For Nancy, as for many other French philosophers at the end of the 20th century, practicing philosophy today is “no longer a specialized, technical exercise”; it is related to literary activity. Through writing, Nancy aspires to explore the limits of human experience; he believes it is important to reason through an entire set of ideas that make up something like a conceptual framework for our modern civilization.
One of these ideas is the concept of sense. In French as in English, the word sense is used as “meaning”, but it also means “feeling” or “sensory organ”. This is why the French thinker inevitably turns to the subject of sensations and the corporeal, and Corpus is a vivid confirmation of this.
Valeria Nibiru’s project of the same name is a multidimensional installation that temporarily turns the gallery space into an integrated biological structure, organism, or microcosm, visualized in the surrealistic textile objects, watercolor drawings, and paintings.
Modern Western culture has lost the primordial experience of the body. This experience remains the privilege of the Third World. The body, in order to remain the body, must laugh, dance, endure hunger and disfigurement, and so on. The West deals not with the body, but with “flesh”, “skin”, “faces”, and “muscles”. In other words, the strategies of modern culture deal with corporeal fragments, and not with the body as a whole: “flesh” is the property of cultivated sexuality, “skin” is the object of cosmetic manipulations, “faces” are what remains of the body’s wholeness when it is transferred to the TV screen, and “muscles” are the subject of bodybuilding and sports medicine. In this sense, the West is suffering a corporeal catastrophe, and the opportunity to “touch” the body has been reduced to almost nothing.
The body is the basis of my existence within a chronotope – it is the formula of the time I am embodying. The body designates my presence in reality, changing as this reality is experienced. The body carries the mark of all that it has lived through; it is the shell, the mask, the presentation of the soul. The soul is held by the body inside the structure of a singular eventfulness. The body gives the soul a story with a beginning, development, and ending. The body reveals the line between the soul – I – and everything else, thus giving the soul a chance to be – to be an independent, self-expressed unit. To have a boundary between itself and the world. The body does not simply contain the soul – it is itself the soul, expressed in time. Without the body, without boundaries, the soul cannot be separated from everything else, and does not exist. The fact of existence is based on time, and time acts as a boundary. The boundary between Everything and Me. My body is my time.
On both sides of the border, there is the cosmos. On one side, there is the endlessly expanding universe, filled with planets and stars; on the other, there is a similar but infinitely diminishing biouniverse, filled with cells and atoms originating in time. And the starting point of it all is I, expressed by my body. I observe as the world happens inside me and outside me. I start the machinery of existence with my presence. I limit the time of everything’s existence by my existence within it. The world occurs from me and in me, and it all happens while I am separating myself from the world.