Body Luggage

Migration of Gestures

24.09.-01.12.2016 10:00-17:00

Opening: 24th of September 2016, 10 am

Commissioned work by the festival steirischer herbst. In cooperation with Kunsthaus Graz.

Curated by: Zasha Colah

Venue: Space02

This year's steirischer herbst exhibition imagines the migration of cultural signs across borders, of body language as the signs we carry on our backs, even if it is the only luggage we are able to carry.


When everything can be confiscated from those in flight the body is turned into an archive, where experience and memory are inscribed. Everything a person has experienced, all that he or she is or has been, is inscribed on their body, a body that cannot simply be taken off. How are artistic vocabularies relayed across geographical and temporal boundaries? And what specific artistic objects result from this multiple migration?


From the particularities of historical continuities the exhibition questions art historical methods, engaging with various attempts to contain world art history. Enlightenment attempts to find geographical continuity have been critically dismantled, just as ethnography and the discipline of anthropology were so much born from the colonial enlightenment encounter. Yet, as a form of thinking – with unique textual-visual methods – several works in the exhibition seek how art historical methods may be put to wider avant-garde political potential.


By placing history alongside artistic mutations the exhibition asks how avant-garde forms are transmitted or provoked. Why does an Austrian choreographer in the 30s, forced to flee from the Nazi regime to Bombay, exchange the word “dance” for “body movement”? What induces an artist, after six years in prison, to engage in ancient forms of dance as a basis for pioneering performance art in Myanmar under the dictatorship of the 90s? Why does an artist consider the body parts of mass graves in Bosnia able to seek for a non-identitarian politics of memory?


The audio guide to the exhibition: Body Luggage. Migration of Gestures


Indian-born curator, art historian and co-founder of Clark House Initiative, Zasha Colah’s work frequently focuses on questions of cultural legacy in precarious circumstances. Before co-curating the Pune Biennale 2017 she has invited a number of artists to join her in Graz and probe the field of tension between art and the often extreme social conditions by which it is determined.


Participating artists: Kemi Bassene (FR/SN), Padmini Chettur (IN), Jimmy Chishi (IN), Chaw Ei Thein (USA/MM), Caecilia Tripp (FR/DE), Milica Tomić, Simon Wachsmuth (DE/AT), Gernot Wieland (DE/AT), Sawangwongse Yawnghwe (CA/NL/MM), Portia Zvavahera (ZW).


With works from the archives of Hilde Holger (GB/IN/AT), Chandralekha (IN), Shiavax Chavda (IN), Htein Lin (MM), et al.




> More about steirischer herbst: Co-operation with Kunsthaus Graz and Neue Galerie Graz

Kunsthaus Graz

Lendkai 1
8020 Graz, Österreich
T +43-316/8017-9200


Opening Hours

Tue-Sun, public holidays 10am - 6pm

Guided Tours
Please visit our calendar.
Guided tours on advance notice

Mon-Thurs 9am-12pm
Fri, Sat 9am-2am
Sun 9am - 8pm
T: +43-316/714 957


24th/25th December 2023

steirischer herbst

Leitmotif 2016: We can do this. On the Shifting of Cultural Cartographies