Valentina Curandi: Student Presentation An inquiry into the production of reproduction through an artistic proposition making dispositions for the end of life

Advisor/tutor: Rachel O’ Reilly
Arnhem, March 2018


The following thesis accompanies the artistic project pursued during my master’s study at the Dutch Art Institute. I began the program while simultaneously confronting issues of personal and creative mortality in a body conditioned by a post-child-birth immunitarian deficiency. This circumstance led to an artistic project inviting the school into a reflection on mortality as a temporal intensification of obligations in the management of personal relations. The work started by reflecting on the transference, in a public context, of gestures deemed legal when performed privately. The decision of donating the body of my artistic work to the school had a leading question: what is this structure of bequeathment between the body of the bequeather and the body that accepts the gift? I was then confronted by the legal boundaries defining my interests as separated into genealogical and individual (autological) levels. An instance of immunization appeared within the will to form obligations towards genealogical priorities. The situation brought forth another question: by inviting a paradoxically contractual intensification of intimacy with the school is it possible to exit the lines of obligation? The Lawful binding of the subject to obligation formed an understanding of the production of reproduction in contractual neoliberal times. The thesis reflects on the connection between intimacy (forming bonds) and subjective freedom (in the figure of the will) where norms for the production of reproduction in sexed bodies form.

My theoretical analysis begins in chapter one with analyzing the role of contractualism in defining liberal and neoliberal subjectivity as dependent on relations of performance of affective bondage. Then, I move onto a reflection on how the concept of self-management, in moving between conceptualizations of freedom and manipulation of enslavement, indicates the need for tracing a historical lineage of the development of contract theory and its inherent exclusion of the female subject, among others. In chapter two I unfold the materiality of my contractual proposal as it forms the argumentative nucleus of contractualism, while exploring the paradoxical nature of its locuses: me as gendered and sexualized material (woman) and the body of work to be bequeathed as both material and an immaterial artistic gesture and legal performative act. This brought me to issues of alienation and disembodiment that confirm the construction of personhood, or how the paradox of the concept of nature is prone to cultural objectification. The topic of the governance of intimacy enters as I reflect on the manipulation of states of reality and virtuality of bodily im/materiality. In chapter three I inquire into the language of immunity as this adheres to the inoculating effects of contracting and creating opposite forces within my will: the performance of reproduction in biology confronts the demands of genealogical protection and functionality in ways that contrast immunitarian operativity in the factuality of pregnancy. I return to my own work in an effort to contextualize the interventions as part of an ongoing research on what can be entailed performativity in such a gift, donation, rest, remain and reminder of myself(1).

(1) As deemed necessary to the writing of a last will and testamentcontractual device.