The 2023 summer issue of A Shade Colder, Flesh in Tension takes a closer look at fleshy matters. Our flesh and body shape our day-to-day existence as much as our intellect and emotions, it cannot be separated from how we perceive and are perceived in the world. It allows us to be human and, in fact, makes us human – a significant part of our particularities and specific experiences exist within our flesh. Our flesh and body often determine how we are perceived and perceive ourselves and does so before anything else. These perceptions are influenced by a variety of social, historical, economic and cultural forces, a network of systems chafing against human flesh – wearing, grinding, elevating, exciting, cultivating us into what we are constantly becoming, while we try to persist and sustain ourselves. To delve deeper into the tensions between these systems and the flesh, the issue features texts on work, gender, performance, stereotypes, architecture and disability.
Airi Triisberg writes about the importance of sustaining yourself materially in a precarious world, more precisely about wages for art work, accompanied by visuals by Zody Burke. In his interview with Heneliis Notton Samira Elagoz discusses performing gender and the gendered gaze in his newest film Seeking Bromance. Exploring the appeal of blonde hair both in Estonian art and among women, Marge Monko takes a closer look at the role of genetics, national imagery and pop culture.
Ingrid Ruudi writes about bodies existing within regimes that gladly render them invisible, disregard their needs and particularities, uncovering the spatial politics of disability in late Soviet Estonia. Looking further into the relationship between architecture and bodies, Kaarin Kivirähk interviews Aet Ader, Arvi Anderson and Mari Möldre about their project Home Stage, presented at this year’s Architecture Biennale in Venice, focusing on the contradiction of homes as a place to create a life in and a piece of real estate with exchange value. And in their poem nick von kleist invites the reader to spiral between nature and screens, as much as bodied or disembodied tensions in the reader allow.
Of course, tension can produce alertness, anxiety or make a person freeze in their flow to examine the systems that rub away at their fleshy bits. But there also can be pleasure and playfulness in tension – so perhaps it is better to really gaze deeply into this tension from time to time rather than let it slowly eat away at our tender flesh.