While we can pull up images of naked bodies on our phones or laptops in an instant, there is one place we still so seldom get to see the unadulterated human form: in person. Though the nude form in present tense can be hard to come by, 34-year-old artist Eddie Peake is changing that with his new commission The Forever Loop at Barbican Centre in London.
Staged in Barbican's Curve gallery, Eddie Peake has created a "web of architectural installations" spanning choreographed performance, sculptural elements, painting, and video that foreground the naked body. With the desire for the naked performers' movements to exist "outside of any kind of binary gender code" while still invoking sexuality, Peake has crafted a continuous live performance featuring both men and women (some on rollerskates, some not) set across a half-constructed plaster wall, raised scaffolding, a checkered dance floor, acrylic bears, and assorted structural oddities. A stenciled wall text painting made from squeegeed fluorescent pink paint adorns the wall of the 90-meter long curved gallery and provides a suggested trajectory for visitors to follow.
The performance, which is done in loop both in the senses of time and space, is engaged is a constant state of becoming. Visitors navigate the gallery with measured autonomy while nude performers are laid literally bare before them. The naked bodies appear somewhat demystified, yet their elevation to the status of art and the tacit understanding that they may not be touched creates a frenetic tension between desire and unattainability. Touching on sexual notions of stamina and endurance, as well as labor and fatigue, the nude performers will enact the piece for 10 hours a day, 7 days a week, for 3 full months.
Peake, who is represented by White Cube gallery, became a cause célèbre when he first staged his piece Touch at the Royal Academy in March 2012, later brought to the Tate. In the piece, Peake staged a naked five-a-side football match in Burlington Gardens where the two teams were differentiated only be their socks and shoes. No stranger to using live-nudity-as-form, Peake has again created a spectacle that challenges viewers to return without fear to the form that exists as the basis of all human life.
Eddie Peake: The Forever Loop is on at The Curve at Barbican Centre from October 9, 2015 to January 10, 2016. Click here for more info.