How The Body Assumed Resonance for Postmodern Art Practice in the 1980s and 1990s

HowThe Body Assumed Resonance for Postmodern Art Practice in the 1980sand 1990s

HowThe Body Assumed Resonance for Postmodern Art Practice in the 1980sand 1990s

Sincethe mid-20thcentury, ways in which the body is represented in art mirrorsshifting ideologies and changes of cultural values. As part ofpostmodernism, art has taken a diverse aesthetic form in the facet ofarchitecture, music practices, written literature, and performancearts and even in the use of electronic signage in popular culture(Berger, 2013). Postmodernists rival modernists context oforiginality in which it is perceived to be absent in most traditionsof art. The body is envisioned as a representation of many culturalad ideological prospects of society (Taylor and Winquist, 2002, p.).Every aspect of creations circumvent every construct of the body, beit in contemporary art, in the societal context, any work thatindividuals create is all referred to as bodies. Normally the body’sexistence is mainly appreciated through reference to events such asthe celebration of birth while its deconstruction is revealed at theend of life. Some of the world’s aggressions have particularlyaligned with the fulfilment of bodily needs of concerns on the rightsof the body. This includes fulfillment of bodily pleasures in balancewith the struggle for social class identity or conflicts on issuessuch as sexual orientation and gender ideologies (Berger, 2013). Thebody is envisioned as a major cause of revolt, in this case,considering forces of multitudes in riots or demonstration. Use ofthe body has also taken root in modern society complexities includingthe use of technology in place of human efforts or even in aggressiveacts such as terrorism and the use of the body in kidnappings,assassinations and even suicide bombings (Bronfen, 1998).

Theidentity that now is referred to as the body and the conditions thatit can be subjected to different in many ways. The body, therefore,exists within a system that in this case is the cultural sphere, andthe constitutes of the body are the identities such gender, race andmany more. The body represents a larger entity and within it,different combinations of various parts constitute the homogenouswhole. The body is built based on the context of society, and itsspecific model is filled with predetermined expectations that it isexpected to perform (Bronfen, 1998). The roles include racial roles,sexual roles, and even gender roles all of which are notscientifically modeled or set but are part of social, culturalfacets. Every aspect of the society including the religious platformstends to situate the body with what it can do or create perceptionsor ideologies of predetermined enclosures (Berger, 2013).

Inwarfare, the disappearance of the body is widely represented.Postmodernism in warfare through modern technology withrevolutionized military interventions, a new form of combat in washas now been created. Reduction of bodies directly involved in combatthrough the development of models now includes smaller units that aremore mobile and flexible capable of operating in isolation. The useof sophisticated technology in war such as missiles, cyber warfare,development of drones and robotics are examples of the new form ofways to reduce the direct involvement of bodies in combat war(Berger, 2013).

Inpostmodernism, the body has been engulfed in technology, ideologiesin the media domain. The body is endlessly striving to find an idealform. This means the forms are endless, in which the body in thepostmodernism world can transform into (Bronfen, 1998). The body cannow influence how machines are developed innovations are createdeven in pharmaceutical developments where ingenious ways are beingdiscovered on how the body can take various appearances (Berger,2013).

Inthe postmodern platform, the body has now intertwined intohyperactive networks turning into free form augmentation both withinthe societal spectacle of on its autonomy, a transformation that canbe phrased as a hybrid. The notion of hybridity is fabricated inmacro-political and micro-political aspects of the society inpostmodernism. Hybridism is more of a play of recognition that tendsto exceed the basic dialectical and binary conformities that are nowseen as modern sovereignty (Berger, 2013).

CindySherman as a contemporary photographer who managed to apply theeffects of the body in art during the 1980s proliferation of massmedia imagery. She happened to use photography in exploiting variousaspects of modern social life conformities to explore some femalepersonas. Sherman self-portraiture was filled with a context of thefashioning of self-identity working in the centre of extremeconsumerism and image proliferation. Sherman uses the camera andinstruments like makeup, high-end fashion designer wears, and stagescenery to recreate illusion snapshots that represent idealizedcelebrity or iconic lifestyles (Bronfen, 1998). These concepts alsodepicted a high fashion self-confidence and sexual adventure combinedwith entertainment and other social fabricated conditions in thesociety mind-set. As much as Sherman photographic portraitureconfirmed with modernity, the concepts were based on traditions ofart that pushed audiences to select stereotypes and specific culturalassumptions among other cultural facets such as politics, pulpfiction and even theatre art (Berger, 2013).

Someother modern artists including Gilbert and George made a significantcontribution to the development of the modernism art. They arerenowned for their success in the creation of muscular male body livesculptures that dominated in performing arts practices (Zeal, 2013).They introduced new concepts in performance arts where untrainedindividuals used their bodies as their medium in exhibiting as livingsculptures in the 1960s. Their concepts on recasting the male nude asa fragile and vulnerable figure rather than a potential figure forstrength their work was also confronted with issues of existence suchas sex, corruption, fear and even religion. They have used the bodyin their art, in this case, the status of male as a way to describethe inner vulnerability of stature of men. They always present as aduo and wear the same distinctive suits demonstrating that theirlives are inseparable from their art. “Their pop sensibilitysignature style in all their artwork has explored subjects such asrace, sexuality, and religion,” (Locks and Richardson, 2012,p.170).

Jakeand Dinos Chapman are also postmodernism artists that have managed touse the concept of body in their art to envision models and conceptsof the dark world. They have done arts on sculptures and visions ofhell and even created art for children. They have used body arts todepict suggestive messages in their artworks. The use of body partswith other material such as serrated blades stabbed through a littleboy’s face into another body. The duo has made remarkable arts inEngland using unique collections of artistic materials some areoriginally developed while others are a construct of other artistsworks in which they have revisited the concepts and made theirmessage come out in a unique manner (Jeffries, 2010).

Theuse of body has made a remarkable contribution as a centre of focusfor the artist seeking to exploit social idealism in art concepts.Being a highly diversified model of thought, the body in art is notpenetrating into the fabric of postmodernism society. Unlikemodernists who incline towards individual innovation andprotectionism of originality, postmodernism borrow from previousartworks and are mostly concern with mashing up old concepts with newcontexts to create new meaning. Postmodernism embraces the use ofbody and incorporating it into technology such as in the use ofmedia, imagery, techniques and inspirations in the art world. The useof the body in postmodernism has allowed identification ofdifferences and diversity in all aspects of social life as manyartists have successfully applied in their artwork. The contributionsthat have been made over the years by dedicated artists such as CindySherman, Jake and Dinos and Gilbert and Robert is a demonstration ofthe much-needed transformation to adopt an inclusive world of art.


Berger,E. (2013). Postmodern Passages: The Construction of the Body.[Online] Retrieved from:[Accessed: 30 November 2015]

Bronfen,E. (1998). The Knoted Subject. Hysteria and Its Discontents. NewJersey: Priiceton University Press

Jeffries,S. (2010). How the Chapman Brothers became the brothers grim [Online]Retrievedfrom:

Locks,A. &amp Richardson, N. (2012). Critical Reading in Bodybuilding.London: Routledge

Taylor,E.V. &amp Winquist, E.C. (2002). Post modernism Critical Concepts.New York: Routledge

Zeal.(2013) Gilbert &amp George. [Online] Retrieved from: [Accessed: 30 November2015]