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Homo Sacer e La Nuda Vita 


07.05 - 07.06.2024



The Sacred Human and Naked Life

At the heart of Giorgio Agamben's political philosophy lies the figure of homo sacer, referred to as the "sacred human," found in ancient Roman law. The "sacred human" is stripped of citizenship; they are "expendable but killable." Their life symbolizes the suspension of both religion, law, and morality. They are not recognized within religious rituals, and their killing does not constitute a crime. The existence of such a category leads Agamben to contemplate the operation of a form of violence he terms sovereignty. According to him, sovereignty establishes itself by producing naked lives. Sovereignty potentially has the power to turn everyone into homo sacer. Thus, politics is established as a "bio-politics," focusing on life itself. Agamben goes further and discovers that in ancient Greece, the word for life has two meanings: Zoe and Bios. Zoe refers to bare life, a biological existence, a form of existence, while bios defines a life with political and cultural value, firmly entrenched in societal life.

Metin Ünsal's artistic practice centers around naked life as the arena where bio-politics unfolds. In the artist's work, naked lives emerge with all their tangible entities and vulnerabilities, revealing the nature of sovereignty. Sovereignty is not limited by law but by unrestrained violence. Violence, with its fluid, shapeless, layered, intense, and pervasive nature, leaves life breathless. Violence is not an exceptional condition; instead, within the system we inhabit, it forms a topography where the state of emergency becomes the rule. The artist witnesses sovereignty turning the "bios" into naked life, "zoe." Art explores ways to defend life against the hegemony that shapes bodies with violence.

Metin Ünsal produces works questioning the value of certain lives through painting, sculpture, 3D animation, and various techniques in installations. With a non-anthropocentric approach, it embraces "aliveness" from a standpoint encompassing all species. Looking beyond the divide of nature and culture, it asks: Which lives are deemed acceptable and sacred? Whose deaths are mourned? Whose right to life and dignity is defended? Now, all these questions ferment in the memory of Mesopotamia in Mardin. Metin Ünsal's exhibition titled "The Sacred Human and Naked Life," specially designed for the space, interprets the city's body as a site of violence and resistance.

Artistic practice takes a stand against the sovereignty established by exerting control over life itself. Because art opens a space for the body to experience freedom with all its sensory richness. Art remembers and mourns. The artist persistently asks: If the body is a geography, is it inevitable for violence to be its fate in this geography?


Ezgi Bakçay


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