Representation of the body – Dr Adrienne Evens.

  • The 180 Second Project
  • Representing our bodies
  • Can we control how our bodies are represented by the media?
  • Race
  • Gender
  • What is the body? Is it just a bag of bones?
  • Bodies are constructed,  we choose to highlight certain aspects of our personality, but the body is restricted by historical and social norms eg. nudity.
  • Restricted by social position.
  • Defines what can be said, what we can do, how we move around.
  • Have to learn and understand what the body means.
  • The media shapes how we understand our bodies and ourselves.
  • Visual culture is full of bodies that are all quite similar.
  • Men show signs of physical strength and represent Latin male body, sexual power.
  • How do we represent ourselves?
  • We can represent ourselves through technology eg. Facebook, camera phones, photoshop.
  • Participatory culture. We can be who we want to be, more authentic.
  • Promise of authenticity rather than genuine authenticity.
  • What kinds of bodies are being represented? Slim, skinny, white, athletic, fit, and young.
  • What’s the ideal body? Slim, skinny, white, athletic, fit.
  • Who is excluded from the ideal? Racial divide.
  • What is the contradiction? The product will make us look unique but they are all being made to look the same.
  • Explore the interaction between the social world and self-representation.
  • Always try to fit the normality.
  • The Gaze – what does it feel like to be looked at? Makes you feel like a person, like somebody, reminds us we have a body and we are a self.
  • What would it feel like to never have anybody look at you?
  • The gaze also makes us feel uncomfortable, as we can’t get inside somebody else’s head. Do they see another subject/person or an object? Makes us very self-aware.
  • Objectification is process of turning people into object for our own gain
  • For women, typically understood as something sexual. No sense of the woman’s identity behind the object.
  • Abject and disgust
  • We seek disgusting things to make us self-aware.
  • Kristeva (1982) defines abject as things that pass in and out of the body.
  • We make a range of bodies disgusting.
  • Kristeva says the dead body is the most disgusting. Remind us one day we will be dead ourselves.
  • Extremes of bodies both fat and skinny make us feel in our own skin, our own bones and flesh.
  • Sarah Baartman, born into slavery. Sent to England for a freak show act and experimented on in France, fascination with her body. Died in 1815, but parts of her body were put on exhibition. Requested for her remains to be sent back but this didn’t happen until 2002.


  • Only recently have women been seen as ‘human’.
  • Thought of as not logical, thinking irrationally, if they think too  much the blood was flowing round the head rather than the womb.
  • Use the word girl to refer to a fully-grown woman.
  • More than just gender.
  • Bodies are defined by a range of binary differences.
  • We only have the concept of intelligence because of the concept of stupidity.
  • White straight male is the easiest difficulty setting.
  • Alternative bodies, alternative representation
  • Body is malleable – can be changed in shape, appearance, physicality.
  • Modern primitives – urban subcultures tat form tribal affiliations.
  • Socially sanctioned self-mutilation? Middle-class entertainment?
  • Orlan – Body Beautiful? Performance artist who had cosmetic surgery in order to shape her body and reconstruct her look so she could look like  a number beautiful woman through history. Aim to show how beauty is constructed through time, on the body.
  • Ways of using abject/disgust to challenge taken for granted assumptions about the body.

~ by victoriasimkissphotography on January 9, 2014.

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