the body as site

link to presentation:


slide 1: there are lots of ways to think about site but i wanted this research to link directly with my work. the obvious way to approach ‘site’ would have been to look at site as landscape – a physical place but because i also work with and from the body i decided to look at the body as site.

slide 2: thinking about the body as a site in art invariably takes a phenomenological approach. there are lots of definitions for phenomenology but it can be understood as an approach that argues that we understand the world through direct experience, through the sense and the body and from a subjective point of view. supporters of phenomonology include Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, Jacque Derrida, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Jean-Paul Sartre.

slide 3: in terms of art, the body can be understood as a site of production. this may be implicit or accentuated as in the work of Jackson Pollock who emphasised the body as a site of production through his bodily gestures. it also tied into my own work last year in terms of the body grappling with its messy imperfections as i attempt the perfect print in ‘i lie and i leak’

slide 4:  the body can also be the site of engagement in art and indeed be necessary to the work. in the ‘happenings’ of Allan Kaprow, the bodily presence of the audience is necessary for the work and like all ephemeral work – the work does not exist without the audience being physically present in that moment in time.

slide 5: the presence of the artist’s body can also be essential to the work in performance pieces. Marina Abramovich uses her own body to explore self control, endurance and risk. the artist is present – the artist’s body is present and is the work.

slide 6: this can extend to durational or endurance pieces where the body is used to explore the limits of what it means to be human – physically, psychologically, socially etc. Artist Tehching Hseih’s One Year Performances look at how much the human body can withstand as my own work ‘island bound’ also took on those challenges, looking at physical limits of my body against the limits of my physical terrain.

slide 7: the body has been subject for art making thosand of years – and the female body seen as an object to be looked upon. Laura Mulvey argues that the way females have been represented in film has been predominanly from a male perspective or male gaze which reinforces woman as object and male values towards the female body. second wave feminist took the body as a way to challenge and rethink these values and attitudes. as Barbara Kruger’s piece says – your body is a battleground.

slide 8: the artist Carolee Schneemann also confronts these depictions of the female as suppine and passive in her piece Interior Scroll where she engages in a performance that shows her female body as active and strong. contained within her vagina she extracts a  scroll and reads its imaginary dialogue she has with a male art critic who refused to view her work. making reference to Linda Nochlins essay – why have there been no female artists – because there have been no opportunities for them not because they have not been as good.

slide 9: the body as site of resistance also extends to issues of identity in terms of race as seen in the work of Lorna Simpson who juxtaposes the black female body with language around racism and violence.

slide 10: the body as site can also be present by its absence (of form) as seen in the dematerialised work of Teresa Margolles. in Vapourisation – Margolles uses the water that cleaned dead bodies to create a steam room wich the audience breath and feel on their skin.

slide 11:  where is the place of the body as a site in the digital age of today? in the work of Elain Hoey, virtual reality is created to experience the world of others.

slide 12: and to finish with the words of 2 well known phenomenologists

The body is our general medium for having a world (Maurice Merleau-Ponty)

Everyone is the other and no one is himself (Martin Heidegger)









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