This exhibition is a result of a three-month residency in Strasbourg during which I was exploring several issues connected with the body and its circumstances.
When I came to Strasbourg I was trying to search for objects in the public space that have a certain sculptural form but cannot be defined as a monument or a statue as we know it. I was looking for something that affects a person on a more everyday level without any direct didactic or ideological meaning.
Eventually I came across an unusual set of objects that seemed to perfectly fit my purpose. As I kept returning I usually found them abandoned and not in use (one of them was temporarily repurposed as a camp for refugees). They were reminiscent of so many things – sea creatures, medical tools, old-fashioned instruments, BDSM tools, and I wondered who designed these public exercise machines.
They were odd metal and plastic structures usually tucked away in a park or they decorated the side of a cycle path. The instructions accompanying these structures were also curious. Sexless pitiful figures in contorted positions posed together with text helping non-existent sportspeople to shape their bodies. ‘Perhaps it was the end of the season or some epoch when people were interested in exercising outdoors’, I thought.
I am often inspired by signs, colors and symbols that give our everyday life certain direction; restrict unwanted behavior or are meant to protect us from some kind of danger. The ways we process these signs depend on our literacy and will. I like the play of symbols taken out of their context, put into new place or arrangement that offers new ways of reading and interaction.
These exercise machines seemed to be the materialization of a certain ideology. Standing here in a public place supporting the idea of maintenance of a healthy body. One day I decided to participate and jogged along to one of those stations. I tried to decode the symbols and use these dirty, neglected cold machines and stretch my body and strengthen my muscles. It was uncomfortable, I felt awkward, cumbersome and ridiculous.
My taking part in this game seemed like a good metaphor for larger games that our bodies are subjected to and destined to play. It seems as if we move carefully or recklessly across in different directions of the board with only partial knowledge or our own interpretation of the rules. We are taught to read and understand instructions. And somehow we only have our abilities, luck and a set of circumstances to depend on.