Docile Bodies

15 Bermondsey Square, London

Picture of Docile Bodies

When:Event passed!
It was on
Thu 5th Jul 2018 to
Sun 30th Sep 2018

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Where:15 Bermondsey Square, London SE1 3UN
Map:Map & Nearby
Times:18.00 - 21.00

About the event

VITRINE is delighted to present ‘Docile Bodies’, a group exhibition featuring Benjamin Edwin Slinger, Georgia Lucas-Going, Hardeep Pandhal, Jesse Darling, Liv Preston and Sam Blackwood, exploring the theory of Panopticism in relation to VITRINEs unique exhibition conditions; the ability to be viewed 24/7.

Though English philosopher Jeremy Bentham first coined the term ‘Panopticism’ the theory was substantially developed by French philosopher Michel Foucault in his book, Discipline and Punish (1975). Foucault explored the history of criminology and penology and according to Foucault, the perfect situation for influencing behaviour is the creation of docile bodies, ‘bodies that not only do what we want but do it precisely in the way we want.’ These ‘docile bodies’, Foucault says, are instilled using three techniques: ‘hierarchical observation’, ‘normalising judgement’ and ‘examination’. These enable us to control what people do just by watching them.

The underlying belief of Panopticism is that humans will behave well under constant surveillance. Foucault drew this theory by looking at Bentham’s ‘Panopticon’, a specific type of architecture that he found ideal for maximising control of the subjects with minimal authority members. The Panopticon is a circular building with well-lit segmented rooms on the outside and an observation tower within. The authority figure in the watchtower can look within each cell at any given time, 24/7. Panopticon principle was beneficial to a variety of institutions in which surveillance was important, including hospitals, schools, workhouses and prisons.

VITRINE’s unique architecture creates conditions for viewing the work 24/7, playing between the public and the private. This exhibition explores parallels between the space and the Panopticism theory. In dividing the space even further, creating segments and spatial partitioning, the space reflects the Panopticon. The artists will present works exhibited as five solo presentations existing aside each other. Offering the viewer an active role, ‘Docile Bodies’ explores VITRINE’s relationship with public space, and the gallery’s proximity to private space masquerading as public.

Panopticism’s core themes are ‘the systematic ordering and controlling of human populations through subtle and often unseen and/or unknown forces’. Today society continues to understand and manipulate the bases of enacted control through the fear of being observed. The Panopticism theory acts as a unifying device for this group exhibition as the works draw on themes of audience viewership and performativity. Each artist is approaching the subject individually, presenting works responding to this theme, the works are activated through the action of examination which in turn creates Docile Bodies.

Docile Bodies is curated by Helena Kate Whittingham (VITRINE Assistant Curator) and is her first London exhibition.

A series of ‘Docile Bodies’ performance works in the public square alongside screenings of works by Georgia Lucas Going and a film by Hardeep Pandhal and David Steans at Kino cinema will accompany the exhibition, presented on the occasion of the opening on 5 July. For more information on this event, please email


Jesse Darling (b.1984 Felixstowe) is an artist based in London and Berlin. Recent Solo shows Include; Support Level, Chapter Gallery, New York, US (2018) Armes Blanches, Galerie Sultana, Paris, FR (2017) ATROPHILIA (w Phoebe Collings James ), Company, New York, US (2016) and The Great Near, Arcadia_Missa, London, UK (2016).

Liv Preston (b.1993 Keighley West Yorkshire) is currently based in London studying at The Royal Academy. Recent Shows include; Honeymoon – Weston Studios, London (2018), Mantel – Copperfield Gallery, London (2018), It doesn’t take long to find new targets – isthisit? issue 03/Take Courage, Lon

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