Blazoned and Over-Exposed: Post-Modern Bodies in Public Spaces


Session Title:

  • Long Papers Presentations

Presentation Title:

  • Blazoned and Over-Exposed: Post-Modern Bodies in Public Spaces



  • Blazoning is the act of exposing the body either visually or through words. In Renaissance to Tudor times the blazon was a varied expression of power. For the anatomist dissecting human corpses in search of an understanding of the human anatomy (particularly female anatomy) it offered the answers. For male courtiers blazoning was the bandying of bawdy verse at their rival blazoneur. The blazoneur would use imagery drawn from his lover’s body as a weapon of duelling with his opponent. Queen Elizabeth I ruled her court with power fuelled by sexuality. She had the knack of flashing her belly at her courtiers at parties with a simple, deft movement of dress to tease the men at court. The paper will look into the relevance and power issues for artists using their own bodies as tools for their art. How do we mediate the postmodern body? Is the site of flesh becoming more or less obscene, what is its power and how do the new mediums affect the impact of the body on our consciousness? As society becomes more and more alienated from the physical how do we approach and communicate our visceral life experience. Like pubescent children we are eternally fascinated by our bodies and yet are in the main ignorant of their physiology and anatomy. We consume narratives about the body on a daily basis searching conflicting narratives for the answers we seek. What are the future strategies for artists to pursue in exploring and trying to resolve the west’s difficult relationship with the body? Is there a hope of reconciliation with our bodies? With bodies being redefined with new technology, where is true cyborg art when the real cyborgs are amputees and the disabled and not Stelarc? Why are most body artists thin? Is scientific research the saviour or another devil with further questions? All these questions will be questioned and perhaps even answered.