden until unveiled at the exhibition opening tomorrow - May 17, 2020 (CEST) - at FOE Gallery. The show runs for a whole year in various formations and collaborations.