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Cover thumbnail for Let Yourself Continue: The Body Let Yourself Continue: The Body

The human body has been considered an ideal form, perhaps the ideal form, in Western art since ancient times—a symbol of perfection, or at least, of perfectibility—though rarely is it so depicted today. (The possibility of perfection is now the purview of clothing designers, cosmetics companies, and the "contouring and enhancement" sector of the surgical profession.) What you'll find more often is the body considered as a space — a slate, not always but occasionally a blank one — for self-reflection, self-expression, self-destruction, and self-creation. Ultimately a body is only what it is (it's various systems and processes are touched upon here and there) but its image is limitless in appearance and meaning, the former more or less dictated by the artist, the latter open to interpretation.

In every human case, irrespective of gender, our bodies are where our selves meet the world. Yet from the time learned language intervenes, our perspectives on the body, in general and individually, are forged not by the elements — the earth, water, fire and air at our nerve endings — but what society sets within us like invasive seeds: what is healthy and what is not; what is normal and what is not; what is moral and what is not. This has an inevitable impact on how we see and respond to the world, and how the world sees and responds to, and impacts upon, each one of us.

In the pioneering book, "Our Bodies, Ourselves" (1973), the authors likened this received information to rote memorization — largely prescribed by men — as opposed to the “relevant learning” that disclosed the enormous discrepencies between what they had been taught and what they experienced: “ between fragmented pieces of a puzzle and the integrated picture, between abstractions and real knowledge.”

After nearly fifty years since the book appeared and amidst the socio-political struggles of this very moment, we are still debating almost every aspect of the physical, emotional, ethical, legal, moral agency and advocacy of our bodies. The work doesn’t end, but the determination of the authors of "Our Bodies, Ourselves" is particularly relevant to the present moment, and to the works by the artists in this exhibition. “It has given us a sense of a larger life space to work in, an invigorating and challenging sense of time and room to discover the energies and talents that are in us, to do the work we want to do.”

In assembling the works for this exhibition during this time of great uncertainty, it was startling how many featured imagery of the body in suspension, or contortion, or transformation. Flights of imagination become journeys of self-discovery, in regions of adventure or sanctuary, where change can feel like punishment inflicted from outside forces. It can also provide the opportunity to flex, strengthen, and exert both the body and the mind.
Showing 1 to 12 of 49 Records


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Atonement (portfolio of nine)

Anna Gaskell
Chine collé, intaglio
21st Century American

RC

Beverly Semmes
Velvet
American

Self-Eater

Dana Schutz
Chine Collé, woodcut, four wood blocks on Yatsuo, Smoerset Book, Arches Cover mounted on Rives BFK
21st Century United States Print

Cotton

Kara Elizabeth Walker (aka Kara Walker)
Steven B. Campbell printer
Etching, aquatint, Chine collé
20th Century United States Print

Li'l Patch of Woods

Kara Elizabeth Walker (aka Kara Walker)
Steven B. Campbell printer
Aquatint, etching, Chine collé
20th Century United States Print

Sueño

Kiki Smith
John Lund printer
Hitoshi Kido printer
Etching
20th Century American|German Print

Banshee Pearls

Kiki Smith
Aluminun leaf additions, lithograph on paper
20th Century American|German

Deer Boy

Michael (poet) McClure
Liu Hung
Acrylic ink, inkjet print
Chinese

Split Personality III/Disappearing Act, Time Thief in La La Land

Marcia Kure
Tempera, watercolor, pencil
21st Century Nigerian Drawing

Showing 1 to 12 of 49 Records


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