This exhibition starts with an invitation - an invitation to face an Other without seeing. To welcome an Other without knowing. Because the face of the Other always hides. It is a mask that conceals the irreducible difference or Otherness. This mask, with neither an invitation nor with intention, shelters us from infinite alterity. As such, the face of the Other is invariably related to hospitality and to inclusion that in fact derives from radical Otherness.
In liberal democracies, visibility or representation and inclusion stand together. Making something or someone(s) visible is an important act in political and social struggles, especially for LGBTQ communities. Visibility is directly linked to representation and political power and to the right to protest. In the context of the arts, making something/someone visible is one of the most important strategies or consequences of socially and politically engaged art and of relational aesthetics).
However, visibility, especially when enforced, is associated with systems of colonisation, of surveillance, and control. For various groups such as refugees, transgender people, homeless people, people of colour, and religious minorities, visibility is always also a risk. Ask any black or brown kid who was stopped and searched, any visibly disabled person, any homeless person, any migrant who does not look like local, a veiled Muslim woman, any trans person who cannot “pass” or any queer-looking person - they will tell you what the dangers of visibility are. Beyond the issue of safety, visibility is reducing their being to a single identity - robbing them of their humanity and excluding them from the rest of society.
The visual, in the art world, as well as in social media (both of which are controlled by capitalist forces) is also linked, in different ways, to enforcement of particular aesthetic regimes, to body fascism, to the monetization of information and to exploitation and profit.
The works presented in this exhibition present two different approaches to the issue of visibility: one that uses visibility to make one's identity or certain issues visible, to amplify voices and as a tool of protest. Other works, sometimes even for the same ends, use masquerade, concealment and defacement or do away entirely with the visual and use audio and texts. These works highlight social and political issues and yet others question the politics of visibility itself.
The works point to the fact that the Other is more than what is visible. They use invisibility as an invitation, as a space where the viewer can dwell. As an act of radical hospitality, they create a place without designation (identity) for an unknown guest who is yet to come. Following Levinas, it can be said that in these works where “the totality breaks up” the viewer can find “the gleam of exteriority or transcendence in the face of the other” I believe that some of the works in “The Face of the Other” trace such spaces, and others - constituting it - offer the viewer a more ethical vision and less violent ways of seeing.
'The Face of the Other' is on display from 1st May- 12th June in the windows of The Ledward Centre and BMECP and as part of Brighton Festival and Brighton Fringe.
Curator: Gil Maulem-Doron
Contributing artists: Aubane Berthommé Martinez/ Arit Etukudo / Beth Easton
Charlie Wood / Constanza Miranda / Daniel Whiffen / Jenny Nash
Joseph Cabey/ Keith Race / L’Enfant/ Maria Amidu [with Ainoa Burgos Gonzalez /Gil Mualem Doron / Edi Jay Mandala / Estabrak / Hong Dam / Maria Amidu / Tugba Tirpan] /Mengwen Cao/ Najma Yusufi / Nelson Morales / Rayn Peter French
R.M. Sánchez-Camus/ Tugba Tirpan / Sisters Uncut (Frank Riot)
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