Academic Session 19: Loughborough 2017

43rd Annual Conference and Art Book Fair
Loughborough University
6th – 8th April 2017

Outsider Bodies: Disrupting the canon of corporeal norms


Rachael Grew, Loughborough University,
Lucy Weir, University of Edinburgh,

It remains a problematic constant that the canon of art history excludes or marginalises many diverse groups, creating the established ‘inner circle’ and a side-lined group of outsiders: artists relegated because of their gender, sexuality, race, bodily ability, and social class. However, rather than broadly exploring traditionally disregarded artists or groups that challenge the status quo, here we wish to specifically focus upon the potentially disruptive nature of the ‘outsider’ body: bodies that disrupt norms through their physical nature; bodies that do not reflect the white, Western, heterosexual, patriarchal hegemony; transgressive bodies that defy easy categorisation.

How are these abject bodies, their corporeality and the physical spaces they occupy, used and depicted within visual culture? To what extent can they destabilise the insider/outsider dichotomy that persists in art history? In other words, we seek a way to turn the outside in – to investigate whether canonical values and their cultural foundations can be disrupted through the very materiality of the ‘outsider’, abject body. How do such bodies intersect with those found in the insider realm of canonical artists, movements, and centres? How and why do they unsettle cultural and social assumptions? What is the impact of ‘outsider’ corporeality on histories and philosophies of visual and material culture? Does art history provide a useful space to critique bodily norms, or does it merely create an ‘Other’ space for an ‘Other’ body, failing to blur boundaries in the ‘real’ world?

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

Fae Brauer (University of East London Centre for Cultural Studies Research; The University of New South Wales National Institute of Experimental Art) Contesting Corporeal Regeneracy: Picasso’s Syphilitic Bodies

Neil Macdonald (The University of Manchester) Wound Subjects: HIV positivity in Ron Athey’s performance

Rosa Nogués (Chelsea College of Arts) Old Woman on the Prowl: Joan Semmel and the dangerous ageing body

Laini Burton (Griffith University) and Jana Melkumova-Reynolds (King's College London) Pro(ae)sthetics and Phantom Limbs in Contemporary Visual Culture: Strategies of mainstreaming and resistance

Clara Zarza (IE University Spain) The Material World of Outsider Bodies: Visibility and self-representation through possessions in installation art