Academic Session 18: Loughborough 2017

43rd Annual Conference & Art Book Fair
Loughborough University
6th to 8th April 2017

Bodies of Art: Transgressing Race, Gender and Sexuality


Zehra Jumabhoy, The Courtauld Institute of Art,
Elizabeth Robles, University of Bristol,

‘Writing about art, making art, is not the same as being the subject of art’.

In her short essay ‘Being the Subject of Art’ (1995), theorist and critic bell hooks examines the body as the ‘fundamental boundary of self’; its transgressions linked to desire and shame, sex and death. She narrates her longing to confront and move across these boundaries, to transgress. However, she finds, this commitment is challenged when she is invited to let her own body be the subject of art in collaborations with Su Lea Cheang (Those Fluttering Objects of Desire, 1992) and Lyle Ashton Harris (‘The Good Life’, Jack Tilton Gallery, 1994).

This session brings together papers that address the body as subject in works from a diverse range of creative practices. Papers in this session, which is convened alongside the Outsider Bodies session as part of a wider discussion around Art and the Body, will examine the manifold ‘boundaries’ that converge on the body and the possibilities and implications of their transgression. They will examine the interstices of present and absent bodies, the fluidity of dis-embodied spaces and the uses of performance and performative imagery to create an embodied experience. They will interrogate questions of materiality and its relationship to the virtual, ghostly, and digital. Papers in this session will probe what happens when hooks’ distinction – between writing, making and being – collapses. For example, when the artist’s own body becomes the subject. The latter is a strategy employed by artists since the early 20th century to transgress fixed notions of race, gender and sexuality. What does the 'transgression' of categories entail and imply?

Click here to download a .pdf of this session's paper abstracts

Anne Ring Peterson (University of Copenhagen) The Place of the Black Body in White History: Jeanette Ehler’s Decolonial Interrogation of ‘the Darker Side of Western Modernity’

Jessie Robertson (The Courtauld Institute of Art) Bodies of Multitude, Performing Protest/Protest as Performance in the 2011 Global Uprisings

Leila Riszko
(University of Glasgow) (Post)Human Viability: Analysing the performance practice of contemporary live artist, Boychild

Lauren Jimerson (Rutgers University) Painting Pleasure: Émilie Charmy’s Sexually Embodied Nudes

Leon Wainwright (The Open University) Body, Relationality and Reciprocity in the Art of Sonia Khurana

Zehra Jumabhoy (The Courtauld Institute of Art) Mother Dearest: The Body and the Nation