Bodies in Art & Design

On this final session of The Body in Society we discussed the views of the body as an absent/presence in Art&Design.  We began our lecture by questioning, what is reflexive embodiment?

Reflexive Embodiment In Contemporary Society, Nick Crossley, 2006:

We have previously touched upon some of the key aspects of this extract. The body is often objectified in representation. Artists might be the subject of the work, for example Tracy Emin. She is the subject of the work, but also she is somehow embodied in the work. Even Though she is not there in either of these pieces, we reaslise she is the subject and used as the object. We have a sense of her presence even though she is absent.

In Art&Design, it requires the application of the body and often people take for granted on how we use the body for an action, por example, we dont simply draw with a pencil, yes we draw with a pencil but we also draw with our hand which is often forgotten. Every act of production requires the application of the body, so in that sence design requires reflexive embodiment.

Leader (1990) argues the idea of absence presence in which that the body itself disappears into the ckground when we do things with our body for example walking and talking. The relationship between body and tools to produce an output is forgotten.

In which ways creativity responds to emotion? What about consciousness? Would that make a difference to things produced using two items? Manipulated materials in a certain way based on their composition.

Absent/Presence using beds:

Sarah Lucas

Sarah lucas bed
Au Naturel, 1994

Rachel Whiteread

Whiteread’s art operates on many levels: it captures and gives materiality to the sometimes unfamiliar spaces of familiar life (bath, sink, mattress or chair), transforming the domestic into the public; it fossilises everyday objects in the absence of human usage, and it allows those objects to stand anthropomorphically for human beings themselves.

Felix Gonzalez Torrez


The abject body has a strong feminist context, in that female bodily functions in, particular, are ‘abjected’ by a patriarchal social order. In the 1980s and 1990s many artists became aware of this theory and reflected it in their work.

Hannah Wilke

Starification Object Series, 1974

The Abject Bodies: Paul McCarthy


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BA (Hons) Final Year Ceramics student at Cardiff Metropolitan University. Love experimenting with material and techniques and work on a range of medium.

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