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The Airbag Generation
    A group exhibition curated by Lila Torquéo



Made possible by Flanders State of the Art

“I have a confession. During sex, I hate it when anyone touches my breasts.” Lolo Ferrari

“Oscar Wilde said: “Everything in the world is about sex, except sex. Sex is about power.” Hard Mag

In the music video of her debut single “Airbag Generation,” Lolo Ferrari (1963-2000) engages in an aggressive and horny choreography with another woman, climaxing in a car race. Her breasts serve as a shield to protect her from danger and knock out her opponent as in a game of lovemaking. With the questionable complicity of her husband, Ferrrari transformed herself into an entity both powerful and absurd, combining raw eroticism and a semblance of motherhood. But with her powerful hypertrophic breasts, she opened a door to all kinds of interpretations, from the most contemptuous to the most mythologizing.

“The Airbag Generation” is set on revealing and subversifying the traditional phallico-centric patriarchal order that strongly emanates from Ferrari’s work, which, sits between her personal production and her presence within the porn industry. With her pop songs and shows, she struggled to retain a voice and agency that were both finally snuffed out in the male-dominated porn industry that turned her into a powerless freak. In addition to trying to take ownership of her body by its self-designed cosmetic surgery she became a kind of cosmic entity, anesthetized while flirting with an idealized blackhole. Her desire for attention became an addiction, finding herself wrapped in a straitjacket of her own fame, her effort gave most to those who profited from her.

From this particular relationship of desire and pain, the exhibition reuses Ferrari’s utilization of the airbag to create an allegory that intertwines the paradoxical sensations of voluntary anesthesia, and sudden paralysis. The airbag contains this duality, between the security system against car accidents and the asphyxiation sought in BDSM practices. It may also be an allegory of a state of mind, blending abundance and atrophy, symptomatic of the 1990s. A decade that marked digital natives in their processes of (de)-identification, with the relationships of predation and domination that we face in the implosion of reality television and social media. Forging a libido attuned to connected solitude and distracted boredom.

“Stuck in the now”

Furthermore, Lolo Ferrari’s narrative weaves a tale of skin. In an interview she says that her breasts acted as guardrails to shield her from people and life. In his book “The Skin-Ego” (1987) Didier Anzieu offers reflections on the skin’s mechanisms of defense and healing which resonates closely with Ferrari’s sensations despite his rootedness in gender binaries. Through Anzieu’s prism, Ferrari may have internalized her mothers hands - the fundamental support - to feel empowered to combat gravity and ensure the integrity of her body and mind. This interface, which Lolo Ferrari hyper-stimulated, served as a bumper, much like the artists assembled who perceive skin as a structuring and fantasized envelope, a wall, a bark, and a coded language. Their works embody vital, morbid, and regressive impulses, puncturing the skin with tattoos, swathing it in bandages, and revealing it in digital realms. These skins swell and petrify, shaped by endured or inflicted shocks, physical or amorous, erecting themselves as sites of resistance. Eroticism and bimbofication deliberately serve as means of considering forms of rearmament to confront social trials and reclaim one's pain by imagining its sensual flip side, with a blend of humor and violence. When one resorts to self-mutilation to appease a malaise externalized in a hallucinatory double, the result is a poisoned garment that manages to transfigure and emancipate.

In response to the privilege of discriminatory beauty and sacred immortality, “The Airbag Generation” responds with excessive artifice made of precious trinkets. A celebration of extravagance and campy performances. With Kawaii cartoon characters, dandy mummies, anonymous kittenish figures, and softened armors, the artists mold their own pharaohs in skins of fiction. New cutaneous envelopes become their intimate journals, where desires imprisoned by flesh are recounted, sensations and sentiments sizzle on skin pores. The angst of fragmentation is countered.