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CONTEMPORARY POST POSTMODERN ISM : TRANSFIGURING THE IMPERFECT HUMAN BODY BY CLAIRE JONES A Thesis Submitted to the Division of Humanities New College of Florida In partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Bachelor of Arts Under the sponsorship of Dr. Cris Hassold Sarasota, Florida May, 2012
ii Dedication Rochelle Dietz; and my stepfather, Dennis Dietz, who shares my immense love of margaritas and hot sauce. I would also like to thank the New College faculty member s who helped me in this process: Cris Hassold, Malena Carrasco, Kim Anderson and, of course, Jan Wheeler And, finally, I would like to thank my roommates, friends, and family for always being there to support me in my endeavors.
iii Table of Contents De T .iii List o f Figures iv v i Chapter One 14 Challenging Traditional Idealization s 15 Abject Bodies : T he Grotesque, Internal, and Ex creted.. 19 Chapter Two : Change in Outward F orm or A ppearance 27 Artistic Self Including the Public Chapter Three: T ransform ation. .4 0 41 Popular Dance and Music .. 46 .. 53 Figures 59 Works Cited
iv List of Figures Figure 1. Melanie Manchot, The Flowerbed (Liminal Portraits) .............59 Figure 2. Melanie Manchot, With Mountains (Liminal Portraits) 1999. .................59 Figure 3. Rineke Dijkstra Tecla, Amsterdam 1994 Figure 4. Ibid. Hel. Poland, August 12, 1998 Figure 5. Mark Wallinger, Ecce Homo 1999 Figure 6. Anthony Gormley, One and Other Figure 7. Anthony Gormley, One and Other 200 Figure 8. Mat Fraser, Thalidomide!! A Musical Figure 9. P oster for Phantom of the Opera Figure 10. Annie Sprinkle, The Sprinkle Salon 1992. Figure 11. Kiki Smith, Pee Body 1992 Figure 12. Stuart Brisley, The Collection of Ordure 2002 ....................66 Figure 13. Marc Quinn, A Genomic Portrait: Sir John Sulston 2001. ........................67 Figure 14. Marc Quinn, Self 19 91 Figure 15. Marc Quinn, Catherine Long 2000 2000 Figure 16. VALIE EXPORT, Tapp und Tastkino 1968 Figure 17. Coco Fusco and Guillermo Gomez Pea, Two Undiscovered Amerindians Visit Madrid Figure 18. Guillermo Gomez Pea, Mexterminator 1997 Figure 19. Veronika Bromov, Zemzoo 1999 Figure 20. Ibid. (detail) Figure 21. Ibid. (detail) Figure 22. Regina Jos Galindo, Who Can Erase The Traces? 2003. Figure 23. Lygia Clark, Dialogue series, 1960s/70s Figure 24. I bid. Structuring of the Self 1976 Figure 25. Olafur Eliasson, The Weather Project 2003 Figure 26. Ibid. (detail)
v Figure 27. Jeppe Hein, Moving Bench 2000. M ulti media installation Google images Figure 28. Graciela Carnevale, Project for Experimental Art Series 1968 77 Figure 29. Jacob Dahlgren, 2005. Figure 30. Adrian Piper, Funk Lessons 1983
vi CONTEMPORARY POST POSTMODERN ISM : TRANSFIGURING THE IMPERFECT HUMAN BODY Claire Jones New College of Florida, 2012 ABSTRACT I argue that contemporary artists and their audiences focus on the unidealized, human body to move beyond the conceptual seriousness and vigorous deconstructing of the postmodern period into a constructivist cultural phenomenon identified as post postmodernism. I have classified the featured artists as transfiguration arti sts: those who change the Western cano n so as to glorify or exalt marginalized body types such as the aged, pregnant, adolescent, and abject; artists who personally change in outward ed i dentities; and artists who wish to transform global viewpoints by in corporating the audience and thereby encouraging constructivist These artists clearly follow the post postmodernist agenda to destabilize traditional social conventions that stem from the hierarchy of the Western canon. I frame this within the larger issue of globalization and the desire to accept all reality constructions and interpretations of reality as valid and truthful. Dr. Cris Hassold Art History
| 1 th the human form have overturned centuries of convention, radically repositioning the body of the subject, the artist and the viewer. The main thrust of this development has been from passivity to ac tive agency, so that the body is no longer a static, optical phenomenon, but the embodiment of dynamic human relations and even a medium of The Body in Contemporary Art 17)
| 2 Introduction In recent decades, c ontemporary culture as we know it has been experiencing a surprising and revolutionary turn to wards the real Contemporary artists and their audiences have been focusing on the unidealized human body to move beyond the conceptual seriousness and vigorous deconstructing of the postmodern period into a constructivist cultural phenomenon identified as post postmodernism. The introduction will begin by first, identifying the key terms to under standing this discussion (Postmodernism, Post post modernism, c onstructivism, and transfiguration) and then, tracing the development of post postmodernist ideals from the invention of photography to contemporary multipluralistic theories. Postmodernism, th e radical academic theories that were popular during the 1960s and 70s, subverted the traditions grounding the Western canon by destabilizing a phallocentric, Eurocentric, and logocentric hierarchy. While postmoderns excelled at anatomizing this hierarchy, post postmoderns have been left a constructivist task. Constructivism, a theory of knowledge generally attributed to Jean Piaget, is a worldview in which humans generate knowledge and meaning from the interaction between their new experiences of the exter nal world and their existing ideas. It is a
| 3 between pre existing knowledge and new informatio n gathered through interaction 1 Contemporaries wish to reframe existing interpretations of reality (based on the values promoted by the Western canon) by introducing the new experiences of closely interacting with hitherto margina lized identities. These new constructions of social knowledge consequently promote the creation of unprejudiced relationships worldwide by encouraging collaborative elaboration (the process of sharing individual perspectives ). 2 This emphasizes the need for collaboration among all individuals, which is a direct challenge to traditional hierarchical approaches. The human body perfectly encapsulates this constructivist thrust because it is a physical commonality that connects all h uman beings. As such, it functions as a tool contemporaries can use for global collaborative elaboration. The post postmodern agenda has been developing in phases, as is true of many significant cultural phenomena. I have identified the following artists as transfiguration artists in all senses of the word: to change so as to glorify or exalt; to change in outward form or appearance; and to transform I have therefore used each definition to frame the three chapters of this disc ussion. 1 Robert S. Siegler and Psychological Science Vol. 7, No. 4 (Jul., 1996) 212. 2 P. Van Meter and Journal of Experimental Education Vol. 69, No. 1 (2000).
| 4 Melanie Manchot, Ri neke Dijkstra, Mark Wallinger, Anthony Gormley, Mat Fraser, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Annie Sprinkle, Kiki Smith, Stuart Brisley, and Marc Quinn change so as to glorify or exalt. VALIE EXPORT, Coco Fusco, Guillermo Gomez Pe a, Veronika Bromova, and Regina Jos Galindo change in outward form or appearance. And, finally, Lygia Clark, Olafur Eliasson, Jeppe Hein, Graciela Carnevale, Carsten H ller, Jacob Dahlgren, Adrian Piper, and the Black Eyed Peas transform. These artists embody the evolution from a prioritizin g of truthful and objective representations of life to a subjectivity found to be inherent in the human condition, an evolution that has taken centuries. As all artists became more familiar with the subjective, they looked at themselves and their environme nt differently. In the first decades of the nineteenth century, photography changed the course of art by making it possible to record reality objectively and accurately. According to Richard Appignanesi, a noted art historian, some art historians ha ve argued, to an extent correctly, that the invention of photography ended the authority of painting to (photography) had replaced hand crafted originality (art). As a r esult, artists began to look at reality, and the way they represented it, in a totally different way. Paul Czanne, for instance, did not scrap the traditions of realism, but revised it to include uncertainty in our perception of things. He did this by fl attening the picture theories of variability and stability to an astounding logical conclusion by creating works
| 5 based on their own subjective experience of the world aroun d them. 3 Nascent examples of contemporary art can be detected during this period in works by such artists as Marcel Duchamp, whose ready mades spoofed the preciousness of the art object, and Giorgio De Chirico, whose late works laid waste to the idea of th e uniqueness of the artwork by cannibalizing his previous works. 4 Some art historians say that Cubism and the resulting art movements rescued art from obsolescence and reestablished its authority to represent reality in a way that photography could not. 5 Artists were now concerned with how they saw reality, which might not be how anyone else saw it. The artistic eye was now concerned with a subjective experience of reality. This emergence of subjectivity led directly to the development of the Modern age. Modernism is a broad term for an explosion of new styles and trends in the arts in the first half of the twentieth century. If the modern era had a central image, it was that of a non image a Void. According to James N. Powell, what fell apart in the mo dern era were the values of the Age of Reason. Among the fragmentation, modern artists began to look for some eternal value th at was beyond all the chaos. One main interest of this era er, aesthetics art 6 Modern art, in fact, was so avant 3 Richard Appaignanesi and Chris Garratt. Introducing Postmodernism: A Graphic Guide. (Toronto: Totem Books, 2007) 13 17. 4 Eleanor Heartney. Movements in Modern Art: Postmodernism. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001) 11. 5 Appaignanesi 18. 6 Jim Powell. Po stmodernism For Beginners. (Danbury, CT: For Beginners LLC, 2007) 13.
| 6 class, who could not understand it, and gave rise to a hierarchical priesthoo d of scholars and critics. 7 During the 1960s, however, a group of radical French and American theorists virtually rewrote academic theory. The sixties left a legacy of doubt about the public reality about all public realities. 8 Postmodern literary theor y, especially, had a huge and Jacques Derrida published his Of Grammatology Thes e revolutionary texts heralded a new relationship between the author and audience. In his theories, Barthes explicitly ion and biographical contexts no longer mattered. Derrida continues this subversion by destabilizing the dichotomous binaries upon which the entire canon relied including traditional binaries such as speech/writing, man/woman, white/black, and mind/body. He did this by placing emphasis on the sides of the binaries previously minimalized (e.g., writing, woman, black, body). Many in the academic community soon extended his theory to encourage the uncovering of and resulting focus on hitherto marginalized pe oples and identities. This led directly to the emergence of feminist, queer, and race theory, for instance. 7 Powell 8 18. 8 Walter Truett Anderson. to be: Theatrical Politics, Ready to Wear Religion, Global Myths, Primitive Chic, and Other Wonders of the Postmodern World. (HarperOne, 1992) 48.
| 7 Stanley Fish, who also wrote during this time, helped further this movement with given joint responsibility for the production of a meaning that was itself redefined as an 9 In his later theorizing he argued that whenever a work is read, it is read not by a solitary isolated person, but by an individual who is a member of a community engaged in ongoing projects of reality construction. 10 Consequently, the postmodern audience was now encouraged to use their subjective ex periences to participate in and contribute to the interpretation of literature. These theories were quickly disseminated into broader academic, and eventually cultural, contexts, leading to a wider postmodernist awareness of the work as text even if it w as a film or a painting or a fashion show. Theorists now encouraged the interpretation of any significant cultural product as continuous with literary analysis. This furthered the newly reimagined relationship between artist and audience. The melding of th therefore stimulated a mutually constructivist empathy and understanding. In essence, postmodernist art resisted the master narrativ e of M odernism and progress as well as t he autho rity of high art which M odernism itself took from the Western canon. This new art was often simply unconcerned by the relationship between encouraged as anti elitist, anti hiera rchical, and dissenting. Much postmodernist art 9 Anderson, 85 10 Anderson 85.
| 8 paid attention to previously marginalized forms of identity and behavior. Postmodernists therefore seemed to call for an irreducible pluralism and were perpetually suspicious of domination by others. In this, they turned even further against those Enlightenment ideals that underlie the legal structures of most Western democratic societies, and they aimed at widespread ideals of equality and justice. 11 According to Stanley Grenz, a leading religion scholar, t he differences between modern and postmodern theory is tellingly analogous to the differences between the original Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation Like M odernism in general, the original Star Trek television series mirrored many aspects of mode progression. The crew of the Enterprise included numerous nationalities working human, and we must overcome our differences and join forces in order to co mplete our mandate, the quest for certain, objective knowledge of the entire universe of which 12 However, the crew of the later Enterprise in Star Trek: The Next Generation, includes species from other parts of the un iverse becoming more diverse than the original This change represents the broader universality of postmodernity: humankind is no longer the only advanced intelligence, for evolution has been active throughout the cosmos. 13 has changed : humans cannot fulfill the mandate alone. The new crew of the Enterprise 11 Christopher Butler. Postmodernism: A Very Short Introduction. (New York: Oxf ord University Press, 2002) 60. 12 Stanley J. Grenz A Primer on Postmodernism. (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1996) 5. 13 Grenz 8.
| 9 mission is no long man one Enterprise lead its diversifi ed crew into a postmodern universe. In this new world, time is no longer simply linear, appearance is not necessarily r eality, and the rational is not always to be trusted. 14 Postmodernism brought about the collapse of the objectivist, logocentric worldview that dominated the modern era, the worldview that people have faith in the absolute and permanent rightness of cert ain beliefs and values. 15 Postmodernist relativism, ironic or not, may really not be much more than a disguised plea for a pluralist tolerance, suitable to the very kinds of personal, sexual, and ethnic positions which have be come the focus in the postmode rnist period. 16 Postmodernism is globalism; it is the half discovered shape of the one unity that transcends all our differences. 17 The world has become a global village in a variety of ways. Not only did P ostmodernism admit countless new peoples and identities into mainstream art and culture, but globalization and technological innovation has generated worldwide communication among these individuals (yet the effects of these changes have sown the seeds of P backgrounds are increasingly interacting. Fresh reflections on relationships have sired a 14 Grenz 9. 15 Anderson 268. 16 Butler 121. 17 Anderson 231.
| 10 worldview in which the global condition of societies is seen, not as determined by traditi onal economic or political frameworks, but as a state of culture. 18 Ev en the most ardent advocate of P ostmodernism has been forced to admit that the term has become discredited by its very popularity. As ex postmodernist Hal Foster lose. In a sense a worse thing happened: treated as fashion, P 19 The worldview emerging in its place is definitively constructivist in its propensity for collaborative elaboration. If we operate from this post postmodern viewpoi nt, we see all information and all stories as human creations that are as valid and truthful as our own personal constructions of reality. A close look expose a shift in w orldwide awareness enacted by postmodernism. 20 There is evidence eve rywhere : art today is full of celebrations of the body, nature, beauty, and the self It seems that the insertion of humanism, an interest in the welfare of all people, into art has further as well as a medium of formal and aesthetic i 21 In popular culture, too, the body has become more visible as a challenge to constricting traditional social codes, through the adoption of piercings, tattoos, and other modifications. 18 Butler 116. 19 Heartney 52. 20 Heartney, 77. 21 The Body in Contemporary Art. (New York: Thames & Hudson, Inc., 2009) 8.
| 11 in residence at the White chapel Art Gallery in London, the body has become recognized as the principal arena for the politics of identity, as well as a facilitator and marker of belonging. Terry Eagleton, a British literary theorist and critic, further claims that the issues of ma rgina lized identities introduced by P ostmodernism have directly challenged the values protecting the white Western discourse, and is currently en route 22 The boundary between the human body and the world is blurred and shifting, and often difficult to identify. It is not simply the physical barrier of the skin, since this re that exists beyond our basic corporeal 23 For the purposes of this discussion, a stance has been taken on the notion of dualism, or the mind/body split. In traditional dualism, the sel f is perceived as a synthesis of mind and body rather than one being a container for the other. The clean, rational, masculine sphere of the mind is contrasted to the visceral, intuitive, female characteristics of the body. In contemporary art practice, t he body is more likely to be considered the place where rat ionalism, psychological disarray natural functionality, and cultured desires converge. 24 It is possible, therefore, to view the body along cultural, social, emotional, and intellectual lines simu ltaneously. 22 Terry Eagleton. The Illusions of Postmodernism. (Malden, Mass: Blackwell Publishers LTD, 1997) 25. 23 24
| 12 This discussion examines contemporary artworks and projects that utilize the imperfect human body to challenge the canon and reform public constructions of reality. A primary objective of these transfiguration artists is to stimulate the creat ion of constructivist relationships with, between, and among the hitherto marginalized identities newly introduced to mainstream culture. To achieve the se post postmodernist goals it is first necessary to change the Western canon to glorify or exalt margi nalized identities. Second, transfiguration artists encourage an espousal of these marginalized identities by personally changing in outward form or appearance. Lastly, they desire to transform global viewpoints. The first chapter of this discussion examines transfiguration artists who glorify or exalt the imperfect human body. Artists like Melanie Manchot and Rineke Dijkstra consciously challenge the previous values dictating that only idealized bodies may be accepted into the can on because they are representative of a rational mind They do this by portraying aged, pregnant, and adolescent bodies in a favorable light. G lorification artists like Mark Wallinger and Anthony Gormley create works that literally elevate the imperfection s of the everyman This idea is taken even further by artists who focus on abject bodies such as Mat Fraser, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Annie Sprinkle, Kiki Smith, Stuart Brisley, and Marc Quinn. The second chapter examines an expansion of the post postmodernist agenda through artists who alter their own bodies by changing in outward form or appearance. VALIE EXPORT provides an excellent postmodern precursor, while post postmodern a rtists like Coco Fusco and Guillermo Gomez Pea continue these themes today by
| 13 per sonally embracing marginalized positions to create a linkage between themselves and those previously minimalized by the canon Veronika Bromov and Regina Jos Galindo further this idea by including gallery goers and the general public in their works. In t he third chapter, o ther transfiguration artists such as Lygia Clark, Olafur Eliasson, Jeppe Hein, Graciela Carnevale, Carsten Hller, and Jacob Dahlgren alter the bodies and environments of their audience to encourage more widespread kinship with Piper and the Black Eyed Peas through the media of dance and music to transform worldviews. The artists examined in this section, then, aim to create relationships between art collaborative elaboration and the resulting constructivist relationships. After all, we are material objects. What is special about the human body, then, is its capacity to transfo rm the material bodies around it by transforming itself. The evolution of art and cultural theory delivers us to the present era of the real body. We use this body to connect with the world and bring about effective, practical acceptance of the identities moment, I believe, when our experience of the world is less that of a long life developing through time than that of a network that connects points and intersects with 25 Instead of just talking about admitting these peoples, contemporaries now accept the task of building constructivist relationships with them. The global village is born. 25 Michel Foucault. (1967) reprinted in Nicholas Mirzoeff, ed. The Visual Culture Reader. (New York: Routledge, 2010)
| 14 Chapter One: Glorification and Exaltation Contemporary transfiguration artists fo cus on the imperfect human body in a variety of ways to promote post postmodernist goals of creating worldwide constructivist relationships through colla borative elaboration. T o pursue this agenda, it is first necessary to change the Western canon to glori fy or exalt marginalized identities. Second they encourage an espousal of these relegated positions by personally changing in outward form or appearance. Lastly, they desire to transform global viewpoints by including the audience and general public in th eir works The body has become recognized as the principal arena for the politics of identity, as well as a facilitator and marker of belonging. 26 This chapter focuses on the first phase of the post postmodernist agenda through artists who glorify or exalt the imperfect human body. Using this unidealized body is a direct challenge to the Western canon; only idealized bodies have traditionally been po rtrayed since they were believed to be repr esentative of a rational mind. The artists discussed here, however, celebrate a previously marginalized position through their emphasis on the flawed human body. 26
| 15 We will first examine artists like Melanie Manchot and Rineke Dijstra who directly challenge the canon by celebra ting body types previously ignored by the Western canon, such as aged, pregnant and adolescent bodies. Many contemporary transfiguration artists, moreover, bring imperfect bodies in the public sphere like Mark Wallinger and Anthony Gormley. Finally we see this glorification of imperfection experience a culmination in artists like Mat Fraser, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Annie Sprinkle, Kiki Smith, Stuart Brisley, and Marc Quinn who portray abject bodi es. 27 Challenging Trad itional Idealizations Many transfiguration artists challenge the Western canon by placing an unidealized human body in a space traditionally reserved for idealized portrayals. This first group of artists focuses on bringing previous ly marginalized body types into the gallery space, an arena typically reserved for the contemplation of aesthetic perfection. M of the 21 st century photographs of her mother posing in landscapes (Figures 1 & 2 ), for instance, breach the representation of aging flesh. A middle aged woman whose body does not conform to Western preconceptions of youthfulness or fertility, and yet who stands bolstered in front of a London landmark or a mountain range, is not the idealized Western nude. The naked woman is still regarded differently from the ideal nude: the latter is not uncommon in the public sphere, while the former is still very much consigned to the private realm. According to Kenneth Clark 27 These Robertson and Craig McDaniel contemporary artists believe that in orde r to understand fully the human condition, we need to perceive the body in its raw physicality and it all its changing shapes and states. In particular, conditions that remind us of mortality aging, disability, pain, illness, and death must not be hidd )
| 16 The English language, with its elaborate generosity, distinguishes between the naked and the nude. To be naked is to be deprived of our clothes, and the word implies some of the embarrassment most of us feel in that condition. The word "nude," on the other hand, carri es, in educated usage, no uncomfortable overtone. The vague image it projects into the mind is not of a huddled and defenseless body, but of a balanced, prosperous, and conf ident body: the body re formed. 28 As such, the ideal nude plays a role similar to t hat of a hero in an epic: it provides the means and occasion to showcase what a particular society believes to be the most desirable qualities in an individual. deconstruct the psychologi c ally distant faade of previous movements instead infusing imagery with human content and connecting art to lived experience s autonomy of the monumental nude has been all but eradicated, and the figure has become acknowledged as a soci al, emotional, fallible [ imperfect] entity rather than a 29 traditionally marginalized, is now glorified and the audience is therefore encouraged to view her deficiencies as desirable qualities. Rineke Dijkstra continues in this vein with her series of nude portraits of women who have recently given birth to their first child such as Tecla, Amsterdam 1994 (Figure 3 ). She captures the exact moments of vulnerability and express ions of pride and relief. She deliberately up 28 Kenneth Clark. The Nude: A Study in Ideal Form. Bollingen Series 35.2. (New York: Pantheon Books, 1956) 3. 29
| 17 30 This directly challenges traditional portrayals that present the post birth woman as clean, calm, a nd content holding a blanket joy as seen in conventional Christian portrayals of the Madonna and Child. She has also created a series of portraits of teenagers on beaches around the world such as Hel. Poland, August 12, 1998 (Figure 4 ). Accordi writer in perhaps on account of their beachwear or maybe the broader discom fort of 31 In this way, she exalts the imperfect realities inherent in significant rites of passage, such as birth and adolescence, to change the canon. The romantic hero ism implicitly characterizing the majority of Western representations of t hese life changes is now used to frame the shortcomings of the contemporary human body. Ecce Homo 1999 replaces the monumental Christ figure with an average contemporary man (Figure 5 ). The unassuming sculpture was cast from an ex art student who worked at the fabricators where it was made. He stands in a loincloth fashioned from a towel with a crown of ba the extreme, and diminutive on the grand pedestal in Trafalgar Square, London, where it 32 And yet it is 30 31 32
| 18 more likely for the viewer to identify with the physical weariness of a patient everyman model than with awaiting his death. wanted to show h im as an ordinary human being. Jesus was at the very least a political leader of an oppressed people and I think he has a place here in front of all these 33 The life size stature of Ecce Homo in a grandiose square is not only a democratic reclamation of public space, but of the canon itself, literally elevating the everyman to a position of importance. The sculptor Anthony Gormley made yet another egalitarian gesture as part of the pl inth ser ies in Trafalgar Square i n One and Other (Figures 6 & 7 ), where he invited members of the publi c to each stand for an hour on the plinth. For a hundred days in 2009, 2,400 people were hoisted in turn onto the empty Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Sq uare and, fo r an hour, were encouraged to do whatever they wanted legality permitting as their contribution to the piece. Randomly selected from 35,000 werewolves, kings, robots and Buzz Lightyear, or they stripped naked or dressed in dra g ; t hey also ironed clothes, unfurled banner or advertised charities. 34 Interrupting the historical practice of installing statues of great military men or demigods in public, the piece instead glorifies a diverse range of people whose average, 33 The Guardian 22 July 1999. Web. 10 February 2012. 34 The Telegraph 29 October 2010. Web. 20 February 2012.
| 19 imperfect qualities one might identify with more readily. 35 While installing a live body in an urban landscape may be a departure for Gormley who is best known for making casts of his own flawed body in iron or lead, both he and Ma rk Wallinger nonetheless consciously, and literally, elevate a new type of fallible hero. 36 Abject Bodies : T he Grotesque, Internal, and Excreted This celebration of the imperfect body leads directly into the work of artists who focus on abject bodies. Images in which the figure is no longer in control over bodily form or processes have become prevalent in recent decades. According to Jean they sprout hair in odd places; limbs are wrenched off; surfaces broken open to show 37 These images typica lly provoke repulsion among viewers, a reaction one could characterize as abject, and are consequently direct challenges to the Western canon contemplation of aesthetic perfection As formulated by Julia K risteva in 1982, a French philosopher and psychoanalyst, abjection refers to the heightened horror and vulnerability one feels when confronted with dismemberment and disfigurement as well as bodily products such as semen, hair, vomit, and excrement V iewer s react with repulsion as they are traumatically reminded of their own materiality. Although disagreeable, embarrassing, and even offensive to 35 13. 36 37 Jean Robertson and Craig McDaniel Themes of Contemporary Art: Visual Art after 1980. ( New York : Oxford University Press, 2010 ) 95.
| 20 acceptable boundaries of appear ance and behavior, abject bodies subvert and resist social practices that tend to suppress individual differences or constrain freedom of expression. In this way, abject bodies can reveal imperfections to which the viewer may relate There are various way s in which contemporary transfiguration artists deal with abjection ; the following discussion focuses on artists who portray traditionally defined grotesque bodies as well as internal and excreted aspects of the abject. To depict these abjections directly confront s the classical, idealized image of unchanging perfection. closed, and complete, in contrast to the grotesque body, which is rough, uneven, unfinished, open, and 38 T herefore, t raditionally, grotesque bodies confronting a neo liberal audience with objectifying theatricalities of a past era. He was born with phocomelia of his arms, resulting in both being severely underdeveloped. Drawing on the work and terminology of the Russian literary critic Mikhail Bahktin, carnivalesque, the tradition of licensed subversion in which [social] hierarchical r ank and 39 In his works, Fraser uses humor to place his relegat ed body at the center of popular cultural form s as on 38 Robertson and McDaniel 95. 39 Robertson and McDaniel 86.
| 21 the rap CD Survival Of The Shittest 1998, or in the theatre piece Thalidomide!! A Musical 2005 (Figure 8 ). 40 This contemporary trend for depicting grotesque bodies in a more favorable light continues throughout popular culture as well. The 2004 m ovie Phantom of the Opera (Figure 9 1986 musical of the same name, which in turn was based on the French novel Le by Gaston Leroux The musical features a musical genius, only identified as the Phantom, who is forced to wear a mask covering the disfigured half of his face. Set in 1870, h e haunts the Paris Opera House, becoming enamored of a young soprano, Christine Daa, and decides to secretly tutor her singing. She believes him to be the Angel of Music that her father spoke of before his death. Due to various plots and schemes, he eventually places Christine as the lead role in an opera, Don Juan Triumphant created by the Phantom h imself. He personally replaces the lead tenor during the performance but everything falls in to chaos once panics, sending the enormous candle chandelier crashing down on the audience, and kidnaps Christine. In the end, she is forced to choose between the Phantom, thereby saving the life of her fianc Raoul, or her own freedom, thereby condemning Raoul to death. She kisses the Phantom and, having experienced genuine kindne ss for the first time in his life, he lets both Christine and Raoul go. 40
| 22 As such the Phantom becomes a romantic objec t. He is portrayed as desirable and glorified as a grotesque figure who nonetheless experiences human emotions. Although based on a French novel written in 1909, the contemporary American film frames the story in a much more favorable light. In the Leroux novel, the Phantom is described as corpse like with no nose, sunken eyes and cheeks, yellow, parchment like skin, a nd only a few wisps of ink black hair covering his head. He is often described as a walking skeleton and Christine graphically describes his cold hands. In the 1986 musical, too, he was originally planned to have a full mask and full facial disfigurement. But the director, Hal Prince realized that it would make expressio n onstage very difficult so the mask was halved The deformity in the musical include d a gash on the right side of his partly balding head with exposed skull tissue, an elongated right nostril, a missing right eyebrow, swollen lips, different colored eyes, and a wrinkled, warped right cheek. In the film adaptation, however, Erik's makeup wa s made to look much less gruesome. Furthermore, film critic Roger Ebert commented that he thought Gerard Butler (the Phantom) was attempt to hide his deformities. 41 In reference to casting the role of the Phantom, Andrew Lloyd Webber even to be a bit rough, a bit dangerous; not a conventional singer. Christine is attracted to the 41 Chicago Sun Times 22 December 2004. Web. 17 February 2012.
| 23 Phantom because he's the right side of d 42 Webber, in this decision, clearly wanted to glorify the disfigured Phantom as a desirable, romantic object. Other abject transfiguration artists focus on the more internalized aspects of an imperfect human body. It is an arena that has been margin alized, if not completely overlooked, in past centuries. Annie Sprinkle, for example, identifies herself as a challenging a ero tic new age performances suffuse lowly pornography with unexpected complexity, as she introduces 43 In her Post Porn Modernist Show 1992 (Figure 10 ) she invited the audience t o view her cervix, made visible through the use of a speculum and a flashlight, as an explicit celebration of traditionally unseen aspects of the human body. Although abjection, in critical theory, is often used to describe marginalized groups, such as wo men, unwed mothers, people of minority religious faiths, prostitutes, convicts, poor people, and disabled people, some transfiguration artists concentrate this idea by focusing on the more rudimentary, visceral forms of abjection. The term abjection litera used to described the etc.). An artist familiar with abjection, Kiki Smith has been known to make sculptures of figures losing cont rol of bodily processes, oozing blood or trailing feces behind them 42 Andrew Lloyd Webber. Phantom of the Opera Dir. Joel Schumacher. DVD Production Notes. Warner Bros., 2004. Film. 43
| 24 as well as cataloguing various bodily fluids in silver jars, imparting scientific overtones. Pee Body 1992 (Figure 11) is particularly enlightening in this analysis. It consists of a crouching wax female figure that is either in the process of urinating or has just finished the act. The urine, more interestingly, is created out of strings of shiny yellow glass beads ar tfully arranged in pools behind the figure. In this way, the urine becomes an aesthetic object to be admired, and glorified, as opposed to the traditional repulsion one is supposed to feel when confronted with such matter. Stuart Brisley is generally fasci nated by the pote ntial usefulness of discarded objects, rubbish and unidentifiable matter built between us 44 His Collection of Ordure b egan in the mid 1990s; th e first showing of some of the Ordure his work at the South London Gallery. The Collection of Ordure (Figure 1 2 ) was later shown in a different curated form at the Freud Museum in 2003 and continues to grow. The Freud Museum show was in fact, involving a Museum of Excrement. 45 The pieces in this series are often enclosed in glass cases or arranged in such a spectacular body, presented in all its glorious mundanity, is meaningful in a way that t he 46 The audience can directly relate to the items on view everyday life. Other 44 45 Stuart Brisley Web. 20 February 20, 2012. 46 lly 28.
| 25 transfiguration artists extend this further by focusing on rudimentary bodily products su ch as DNA and blood. In A Genomic Portrait: Sir John Sulston 2001 (Figure 13 ), for instance, Marc Quinn reduces the representation of the human body to a molecular scale by taking DNA from a sample of the Nobel Prize it in bacterial colonies and mounting it in a stainless steel frame. Using standard methods of DNA cloning, the portrait is the first entirely conceptual portrait to be acquired by the National Portrait G allery in London. Sir John Sulston is the UK's lead ing figure in the development of DNA analysis and played a pivotal role in the Human Genome Project, an international effort to produce the genetic "book" of humankind. The refrigerated, highly reflective frame evokes the clinical atmosphere asso ciated wit h scientific research and prompts viewers to consider their own identity and the personal impact of the Human Genome Project. Marc Quinn came to prominence in 1991 when he exhibited Self (Figure 1 4 ) a cryogenic sculpture, in which the artist's head was cast in his own frozen blood. Furthermore, in 1999, he began a body of work that consists of sculptural portraits of those who have lost limbs at birth, or through illness or accident. The use of a partial body or body parts is a decidedly anticlassical strategy in contemporary art. While related to such historic masterworks as the Venus de Milo, contemporary fragmented figures are deliberate, not the result of accidental breakage. Alis on Lapper Pregnant 2005 (Figure 15) a monumental sculpture of the nude, pregnant body of a disabled artists Lapper (born with no arms and
| 26 shortened legs) was also displayed as part of the fourth plinth series in Trafalgar Square. 47 The marble is a pristine white surface that at first glance evokes classical statues that have lost limbs or exist only as fragments. Yet a closer look reveals that the sculpture is of an average person disp 48 hitherto discussed. Not only does he celebrate the imperfect human body by exhibiting in state funded galleries and desired qualities but he utilizes abject aspects of the body to encourage a much more direct, visceral reaction from the audience. This focus on individualized experiences and linkage speaks directly to the larger post postmodernist agenda of constructivist collaborative elaboration, a process of sharing individual perspectives in which all reality constructions are viewed as valid an d truthful. The postmodern acknowledgment of the existence of these widely varying constructions has evolved into a contemporary desire to accept and glorify their legitimacy as shown in the above works. While these artists are concerned with changing the Western canon to exalt previously marginalized identities, the next chapter features those who focus on changing their own outward form or appearance to personally espouse these positions. Finally, these ideas reach a culmination in artists who alter the b odies and environments of their audience to transform worldviews. 47 Robertson and McDaniel 13. 48 Robertson and McDaniel 82.
| 27 Chapter Two: Change in Outward Form or Appearance The post postmodern artworks and other projects in this discussion focus on using the body as an instrument to generate a more construc tivist and pluralized understanding of the contemporary world. The artists thus far have done this by changing the Western canon to exalt imperfect, human bodies. The artists in this section, however, further promote the post postmodernist agenda by changi ng in outward form or ap pearance. Postmodernism subverted the dichotomous binaries upon which the Western canon stood (e.g. mind/body, white/black, male/female). This w orld and encouraged a fresh reflection on relationships based on worldwide tolerance. Post postmoderns consequently have the task of creating constructivist relationships with, between, and among the hitherto marginalized peoples. As such, contemporaries look toward the one thing that connects us all: the human body. The imperfect human body perfectly encapsulates the transfigurist drive as shown in the preceding section. This agenda is advanced by artists such as VALIE EXPORT, Coco Fusco, and Guillermo Go mez Pe a while artists like Veronika Bromov and Regina Jos Galindo expand post postmodernist ideals into the public arena A culmination of these
| 28 ideas is represented by the evolution of, first, changing the canon to exalt or glorify new identities, then, changing in outward form to individually embrace these identities, and, finally, transforming worldviews to create constructivist relationships. Artistic Self Manipulation Artwork that deals with artistic self manipulation, or the ch anging in personal outward form or appearance, is particularly enlightening in this analysis. These contemporary transfiguration artists seek to achieve pluralistic, constructivist rel ationships in a variety of ways; one such challenge to the canon focuses on the use of the body in public spaces. The introduction of performance and site specific art in the postmodern period radically changed the way public spaces were used for artistic expression. Public art has always served a number of aims; from the imp osition of monumental sculptures intended to communicate wealth or good taste to grassroots projects designed to generate dialogues between people who habitually use a certain space. Communal spaces, whether urban or rural, are complex places in which soci al and leisure activities unite and collide. To place an impermanent, imperfect human body in a public space not only punctures the grander ambitions of monumental public sculpture, but can also present the viewer with an uncomfortable schism between the a ccepted norms of previous eras and a desire to transcend these norms. Postmodern feminist work provides important examples when the traditional nude completed its metamorphosis from an objectivized or metaphorical image into a confrontational and self Tapp und Tastkino 1968
| 29 (Figure 16) p assers view by the curtains of a miniature theatre attached to her chest a willful suspension of social norms in a public place. 49 She thus not only glorifies a flawed body (as opposed t o ody), but she encourages the audience to interact with it physically. To that extent, it belongs within a specific history: that of artworks designed to make viewers conscious of the context in which they find themselves. This was the 1960s, or site specific installations. 50 The body at this time was regularly employed in aggressive acts of self definition and audience provocation. VALIE EXPOR T, by wearing the theatre and having participants touch her breasts, exposes the discomfort that participants are supposed to feel when publically presented with an imperfect body. The theatre, especially, places the piece within the realm of direct public presentation as theatres are designed to be venues of display The audience is then invited to question this previously automatic response. This discomfort stems from the public (and often private too) censure of the unidealized human body found througho ut history. Traditionally, only idealized nudes have been accepted into the Western canon because they were representative of a rational mind. VALIE EXPORT thus changes the canon by glorifying her own imperfect body that she has changed in outward form, or presentation. It is perhaps this legacy of 49 50 Nicolas Bourriaud. Antinomies of Art and Culture: Modernity, Postmodernity, Contemporaneity. (Durham: Duke University Press, 2008) 167.
| 30 protest and transformation that attracts many contemporary artists to participatory art and explains the diversity of practitioners working in the post postmodern period. 51 Pea further the post postmodernist agenda by changing in outward form or appearance to personally espouse marginalized identities. In 1992, they put themselves on display as anthropologi cal subjects in a gold cage, steadfastly returning the stare of museum visitors as part of the event This event was organized in performance piece had an illu strious two year exhibition history : performances at Covent Garden in London, The National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C., The Field Museum in Chicago, the Whitney Museum's Biennial in New York, the Australian Museum of Nat ural History, and finally in Argentina, on the invitation of the Fundaci n Banco Patricios in Buenos Aires. 52 The pair epitomized marginalized identities by combining their physical attributes with adopted mannerisms. Their intent was to create a satirical commentary on Western concepts of the exotic, primitive Other. 53 They wore costumes of sewing voodoo dolls, for instance And, if a spectator dropped a coin into a gold box, they danced to rap music or posed for Polaroids. Gomez Pea was dressed in an Aztec style breastplate, complete with a 51 14. 52 Postcolonial Studies at Emory University (Spring 1998). 53 Coco Fusco. The Visual Culture Reader. (New York: Routledge, 2010) 556.
| 31 leopard skin face wrestler's mask. Fusco, in some of her performances, donned a grass skirt, leopard skin bra, baseball cap, and sneakers. She also braided her hair, a readily identifiable sign of "native authenticity." During feeding time museum guards passed bananas to the artists and when the couple needed to use the bathroom they w ere escorted from their cage on leashes. At the Whitney Museum in New York they added sex to their spectacle, offering a peek at authentic Amerindian male genitals for $5. 54 Entitled Two Undiscovered Amerindians Visit Madrid 1992 (Figure 17 ), the artwork w as a complex piece of self display, at once convolutedly ironic and utterly direct. In a similar fashion to the live human spectacles of the past, Fusco and Gomez Pea exemplified the role of cultural "other" for their museum audiences. They aimed to creat prejudiced beliefs and preconceptions which marginalized the character represented by Fusco and Gomez Pea. They obviously place themselves in a passive position through the use of the cage, exaggerated racial stereotypes, and required escorts and feeders; it is the same passive position of the identities hitherto ostracized by the Western canon. As such, Fusco and Gomez Pea explicitly parody previous Eurocentric discrimination tactics These prejudices have moved on from the now obsolete cultural phenomenon of slave markets and lynching blocks; but for two black artists to take a self ironizing approach produces complex layers of confusion, complicity, and incredulity in the more 54 Fusco 558.
| 32 thoughtful viewer and, perhaps more worryingly, complacent recognition in others. 55 The Western European practice of putting the indigenous peoples of Africa, Asia, and the Americas on display reached its height in 19 th century pleasure parks, circuses, fr eak shows and world fairs, while in the late 19 th and early 20 th centuries, the fashion for Orientalism led to the widespread adoption of the aesthetics of the Far East to connote theatricalized sensuality and sexual profligacy. 56 Their juxtaposition of th e binary conscious features against the contemporary setting and use of electronics was intended to highlight the absurdity of the Western thus not only scrutinized previous prejudices, but it furthered the movement toward pluralistic, constructivist relationships. However, the artists did not anticipate that their fiction would be believed as truth by more than half of the visitors. As they exemplified the stereotypical role of the domesticated savage, many audience members felt entitled to assume the role of the colonizer, only to find themselves uncomfortable with the implications of the game. 57 As they moved their performance from public site to natural history museum, press ure mounted from institutional representatives obliging them didactically to correct audience misinterpretations. When a few uneasy staff members in Australia and Chicago realized that large groups of Japanese tourists appeared to believe the fiction, they became deeply disturbed, fearing that the tourists would go home with a negative 55 56 y. 57 Fusco 560.
| 33 impression of the museum. This clearly shows that Eurocentric audiences were not the only ones to misunderstand the piece. In Chicago, just next to a review of the cage perfo rmance, the daily Sun Times ran a phone in questionnaire asking readers if they though t the Field Museum should have exhibited Fusco and Gomez Pea to which 47 percent answered no, and 53 percent yes. 58 This does not mean that the piece was unsuccessful, though, as there were a number of visitors who did understand the satire involved. Furthermore, this piece is a testament of the extent to which the values promoted by the Western canon are Gomez Pea could not expose hierarchical prejudices in more than half of the visitors, it is one step of many towards constructivist relationships between post postmoderns. Such a huge cultural transformation cannot happen quickly. Gomez Pea continued to address these iss ues in another of his collaborative projects, Mexterminator 1997 (Figure 1 8 interactive performance/installation functions as a living museum of techno dioramas 59 The characters, created by La Pocha Nostra, are based on thousands of anonymous online responses by net users ( www.mexterminator.com ). They re interpret their proposals for 58 Fusco 564. 59 ven proponents of identity politics increasingly believe that multiculturalism has become an institutionalized strategy tha t has led to the assimilation of diverse populations within parameters that pretend to valu e race, ethnicity, and other markers of identity b ut instead actually homogenize meaningful differences and mask pervasive ( Robertson and McDaniel, 57)
| 34 desires toward Latinos, immigrants, and people of color. The resulting dioramas involve physical interaction with the audience, encoura ging visitors to engage in a constructivist reflection on their own psychological and cultural monsters. 60 A s Gomez Pea states in Dangerous Border Crossers to be unnecessarily violent, yet fashionably seductive; techno literate, yet primeval. Politically strident yet gifted with inexplicable shamanic powers and spiritual awareness their mythical Mexicans were contradictory, unpredictable 61 Here, again, Gomez Pea is combining his actual marginal attrib utes with adopted appearance to scrutinize prejudices and encourage tolerance. The struggle to produce ngle most significant challenge, as Gomez 62 La Pocha Nostra ( www.poc hanostra.com ) is an ever morphing trans disciplinary arts organization, founded in 1993 by Guillermo Gomez Pea, Roberto Sijuentes, and Nola Mariano in California. The objective was to formally conceptualize Gomez collaborations with other performan ce artists. It provides a base (and forum) for a loose Their common denominator is the desire to cross and erase dangerous borders between 60 Guillermo Go mez Pea Hemispheric Institute (19 98). 61 62 Andrew Ross. The Visual Culture Reader. (New York: Routledge, 2010) 351.
| 35 art and politics, practice and theory, artist and spectator. La Pocha collaborates across national borders, race, gender, and generations. Its constructivist collaborative model co mmunities of like min he basic premise is 63 La Pocha strives to eradicate myths of purity and to dissolve borders surrounding culture, ethnicity, gende r, language, and mtier. Including the Public Czech artist Veronika Bromov represents further movement from changing in outward appearance to transforming by building constructivist relationships. Her most famous installation Zemzoo Autoportrety [Earthzoo ] 1999 (Figures 19 21 ) was chosen to represent the Czech Republic at the 48 th Biennial of Contemporary Art in Venice in 1999. It was born of feelings of loneliness and expropriation, experienced when the artist spent three months at the International Studi o Program in New York City. 64 It is based on her keen observation of the polar bears in the zoo at Central Park, New York, since she, too, was a cultural outsider removed from her natural habitat. 65 Although the choice of the polar bear as her subject is se emingly incongruous those of her audience to relate to a marginalized identity. This piece is an important example of transfiguration artists because of the environment she creates in her 63 Go mez Pea. 64 Iva Popvicova. (New Brunswich: Rutgers The State University of New Jersey, 2006) 175. 65
| 36 installation. In the gallery, she presents images of her body wrapped in adhesive tape and positions them in front of mirrors stamped with images of the polar bear. The tape is meant to represent the restrictiveness of a zoo habitat and, in this, she claims kinship with the bear. The space also contains a life size sculpture of a polar bear, suspended environment. As such, she immerses the audience in the pol herself has embraced an affinity with the subject. In the installation, she states: glass dividing an artificial underwater world. Changeable human silhouettes in this blindingly blue background. I hear various languages. I guess various ages and sexes. I feel different levels of excitement in whispers, laughter and y boundaries 66 empathy and sharing and to generate links Art (practices derived from painting and sculpture and displayed in the form of an exhibition) proves to be an especially approp riate expression of our contemporary civilization of proximity. It compresses relational space; whereas television and books send one back to spaces where one consumes in private, and the theatre or the cinema bring small groups together to look at univoca l images, there is in fact no live commentary on what a theatre or cinema audience is seeing (the time for discussion comes after the show). At an exhibition, in 66 Veronika Bromov. Zemzoo: Veronika Bromov. (Prague: Aha Publishing, 1999).
| 37 contrast, there is always the possibility of an immediate in both senses of the term discu ssion, even when the forms on show are inert. Art is a site that produces a specific sociability which then produces collective empathy. 67 between the artist and the subject, th e audience and the subject, and the artist and the audience. They all occupy the same marginalized, restricted position. While Coco Fusco Bromo v brings the audience into the cag e with her. In essence, she is changing the canon to exalt an ostracized position by changing the outward form or appearance of both herself and her audience. The feelings of alienation and displacement inherent in this work speak directly to the larger is sue of diasporic groups. Many of these groups are traditionally marginalized against the Western canon and forced to migrate to an Traditional diasporic groups inc lude Jews, Native Americans, African Americans and, most recently, Hispanics These people have long histories of being displaced by dominant state powers. In contemporary society, Hispanics in the United States represent a highly marginalized group of people. They face much discrimination at the hands of Americans, even to the poi nt of violence and hate crimes. As such, contemporary transfiguration artists often focus on these groups to encourage worldwide acknowledgment and acceptance. Bromov personalizes this theme, and, 67 Claire Bishop et al Documents of Contemporary Art: Participation. (London: Whitechapel Gallery, 2006) 161.
| 38 although she focuses on a connection with an animal, her w ork represents a greater awareness of marginalized identities. Regina Jos Galindo directly focuses on diasporic groups by making her works metaphors for the horrors witnessed and suffered by the Guatemalans. In this, she further disseminates the post pos tmodern agenda outside the gallery. She has injected herself repeatedly with valium, thrown herself out with the rubbish at the municipal dump, and journeyed for five days, from Guatemala City to Lima, blindfolded. In the performance Who Can Erase the Trac es? 2003 (Figure 22 ), Galindo dipped her feet in a Court building to the old National Palace. It was a vigorous protest against the s former dictator Jos Efrain Rios Montt. These marks formed an ephemeral but powerful monument to the thousands of civilians murdered by the army during thirty six years of civil war. 68 In the performance, she carried a white enameled bowl of blood through the streets of Guatemala City. Before she began her walk, Galindo dipped each of her feet into the bowl of blood so that she left a trail of bloody footprints on the pavement as she wal ked. She stopped at regular intervals to re dip her feet. This piece was shown in video form at the Venice Biennale in 2005. Regarding the use of her body as an art form, 68 y 45.
| 39 col lective body, a global body. To be, or to reflect, through me, her, his, their 69 Galindo expands her audience from just gallery goers to the public at large. While this still runs the risk of being misunderstood, just as Coco Fusco and Guillermo differ ent way. Blood traditionally elicits a much more visceral, physical reaction than exaggerated costumes and mannerisms. While the latter may be stripped away, there is nothing more real, more material, than blood. Galindo uses both her own body and somethin g that is present in all human bodies blood to generate awareness of stimulate the production of constructivist relationships. This focus on marginalized diasporic groups speaks directly to the larger post postmodernist agenda of constructivist collaborative elaboration, a process of sharing individual perspectives in which all reality constructions are viewed as valid and truthful. While the artists in Chapter One were concerned with changing t he Western canon to exalt previously marginal ized identities, this chapter feature d those who focus on changing their own outward form or appearance to personally espouse these positions. Next these ideas reach a culmination in artists who alter the bodie s and environments of their audience to transform worldviews 69 Graham Coulter Who Can Erase the Traces? Artintelligence (November 29, 2007).
| 40 Chapter Three: Transformation To promote post postmodernist goals of creating worldwide constructivist relationships through collaborative elaboration, contemporary transfiguration artis ts focus on the imperfect human body in a variety of ways. T o pursue this agenda, it is first necessary to change the Western canon to glorify or exalt marginalized identities. Second, these artists encourage an espousal of these relegated positions by per sonally changing in outward form or appearance. Lastly, they desire to transform global viewpoints by including the audience and general public in their works. The following artists transform worldviews to encourage the building of relationships. They not only exalt marginalized identities by changing in outward form or create multip luralistic social relations. F irs t, there are artists who focus on including all the senses in their work such as Lygia Clark and Olafur Eliasson. S econd, those who use the senses to transform the audience into active participants like Jeppe Hein, Graciela Carnevale, and Carsten Hller. T hird, artists like Jacob Dahlgren expand these themes into public spaces. Finally, there is a growth of these concepts in mainstream, or
| 41 popular, culture throu gh the media of dance and music with artists like Adrian Piper and the Black Eyed Peas. Manipulat and Environment To understand the following artists, we must return to the postmodern period to the birth of the global village. Postmodern artists, in their quest for multipluralism, sought a simple way to connect with the others of the world. One such way, they found, senses brings the fresh reflection on relationships down to a rudimentary level of communication. All relationships between beings are fundamentally based on simple sensual interaction; how one sees, smells, hears, ta stes, and feels others; postmodern artists desired to highlight and explore these basic interactions. Lygia Clark investigated the communicative power of intimate exchange a nd sensory exploration in her Dialogue (Figure 23 ) series of the 1960s and 1970s. This piece belongs to her Nostalgia of the Body series, which began in 1964 with individual and two person sensorial explorations. It developed, after 1968, into collective c reations she titled Organic or Ephemeral Architectures The Dialogue goggles restrict the visual field of the two participants to an eye to eye exchange, merging interactivity and dialogism, two of the central concerns in Clark's work. This focus on intera c tivity thus stimulates the thrust tow ard constructive relationships. 70 70 Along with Brazilian artists Amilcar de Cas tro Franz Weissmann, Lygia Pape and poet Ferreira Gullar Clark co founded the Neo Concretist art movement They believed that art was subjective and organic, and that an artwork should be manipulated by the spectator. The Neo Concretists believed that the object and person should become a single entity. They utilized 3 dimensional moveable figure s so that the spectator, in essence, becomes the artist. The art is the actual process of doing. It is during this
| 42 She also started a project called Structuring the Self (Figure 2 4 ) in 1976. In the only text the artist published about this project she makes very little reference to visual qualities She instead refers to the sensations the works provoked through the body: temperature, weight, pressure, volume, density, texture, and so on. This clearly furthers very essence since they only reveal themselves in their encounter with the viewer body. 71 Although this work enlarges the audience to include more than one or two people, it is still restricted to the small number of people who can interact with the works at one time. Post postmodernist trans figuration artists broaden this interactivity to include the entire audience by means of a multi The Weather Project 2003 (Figures 25 26 2003 as Turbine Hall. Artificial sun and mist encouraged visitors to relax as if they were in a landscape, often compelling them to lie on the floor of the vast gallery as i f soaking up real rays. 72 Eliasson employs all of the senses in this work to equalize the audience was covered with huge mirrors in which visitors could see themselv es as tiny black interaction that the spectator truly experiences what the art work means. (Lygia Clark. [Facebook description]. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lygia Clark/103122836394692 .) 71 Suely Rolnik. Antinomies of Art and Culture: Modernity, Postmodernity, Contemporaneity. (Durham: Duke University Press, 2008) 98. 72
| 43 shadows against a mass of orange light. Open for six months, the work reportedl y attracted two million people m any of whom were repeat visitor s. 73 Eliasson clearly disseminate s transfigurist concepts by expanding the audience to include al l visitors to the Tate Modern. All inclusive installations were developed even further, outside the gallery, when multi sensory environments were introduced to theme parks and various attraction sites. Places like Busch Gardens and Harry Potter World in Fl at immerse the participant in an all inclusive sensory experience. This may include spraying the The in clusivity both equalizes and customizes the experience for each individual involved. They are all equal in the sense that each of their subjective experiences is a Other transfiguration artists represent furt her movement toward the creation of constructivist relationships by including physical audience participation. The first step in this process is to place the unknowing visitor in a passive position contributing to the execution of an artwork. For example, Moving Bench #2 2000 (Figure 27 ) is triggered by gallery goer s bodyweight, giving them an impromptu ride across the gallery floor. 74 The next step is to coerce the unknowing visitor into an active position. In the Project for the Experimental Art Series 1968 (Figure 28 ), Graciela Carnevale created a work consisting of a n empty room, with equally empty walls. One of the walls, which 73 New Yorker (13 November 2006) 74
| 44 had been made of glass, was covered with paper to achieve a suitably neutral space for the work to take place. The gallery goers, who had come together by chance for the opening, were locked in. The door was hermetically closed without the audience being aware of it Carnevale describes it : vent them from leaving. Here the work comes in to being and these people are the actors. There is no possibility of escape, in fact the spectators have no choice; they are obliged, violently, to participate. Their positive or negative reaction is always a f orm of participation. The end of the work, as unpredictable for the viewer as it is for me, is nevertheless intentioned: will the spectator tolerate the situation passively? Will an unexpected event help from the outside rescue him from being locked in 75 In this way, the unknowing participant has become active As in Veronika work, the restricted position of the audience directly simulates the ostracized positions of hitherto marginalized identities. The artist has changed the canon by exalting the restricted posit ion of her audience. She altered their outward appearance, or e nvironment, to transform their subjective experiences and consequent worldview. This promotes the creation of constructivist relationships between and among the members of the audie nce of the piece. T he next phase of this is to place a knowing participant in an active position. Originally trained as a phytopathologist (plant pathologist), Carsten Hller has often created experiments in which human participants are sub ject to behavioral situations. The Baudouin/Boudewijn Experiment: A Deliberate, Non Fatali stic, Large Scale Group 75 Graciela Carnevale. Documents of Contemporary Art: Participation. (London: Whitechapel Gallery, 2006) 117.
| 45 Experiment in Deviation was originally planned for the Brussels City of Culture 2000, but proposal. The project finally took place the following year, but unfortunately, it has no visual documentation. The experiment was planned as follows: a space is provided to accommodate during which the king of Belgium was not king ). The space was closed from the outside world and mobile phones, radios, and TVs were not allowed. This was to emphasize the done commonly. The necessary infrastruct ure (furniture, food, sanitary installations, safety) was provided, but there were no program s or methods for entertain ment (people are free to bring what they like). 76 In other words, Hller created an environment in which knowing active participants will ingly assumed a restricted position. The audience consciously adopted a marginal identity by changing their outward appearance, or environment, to transform their own worldviews. The fact that the audience was primarily Eurocentric is indicative of the lar ger movement away from the hierarchical superiority inherent in the Western canon. Jacob Dahlgren promotes the idea even further by expanding post postmodernist ideals beyond the gallery. His participatory performance Signes 2005 (FIgure 29 ) involved around 350 people of all ages dressed in striped 76 Bishop 144
| 46 clothing converging on a shopping mall in Stockholm for one day. Participants were under instruction s that they should give up their seat in the caf only to another person wearing stripes, and th e video and photographic documentation records a distinct atmosphere of camaraderie. It was based on nothing but the spurious commonality of ness. 77 In this, the knowing active participants willingly embrace, and even exalt, a marginal position by changing their outward appearance to transform n ot only their worldviews but those of the unknowing public who happened upon the mall that day. While t he piece does have the potential to be misunderstood by the public similar to Two Undiscovered Amerindia ns Visit Madrid the post postmodernist agenda to create constructivist relationships is a long process. This transformation began with artists who simply exalted marginal identities. It was then further disseminated by those who changed in outward form or appearance to personally embrace these ostracized positions. Now, we see that artists are attempting to include the public and encourage fresh reflections on the hierarchical prejudices of the Western canon to promote worldwide community based tolerance i n our global village Popular Dance and Music The preceding group experiments directly lead into the work of contemporary transfiguration artists who focus on popular dance and music, media which are in fact traditionally marginalized. Furthermore, popular dance and music are particularly important for the post postmodernist agenda because of their potential for widespread 77
| 47 dissemination. Not only are the media easily transmitted, but they possess the capacity to expand beyond the confines of a specific plac e and time. They can both happen, simultaneously, in any p lace and at any time. T he following artists change the canon to exalt hitherto ostracized forms of expression and change the outward presentation of these positions to promote a transformation of wo rldviews. According to the theories of Jeremy Gilbert and Ewan Pearson 78 mainstream music and dance were always strictly regulated throughout the history of the Western Republic (c. 380 BC), Socrates approves only of simple, functional, militaristic music, and definitely disproves of revelry. Furthermore, in Platonic Socratic thinking more generally, music is regarded as something that must be tied down to and by words. It is als o notable that Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712 1778) distinguished between music as affect (involving the body) and music as source of meaning (involving the intellect); and Immanuel Kant (1724 1804) hated what he called Tafelmusik table music, music not des igned for contemplation. And even Theodor W. Adorno (1903 1969), who saw the critical potential of music, was opposed to the bourgeois dance music of his day. In this, there is a distinct Western tradition of devaluing bodily pleasures (such as dance) and elevating logocentricism, or meaning. Music designed specifically for dancing, then, is regarded as a challenge to the logocentric hierarchy of the canon. In this sense, the body has been subordinated to the mind and does actually counter the rationalism Indeed, quite distinct from the logocentrism of Western intellectual orientations, there 78 As published in Jeremy Gilbert and Ewan Pearson. Discographies : dance music, culture, and the politics of sound. (New York: Routledge, 1999)
| 48 felt by the body, and so music like all sound is registered on a fundamentally different level [than] language or modes of visual 79 The materiality of popular music and dance is therefore both theoretically (philosophically) and practically (culturally) important when considered in a discussion of the body in contemporary art. The logocentrism of Western intellectual culture has led to the suppression of materiality and physicality, as is demonstrated by 80 From 1982 to 1984, Adrian Piper staged a series of collaborative perfo rmances with large or small groups of people, entitled Funk Lessons (Figure 30 ). The first word in the title refers to a branch of African American popular music and dance known as within Afric an American culture since the early 1970s. Funk constitutes a language of interpersonal communication and collective self expression that has its origins in African tribal music and dance. It is also the result of the increasing interest of contemporary Af rican American musicians and populace in tribal sources elicited by the civil rights movement of the 1960s and early 1970s. 81 This medium of expression has been largely inaccessible to Eurocentric culture, in part because of the different roles of social da nce in the different spheres. For example, social dance in Eurocentric culture is often viewed in terms of achievement, 79 Paul Bowman. Deconstructing Popular Culture. (New York: Paulgrave MacMillan, 2008) 110. 80 Bowma n 110. 81 African tribal drumming by slaves was banned in the United States during the nineteenth century, so it ( Adeola Archiving the City (11 June 2010) .)
| 49 social grace or competence, or spectator oriented entertainment. On the other hand, in African cultures social dance is a collective an d participatory means of self transcendence and social union It is also often fully i ntegrated into daily life. I t is based on a system of symbols, cultural meanings, attitudes, and patterns of movement that one must directly experience in order to unders tand fully This is particularly true in funk, where the concern is how completely everyone participates in a collectively shared, enjoyable experience. 82 aim was therefore to transmit and share a physical language that everyone was then empowered to use. Everyone was primarily concerned with refining (short) commentari 83 They were all engaged in the pleasurable process of self transcendence and creative expression in a way that attempted to overcome cultural and racial boundaries. What use. 84 In other words, Piper is exalting a marginal position by changing the outward form, or presentation, of traditionally ostracized forms of expressio n to transform worldviews and promote constructivist relationships. Furthermore, the fact that she is 82 Enigbokan 83 Bishop 131. 84 Bishop 131
| 50 expand beyond the specific place s and times of the sessions, so the po st postmodernist transfigurist agenda advances. This concept of sensory knowledge can be traced throughout contemporary culture, including popular music. A song by The Black Eyed Peas, a racially diverse pop group, is instructive here. To begin with, its t itle rebellious upon for it is often used pejoratively, as an insult. Yet this song does not use the te rm negatively. In fact, the start of the song takes the form of a l ong, loud, clear, drawn out call. The female vocalist starts a capella ringing out like a call to prayer not being used advocated drums fire up and are qu ickly followed by a ca tchy bass riff. The lyrics point out what the bass is doing. At the exact moment the bass line starts, t And the bass 85 The voices build thro ughout this intro, starting with one male voice that is soon joined by a female voice. Then ever more layers of harmonizing female vocals build, until a lead guitar enters and ushers in the transition to the first verse : So when I bust my rhyme, you break your necks We got five minutes for us to disconnect, From all intellect, collect the rhythm e ffect. Obstacles are inefficient, Follow your intuition, 85 Paul Bowman. Deconstructing Popular Culture. (New York: Paulgrave MacMillan, 2008) 105.
| 51 Free your inner soul and break away from tradition From here we move directly into the first chorus: Everybody (ye a!), everybody (ye Get stooped (come on!). Get retarded (come on!), get retarded (come on!), get retarded The point is, the song is designed to be listened to, heard felt danced to. Writing an d reading the lyrics obviously transgresses the spirit, which i s all about the experience The lyrics are clear on this: from the beginning they direct us to what told: automatically respond to the bass, rhythm, and rhymes. When one listens to the music, one feels the rhythm. This (the lyricist suggests) can eradicate social conventions by calling to everyon e in the same way from all intellect [in order to] collect the rhythm effect respect and inefficient away from tradition 86 86 Bowman 106
| 52 In essence, the Black Eyed Peas are changing the t raditions of music in the Western canon to exalt previously marginalized forms of expression (popular music and dance in general) by changing the outward form, or presentation, of these forms. This transforms worldviews on such a large, global scale which is due to the widespread dissemination of pop musi c all over the world. T his song perfectly encapsulates the post postmodernist agenda of contemporary transfiguration artists. It not only for multipluralism, this song furthers these values in a constructivist way by directly emphasizing the widespread potential of the physical connections inherent in dance. This focus on individualized experiences a s well as global dissemination speaks dir ectly to the larger post postmodernist agenda of constructivist collaborative elaboration, a process of sharing individual perspectives in which all reality constructions are viewed as possible and equal The postmodern acknowledgment of the existence of t hese widely varying constructions has evolved into a contemporary desire to accept and glorify their legitimacy as shown in the works featured in this discussion.
| 53 Conclusion post postmodernist goals of creating worldwide constructivist relationships through collaborative elaboration. The featured transfiguration artists pursue this agenda by, first, changing the Western canon to glorify or exalt marginalized identities. Second they encourage an espou sal of these relegated positions by personally changing in outward form or appearance. Lastly, they desire to transform global viewpoints by including the audience and general public in their works. We will first review the analysi s as developed throughout the discussion, then examine other contemporary perspectives. The swelling diversity and fragmentation of identities, introduced to the canon by Postmodernism and the invent of the global village increasingly make it harder to b uild alliances around shared interests and needs. I nterest in identity defined a round traditional markers is wa ning; m oreover, art wor ld fashions and theories are changing. Already writers have been claiming that the terms multiculturalism and identity s ou nd ith different motives, many people began to view
| 54 multiculturalism as 87 A new generation of artists, mostly born after the political struggles of the 1960s 80s, desires to move beyond these ide ntity labels and embrace multiple histories, reinventing them for the 21 st century. These contemporary artists choose to focus on the flawed human form as a ; they also explore the many ways proper behavior, social and economic roles, and power relationships. 88 As such, I have identified the artists examined here as transfiguration artists using all three definitions of the word : to change so as to glorify or exalt; to change in outward form or appearance; and to transform The first chapter of this discussion examine d transfiguration artists who glorify or exalt the imperfect human body. They consciously challenge d the previous values that dictated that only idealized bodies may be accepted into the canon because they are representative of a rational mind. Contemporary artists Melanie Manchot and Rineke Dijstra focus on celebrating vulnerable bodies such as the aged, pregnant, and adolescent, whereas Mark Wallinger and Anthony Gormley literally elevate the everyday man to a level of public importance. These glorification artists create works that clearly celebrate the imperfections of the human body. This idea is taken even further by transfiguration artists who focus on abject bodies the epitome of imperfection. Mat Fraser and Andrew Lloyd Webber exalt the grotesque, deformed body, while Annie Sprinkle internalizes this examination of the human body, hav ing audiences view her 87 Robertson and McDaniel 57. 88 Robertson and McDaniel 76.
| 55 cervix as part of a performance piece. And, finally, there are the artists who aestheticize bodily excretions: Kiki Smith with urine; Stuart Brisley with feces; and Marc Quinn with DNA and blood. The second chapter examined an expans ion of the post postmodernist agenda through artists who alter their own bodies by changing in outward form or appearance. VALIE EXPORT provides an important example of postmodern feminist works that test traditional social boundaries, challenging the view er to feel her breasts hidden behind a curtain. Contemporary artists Coco Fusco and Guillermo Gomez Pea further these ideas by personally espousing marginal identities and placing themselves in a passive position through the use of a cage. Veronika Bromo v claims affinity with the polar bears at the Central Park Zoo in New York, NY, while Regina Jos Galindo chooses to focus on the experiences of politically oppressed Guatemalans. These artists embrace marginalized positions to create a linkage between th emselves and those previously minimalized by the canon. In the third chapter, o ther transfiguration artists alter ed the bodies and environments of their audience to encourage more widespread kinship with the An important postmodern precursor is fo und in the work of Lygia Clark who encourages the use of all five senses to interpret material and artistic objects. Artists like Olafur Eliasson take this idea further to create all inclusive sensory environments, which are then simulated in popular theme parks. Jeppe Hein, Graciela Carnevale, and Carsten Hller develop the objective of inclusive audience participation, while Jacob Dahlgren presents these concepts in the public arena.
| 56 Finally, these post postmodernist transfiguration goals reach a culminat ion in the works of artists like Adrian Piper and the Black Eyed Peas through the media of popular dance and mus ic to transform worldviews. Adrian Piper utilizes the genre of funk music to teach participants how to listen by dancing, whereas the Black Eyed Peas encourages everybody such, they aim constructivist relationships These contemporary artistic explorations of the human body reflect a ttitudes in our culture at large ; very artist whose work derives from [these] relational aesthetics has hit his or her own world of forms, his or her problematic and his or her trajectory: there are no stylistic, thematic or iconographic links between th em. 89 The fact that the se artists operate with in the same practical and theoretical horizon s in terhuman relationships connects them. T on the other hand, a re seldom clear cut or one sided. In the United Sates, for instanc e undamentalist churches exercise a by spending money to buy advertising to communicate messages about the moral need to abstain from premarital sex t his message directly competes with the influential m essage advocated that sexual desire and its fulfillment are highly pleasurable and a natural and healthy expression of youth 90 89 Bishop 165. 90 Robertson and McDani el 80.
| 57 This is a challenge to the traditional regulation and restriction of sexual expression. Similar contests concerning public attit udes regarding bodily appearance and display are waged globally Cultural battles over bodies address a variety of issues i ncluding, but not restricted to, social conventions dictating the preferred type of body (size, shape, age, and color); taboos again st specific forms of sexual expression; attitudes toward what constitutes mental and physical well being; moral and legal ramifications of medical decisions affecting the sick and dying; and rules governing the treatment of prisoners, patients, and other i nstitutionalized people. 91 Generally, battles over bodies boil down to several que stions: Who is in charge of how we see a body, when we see it, why we see it, and what it means to us when we see it? The past three decades have been eventful in virtually every area of human activity, including politics, medicine, science, technology, culture, and art. Contemporary life is in a constant state of change: O ld hierarchies and categories are fracturing; new technologies are offering different ways of conceptua lizing, producing, and showing visual art; established art forms are under scrutiny and revision; an awareness of heritages from around the world is fostering cross fertilizations; and everyday culture is providing both inspiration for art and competing vi sual s timulation. 92 In the art world e very medium, scale, and type of forum or venu e is utilized with many purposes and ideas. Hybridity, a blending or fusion of cultural influences is endemic to being a contemporary Hybridity is found in all cultures worldwide; no culture has ever been 91 Robertson and McDaniel 80. 92 Robertson and McDaniel 11.
| 58 immune to the constant exchanges and adaptations that result f rom migration, displacement, or contact with other cultures. Today this phenomenon is intensified because of the rapid spread of information and ideas through international media and commercial for ces. This notion of syncretism, the combining of different (often contradictory) beliefs, suggests that there is not now nor has there ever been an absolute difference between self and others. South African ar tist Gavin Jantjes even claims that there are peripheries full of authentic others 93 This thesis considers contemporary art that focuses directly on the body and what the body means. The featured transfiguration artists have utilized a range of strategies and motifs to deal with the imperfect human body in unusual ways by elevating it to public importance, by showing elements of the as those of th eir audience, and, finally, by transforming how the public interacts and interprets. In this way, they are encouraging all people to generate knowledge and meaning from the interaction between their experiences through collaborative elaboration. Art is a s tate of encounter. 93 A Fruitful Inc oherence: Dialogues with Artists on Internationalism (London: Institute of International Visual Arts, 1996) 16.
| 59 Figures Figure 1 Melanie Manchot, The Flowerbed (Liminal Portraits) 1999. Photograph. www.melaniemanchot.net Fig ure 2 Melanie Manchot, With Mountains I (Liminal Portraits) 1999. Photograph www.melaniemanchot.net
| 60 Figure 3 Rineke Dijkstra, Tecla, Amsterdam 1994. Photograph, 60 x 50 in. Exhibited at Matthew Marks Gallery, Fall 1997. Figure 4 Rineke Dijkstra, Hel. Po land, August 12, 1998 1998. P hotograph, 1451 x 1171 mm. Baltimore Museum of Art, Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Fund.
| 61 Figure 5 Mark Wallinger, Ecce Homo 1999. White marble resin. Google images.
| 62 Figure 6 Anthony Gormley, One and Other 2009. Practice performance. Google images. Fig ure 7 Anthony Gormley, One and Other 2009. Performance. Google images.
| 63 Figure 8 Mat Fraser, Thalidomide!! A Musical 2005. Performance. Google images. Fig ure 9 Poster for Phantom of the Opera 2004. Film. Google images.
| 64 Figure 10 Annie Sprinkle, The Sprinkle Salon 1992. Performance. Google images.
| 65 Figure 11 Kiki Smith, Pee Body 1992. Wax sculpture with yellow glass beads Exhibited at Editions Fawbush, Spring 1993.
| 66 Figure 12 Stuart Brisley, The Collection of Ordure 200 2. Multi media installation. T he Freud Museum in London, www.stuartbrisley.com
| 67 Figure 13 Marc Quinn, A Genomic Portrait: Sir John Sulston 2001. Polycarbon ate agar jelly, bacteria colonies, gel cell, refrigerated stainless steel frame www.nature.com
| 68 Figure 14 Marc Quinn, Self 1991. Refrigerated cyr ogenic cast. Google images. Figure 15 Marc Quinn, Alison Lapp er Pregnant 2005 Marble sculpture. Google images.
| 69 Figure 16 VALIE EXPORT, Tapp und Tastkino 1968. Interactive performance. Google images.
| 70 Fig ure 17 Coco Fusco and Guillermo Gomez Pena, Two Undiscovered Amerindians Visit Madrid 1992. Performance. Google images. Figure 18 Guillermo Gomez Pena Mexterminator 1997. Performance. Google images.
| 71 Figure 19 Veronika Bromov, Zemzoo 1999. Mu lti media installation (detail). Google images. Figure 20 Veronika Bromov, Zemzoo 1999. Mu lti media installation (detail). Google images.
| 72 Figure 21 Veronika Bromov Zemzoo 1999. Mu lti media installation (detail). Google images.
| 73 Fig ure 22 Regina Jos Galindo, Who Can Erase the Traces? 2003. Performance. Google images.
| 74 Figure 23 Lygia Clark, Dialogue series,1960s/70s. Inter active multi media installation. Google images. Fig ure 24 Lygia Clark, Structuring of the Self 1976. Interactive multi media installation Google images.
| 75 Figure 25 Olafur Eliasson, The We ather Project 2003. Multi media installation. Google images. Figure 26 Olafur Eliasson, The Weather Project 2003. Multi media installation (detail) Google images.
| 76 Figure 27 Jeppe Hein, Moving Bench, 2000. M ulti media installation. Google image s.
| 77 Figure 28 Graciela Carnevale, Project for Experimental Art Series 1968. Interactive performance Google images.
| 78 Figure 29 Jacob Dahlgren, Signes d'abstraction 2005. Performance Google images.
| 79 Figure 30 Adrian Piper, Funk Lessons 1983. Interactive p erformance lessons (film still). Google images.
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| 82 Contemporaneity. Durham: Duke University Press, 2008. Print. Postcolonial Studies at Emory University ( Spring 1998 ) Web. 15 November 2011. Van Meter, P. and Stevens, R.J. Journal of Experimental Education 69.1 (2000): 113 129. Web. 27 January 2012. Webber, Andrew Lloyd. Phantom of the Opera Dir. Joel Schumacher. DVD Production Notes. Warner Bros., 2004. Film. New Yorker 13 November 2006. Web. 22 November 2011.