Oil on canvas, variable sizes.

The impressed touch 

I am having trouble naming my body. If I, for example, name it with the words “my body”, then I am at the same time distinguishing it from myself as if it was some kind of a “thing” that belonged to “me”. Who is this “me” that owns my body? Is he somewhere outside the body, or does he have an independent ethereal existence somewhere under my skin as a noncorporeal being or idea? Or is this “me” the body itself of flesh and blood, and “my body” only an idea without any material existence? The truth is that “my body” is at the same time two things; a material thing, and as such a part of the material world as a whole, and a living and sensing being which perceives the world but senses itself at the same time in a different way from all other bodies of the world. My body and my selfconscious being can not be separated without losing their ground. As soon as I name “my body” it has become something different from what it was, and its image which is implicit in the word  belongs to time past as a dead object, a corpse that doesn’t exist anymore except as an idea or image. As soon as I distinguish my thought and my selfconsciousness from my body it becomes an abstract idea which now starts thinking itself thinking. 

Ólafur Gíslason, The Impressed touch, from the book: Touching, Reykjavík 2004 


  • Kopavogur Art Museum
  • Hangar-7, Salzburg, Austria