Through the in-depth analysis of virus warfare and the rising number of actions against queer bodies around the globe, the exhibition ‘It Bites Back’ draws on distinguishing power agents, such as hormones and fluids, as symbols for forces that reign in our everyday lives and which define the 21st century’s approach to biopolitics. Through the exhibition, Pedro Neves Marques highlights the double meaning on the viral spread of the Zika virus (mainly in 2015-16). Here, the mosquito is used as the vector for exploring the significance of biotechnology and as the number one national enemy, destructing the nation’s immune system. As a parallel, the artist aims to enlighten the audience on notions of gender orientated violence and the injustice created by the rise of belligerent actions towards queer individuals.
Hosting the exhibition, Gasworks allows movement between the gallery spaces through a choreographed presentation of Marques‘ work. The first encounter with the exhibition is a render showing Aedes Aegypti, the mosquito responsible for the spread of the Zika virus. The male specimen is shown mating with a female which then proceeds to feed on humans. Entering further, the gallery’s interior is painted in a delicate beige/pink, reflecting a biological neutral tone of a body and human flesh. Interweaving contexts between the blood-lusting female mosquito and gender queries, two screens feature a synchronised projection, which as a collective is referred to as ‘A Mordida’ (The Bite). Further, a sound installation introduced to the background, as a parallel soundscape created by the London musician HAUT, creates an eerie setting that throws the audience into an uneasy state of mind. Varying between different tone, heights and lightning, the feeling of anxiety is forcefully placed on the viewer’s mind, ensuing from the proximity, extent and imminence of the ‘bite’.
‘A Mordida’ is divided into two parallel screenings, ‘The Gender of the Lab’, a documentary presented onto one of the walls, and ‘Sex as Care’, fictional ‘footage’. The first shows a laboratory in São Paulo that controls the breading of transgenic - genetically modified - male mosquitos. A terminal gene - the killing gene, is introduced into the DNA of the insects, which are then being released into the wild to mate with females and pass this gene onto the offspring - a ‘living insecticide’, as it is referred to by Gasworks. Parallel to this film, ‘Sex as Care’ is projected onto another screen. Secluded in a forest, the projection shows a series of scenes of intimate encounters between queer lives, happening parallel to the gender DNA modification of species in labs and their intermating encounter in the wild. Both films explore notions of embodiment and a critical analysis of how embodiment is exploited. Intersected by a selection of Marques‘ poems on gender significance, vulnerability of the individual and the possible control over one’s intimate life is questioned. ‘Sex as Care’ ends with a blood-thirsty bite by a mosquito.
As a collective piece, the screenings raise questions on methodologies that introduce apparatus into the individual’s autonomy in order to govern the body and to use it for a certain purpose. Inspiration is potentially drawn from science fiction, the body horror image and the idea of technology mutating with flesh. The moral challenge, though, is found in distinguishing the approaches towards alternative forms of life in a time where military and fascist powers are rising. The introduction of lab-produced and modified insects into nature highlights the potential terror threat against queer bodies. The exhibition explores how bodies can be used as reigning agents with power over the way we interact in our daily life. Further, the work invites awareness on how the future might hold ‘love, care, and intimacy’ within totalitarianian governments.