what is it to be embodied?

I make images which relate to the female body. I am interested in exploring how the body physically contains what is inside (emotions, experiences and memories) and how at times this can seem beyond the capacity of the body which can start to feel like it is melting, disappearing or even disintegrating. What has been so carefully held on the inside starts oozing, seeping and leaking out. I am interested in inside and outside, public and private and how memory is so integral to our sense of self. What is seen on the outside and how it relates or does not to what goes on on the inside – and the body as a vehicle for the self.

I am interested in how what happens on the inside (thinking, feeling) can manifest on the surfaces of the body. The physical body (and the skin) holds the memories of the events and people who have been part of our lives. I wonder about how the shadows of past events and relationships as well as those happening now are held and reflected in and on the surface of our bodies.

I want in the future to think more about how our culture alienates us from ourselves and from our bodies. We develop a relationship with and to ourselves that is mediated by capitalism which relies on our ‘need’ to consume and to be perpetually at odds with our selves and our bodies. I am curious about how capitalisms values are embodied and are both felt within and displayed upon the surface of our bodies.

We play many parts; female and male, a boy, a girl, a mother, daughter, a wife, a teacher, a student. Each of these roles brings an identity with it each of which is infused with power relationships. There is no neutrality. Our differences do not exist against a neutral backdrop and our ‘difference’ threatens.

We are flesh and blood – but we are what we feel and we are what we think, we are our reflections and our memories. There are layers of self, true and false selves, internal others and real and imagined figures from both our internal and external worlds. I am trying to bring together these ideas with the images that I make of the body and to think also about the health of my body (physical and mental) and consider it in relation to my developing therapeutic work. I am a being with a mind and a body (which I can sometimes forget) and I am working to integrate and connect with myself through my art making and to work out what it is to be embodied.

Other things to think about at some point:
Plato’s shadows on the wall
Locke’s personal identity and memory
Collective identity and invented tradition (Bataille, Hobsbawm)
Bakhtin, carnivalesque and inverting social norms
The social construction of the female body and sexuality


  1. http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2009/feb/01/bodies-review-susie-orbachOrbach she turns her attention to the controlling forces – \”the merchants of body hatred\”. Her point is that capitalism works much better if we hate our bodies. If we're anxious and needy, we are better consumers; if we're anxious and needy when it comes to something as fundamental as our bodies, we are putty in the hands of marketeers and diet-merchants. And if we ever start to get comfortable with what we've got, along comes another body – another piece of unattainable perfection – to keep us anxious.

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