Shadi Al-Atallah | Unruly Bodies | CCA | London, UK

30 June –27 August, 2023

Opening Event: Thursday 29th June, 7–9pm


Participants: Shadi Al-Atallah, Giulia Cenci, Miriam Cahn, Camille Henrot, Galli, Ebecho Muslimova, Frida Orupabo, Anna Perach, Paloma Proudfoot, and collectively Clémentine Bedos, Verity Coward, Assia Ghendir, Holly Hunter.


‘I want to lay claim to the dark power of my monstrous identity without using it as a weapon against others or being wounded by it myself.’ [1]


Featuring thirteen women and non-binary artists, Unruly Bodies presents artworks that explore the experience of embodiment today. The exhibition includes work that presents the body as monstrous, abject, grotesque, and liminal. It asks why this kind of figuration has become ubiquitous in contemporary art, where rather than being a negative attribute, the unruly body is a site of resistance in which monstrosity is reclaimed as a subjectivity that disrupts normativity and contests power.


The exhibition follows Paul Preciado’s idea of the body as a ‘somatheque’, or a living archive that records the disciplining forces it has been subject to. Whether through gesture, action, or abstraction, the bodies in the exhibition viscerally evidence the emotional turbulence produced by living under conditions of patriarchy, misogyny, racism and ableism. Against the smooth and unified surface of normativity, the unruly body leaks, breaks apart, and laughs.


Artists in the exhibition draw on traditions of the grotesque, and abject, but shoot through these intersectional realities that expand and revise the terms. Historically held in a ‘low’ position, the unruly body is implicitly female, Black, crip, queer or other. The adoption of the aesthetic of the monster claims space for lived experiences that do not fit neatly into acceptable social conventions, and for those that are held as less-than-human. Through its liminality, and troubling of categories, the unruly body offers the possibility that the self is not fixed, but rather a complex web of interrelations in a constant state of flux.


[1] My Words to Victor Frankenstein above the Village of Chamounix; Performing Transgender Rage. Susan Stryker. 1994.


Crozier Fine Arts
Spazio A, Pistoia
Soy Capitan, Berlin

June 30, 2023