The Thinking Body
Organized with Elise Lammer
The Thinking Body is the most comprehensive exhibition, to this day, on the life and work of Cathy Josefowitz (1956–2014). Organized in collaboration with Kunsthaus Langenthal and the Centre culturel suisse in Paris, the show in Rome is the last chapter of a project with common threads and local focuses.
By bringing together the entire range of Josefowitz’s artistic output, in which paintings and drawings dialogue and overlap with choreography, the exhibition reflects the artist’s effort to reconcile media which have too often been treated as disparate in art historical discourse. The body—in motion and in relation to other bodies—constitutes the core of her oeuvre, most of which has never been exhibited.
Josefowitz studied set design at the Théâtre National de Strasbourg before moving to Paris where she earned a degree in visual arts at the École Nationale des Beaux-Arts. In the late 1970s, while living in the United States, she discovered dance, then primal theatre, and later, while studying in Falmouth (UK) at Dartington College of Arts, she encountered contact improvisation and anatomical release dance techniques pioneered, respectively, by Steve Paxton and Mary Fulkerson. Her own research into the interrelation between the choreography of movement and the painterly gesture began in 1987 while she attended the School for New Dance Development in Amsterdam.
The Thinking Body draws from the title of Mabel Elsworth Todd’s (1880 – 1956) homonymous 1937 book on somatic learning, which deeply inspired Josefowitz’s research and artistic approach to the body, its infinite possibilities as well as limitations. The exhibition adopts a largely thematic approach, illustrating the artist’s early experimentations inspired by European art and artists from the first half of the twentieth century. Her progressive shift towards exploring her own body and those of the people she loved culminated in her focus on the relationship between the body and space, leading her ultimately towards abstraction. A series of drawings on hotel and restaurant receipts, made while the artist was living in Italy in the late 1980s and early 1990s, are shown for the first time in the Rome chapter of the exhibition.
The exhibition includes a satellite event on 28 May 2022, hosted by the Istituto Svizzero in Rome featuring a performative work by Swiss-American artist Garrett Nelson (1982).
With the support of
Les Amis de Cathy Josefowitz, Geneva
Centre culturel suisse. Paris
Kunsthaus Langenthal, Switzerland
Arsenic – Centre d’art scénique contemporain, Lausanne
La Becque | Résidence d’artistes, La Tour-de-Peilz
Istituto Svizzero, Rome
Heartfelt thank you to Beppe Sebaste