“Blind Orientations: Walking, Stumbling and Turning Towards New Points of View,” Essay to accompany solo exhibition by Carmen Papalia at CUE Art Foundation, NYC, 2013
Carmen Papalia is interested in new orientations or encounters towards objects and space through the obstruction of vision. By creating enforced situations where his participants are blinded as they engage with objects and spaces, they will acquire new or alternative perceptions within this unfamiliar orientation towards the world. In his attempt to provide new directions towards objects and spaces, the artist is showing the participants—and us, as observers—what new possibilities may exist within new orientations towards matter. More specifically, what are the implications for the body’s new perceptive relationship with matter when they are blinded, and how and what knowledge is acquired by what we cannot see? Merleau-Ponty suggests that the body is “no longer merely an object in the world,” rather “it is our point of view in the world.”3 I aim to think about how these ‘points of view’ or new orientations can provide political objecthood towards and for the figure of the blind subject. Can the blind subject acquire agency within a phenomenological reading of Papalia’s practice? If walking, stumbling and turning and consequently encountering objects and spaces are based on blind orientation, is there empowerment to be had by such movement to the new points of view?