Artor Jesus Inkerö’s large scale photographs, videos, and performances, are part of a “holistic bodily project:” a series of rigorous, evolving, self-transformations that transgress boundaries between Inkerö’s art and life. Through bodybuilding, dieting, supplements, dress, and digital post-production, Inkerö, whose preferred pronoun is they, establishes an intimate relationship to the material external qualities of the self and how it is projected into the world. Online and at the gym, they are immersed in bodybuilding subcultures and their attendant languages, behaviors, and perceptions. Famous figures from popular culture serve as ideals and models through which to imagine possible new selves, cycling fluidly through a range of genders. Alternatively, in works such as BUBBLE(2017), the artist adopts movement and gestures within a constructed world to extrapolate the most generic median of contemporary masculinity.
In this exhibition, JUSTIN (2016), KIM (2017), and CAITLYN (2017) are each outcomes of Inkerö’s intense commitment to identify with the smooth surfaces in images of public figures by mimicking their routine and gestures. As in the original images, they stitch together multiple self-portraits to create a composite self in the image of another. Bodybuilding is a process in which muscles are treated separately and specific exercises target specific body parts. As with image editing software, it is a way to split up the self into pieces and stitch together all the perfected surfaces and angles into a whole. The resulting images, printed as public banners, use an advertising format suited for maximum public exposure and consumption, making Inkerö’s new constructed self subject to admiration and judgement. In advertising, identification with an ad’s subject is a tool to manipulate behavior. The work plays with this by considering to what extent do we see ourselves or our possible selves in these ubiquitous images of others?
Inkerö’s works examine the comfort we seek through identification with others and through the stability of generic forms and predictable behaviors; on that level, it is a deeply humanizing project. It is a means of joining the world of appearances and highlighting the conflation of self and other, omnipresent as a form of control in late capitalist society. In essence, these works are about what one may go through, under these conditions, in order to identify with or feel a connection to another person.