I believe that it will be artists who will be on the leading edge on liberating you, your family, and friends from the categories that now constrain bodies.

What categories? Gender, size, sex, proportion, ‘wholeness’, ability…to name a few.

These often rigid categories give cause to a number of social ills–
Including but not limited to: transphobia, sexism, misogyny, heterosexism, anorexia, masculine stereotypes of being violent and emotionally aloof, homophobia, size discrimination…

The way we judge people by the shape of their skin is instable and
like other shaky but violently defended institutions, sex, gender and other body ‘norms’ will prove vulnerable to the artists of today and tomorrow.

The way we have ‘been doing gender’, thinking of abilities and ‘wholeness’ in America will be changing radically soon and it will be artists who open doors to new possibilities and a more just and safer culture.

I snapped the photo above while walking along Santa Barbara, California’s waterfront.
Its a great example of public art re-enforcing an idealized body. Like DiVinci’s Vitruvian Man, many murals, the art deco movement, oil painting traditions, and pop marketing, the picture above hands over an image of a heavily coded body–where proportion, gender, and ‘wholeness’ are unified in a standardization of ‘human body’.

But daily lived experiences for many reveal a world of more than standardized bodies. In fact, there is a consistent historical trend of folks pushing their bodies to be lived expressions of individuality–an art.

There are now artists who are pushing boundaries of how we think of bodies’ size, shape, ‘essence’, and gender. One of my favorites is Stelarc.

Stelarc states in an interview with Paolo Atzori and Kirk Woolford,
“Well of course one shouldn’t consider the body or the human species as possessing a kind of absolute nature…What it means to be human is being constantly redefined.”

Stelarc is perhaps most famous for hanging naked over cities by piercings in his back or the human ear he has grafted unto his arm, and has over decades declared the body a flexible platform for expression and redesigning.

As bio and nano technologies are improved more artists will be undertaking body art that will shatter conceptions of what human bodies are. Its exciting for me to see the work of the Church of Body Modification which couples spirituality and expressions of bodies’ liberation and the continued success of trans artists like Athens Boys Choir.

My favorite definition of art right now is ‘that which illuminates life’. What what is more in need of illuminating than the very bodies we live in and love with?

Stelarc. “Extended-Body: An Interview with Stelarc” Digital Delirium ed. Arthur and Marilouise Kroker
(New York: St. Martin’s Press. 1997)

Church of Body Modification
http://uscobm.com/

Advertisements