'Après le bain' the full version, by and with Mariana Tengner Barros

Premiere 16th February at Fresh Festival, Buda Kunstencentrum, Kortrijk Belgium

link to details and venue:



Photo by Christoph Mueller

Après Le Bain

There is something about our limited time here, that makes us want to pause it. Signs of ageing are regarded as flaws, plastic surgery becomes a must so one can adapt well to the most recent codes of representation of our bodies. In the quest for some kind of perfection, we go on morphing slightly, daily, comparing ourselves with the images we see all around, old and new. By attempting to construct the ideal image of a body we tend to get further and further away from the reality of that body, that is its details, its peculiarities, what makes it unique and complex. A will for immortality, for a ‘great shape’, forever, takes over fully ‘living’ each moment. ‘Looking like’ and ‘looking at’ become more important than ‘seeing’ and ‘being’. As long as the ‘image’ is what we want it to be, ‘forever’ becomes the object where that image gets ‘frozen’, the moment registered (a picture, a sculpture, a photo, a film).

I am recurrently interested in the representation of the body in art, the body in the media, in publicity, its relevance in the cult of ‘fame’ and in the phenomena of the ‘icon’. The way the body is presented, how it is destroyed, the degrees of intimacy and exposure and the mechanisms related with how we ‘cover’ our bodies, how we define them.

For this solo I wanted to work with a material that was unstable, which form had a short duration. In life nothing stays the same, everything reaches a point where it either ends or it becomes something else. ‘After the bath’, after getting ‘clean’, scrubbed, desinfected, we add other layers, in a narcissistic-like ritual, working against time.

I began working from the idea of getting old in a fast-forward mode. Skin getting wobbly and loose, creams trying to hold it together, even reverting the process. The body undergoes constant and continuous changes, it is an infinite process of reconfigurations and adaptations. Nevertheless, we have that huge tendency to want to freeze them, in an anxious attempt to delay an end and keep a certain appeareance that suits a pre-determined model of beauty.


The body of an image, or the image of a body? I try to enter in a place where these converge, where I manipulate my own image, articulating my state between the ‘created’ and the ‘creator’ (ie: the sculpture and the sculptor), wanting to transcend my countours, my identity, my gender and all the other cultural and social ‘tags’ that are imposed.


I work with 4 elements: my body, plastic sheets, light and cans of men’s shaving foam.


Remixing body, body of old, body of now, my body now, forms in my body, ends of my body, body of other, an attempt of body, an empty body, a body cover, ghost body, the body decaying, the body still. Body, still.


Mariana Tengner Barros

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