[-empyre-] Surface - Bodies & Buildings

Michele Danjoux mdanjoux at dmu.ac.uk
Thu Mar 22 10:01:19 EST 2012

Thank you Kristine, for the link, I enjoyed reading this essay very much and couldn't help but think we are almost 20 years on... Madonna (mentioned in this essay) has transitioned many more times since her 'Sex' book in the early 1990's... and Michael Jackson (also mentioned), became ravaged, whitened and straightened in a movement of metamorphosis away from his roots and his own skin.

>.The community gathered in French towns and villages to shear her head with animal clippers and then smear the sign of the swastika in soot on her bald forehead. The citizens judged her a "horizontal collaborator" for having sex with German soldiers during World War II. Denigrated and denounced as a whore, she was even stripped naked sometimes before being paraded through town, a token of the emblematic territories, defamations, and controls of war. She remained solitary amidst the molesting, persecuting assembly, exiled in a particularly sordid historical moment in a throng of her countrymen and women. >>

Actually, the fashion designer Coco Chanel was subjected to this very same ritualistic act for supposedly 'sleeping with the enemy.'

Away from inflicted body modification, the essay raises interesting questions about choices we make to modify our own bodies (specifically shaving head and having tattoos) and what this might mean, how it might be interpreted and experienced. It also makes me think about the transference of the ideas from our own surfaces to the surfaces of buildings and architectures through which we move, 'existing in primary relation to the situated body, not its representation but its activation, in all senses, all gaugings of weight and measure, size and scale.'  This is how the artist Richard Serra talks about his architectures and structures in relation to moving dynamic bodies. I experienced some of his works at the Guggenheim in Bilbao a few years back now, his torqued ellipses and spirals, geometries... And I experienced the thrill of the graffitied building (images attached) - unexpectedly whilst traversing the streets of New York - on a little detournement. 

It was nestled beautifully between two very chic designer stores.


-----Original Message-----
From: empyre-bounces at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au on behalf of Kristine Stiles
Sent: Wed 3/21/2012 1:10 PM
To: soft_skinned_space
Subject: Re: [-empyre-] Extension on Sabela's text
Dear all,

Terrific commentary on dress and body decoration in the 1970s/80s, as well as some of the sources of tattooing in the emergence and "emergency of urban tribes," that Sabela notes below, and about which my Duke colleague Mariana Torgovnick wrote in Gone Primitive: Savage Intellects, Modern Lives (1991). There are other sobering sources about which I wrote in "Shaved Heads and Marked Bodies: Representations from Cultures of Trauma" (1993). Perhaps some would be interested in that text: http://www.duke.edu/web/art/stiles/shaved_heads.html


On Mar 20, 2012, at 7:48 PM, Michele Danjoux wrote:

> Hello All,
> I am fascinated by these discussions and feel that I can now interject and extend this notion of (shared) identity and self through body modification (Sabela) to also include dress as further extension. The 70's and 80's were indeed interesting times where social movements influenced the emergence of new sub-cultures and visual and sonic expressions of shared identities- fuelled by political and academic debate of the time. Beliefs systems adorned bodies and skins - in addition to body modifications such as tattooing, specific items of clothing were adopted and often customised to achieve the desired attitude of wearing and crafting of identity.
> Also in the 1970's on the streets of London came the rise of black power and black consciousness. Men and women began to wear African tops and debates on black identity were similarly expressed through dress and styling with natural Afro hairstyles also enjoyed. (How different from today's de rigueur straightening of unruly locks in the capital city of Kenya (inspiring such products as Nairobi Hair Relaxer) to achieve that chic and desired urban look).
> The body is central to the urban space, the clothed and adorned body, the naked body, the absent body where only bones and cloth remain (reference to Ana's post). Bradley Quinn in his book The Fashion of Architecture, Fashioning the Metropolis says:
> "Clothes, being the form in which the fashioned body is made visible, give the wearer a public identity while fostering the construction of the self."
> Kind Regards,
> Michele
> -----Original Message-----
> From: empyre-bounces at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au on behalf of Ana Valdés
> Sent: Tue 3/20/2012 1:05 PM
> To: soft_skinned_space
> Subject: [-empyre-] translation of Sabela's text
> The actual extended practice of the tattoing has their roots of the
> emergency of the urban tribes, associated with the movements around rock
> music and punk in the 70:s and 80:s.
> A selfinflicted sign of identity, traditionally the different uses of
> tattoin has been linked with rites de passage, initiation rites, belonging,
> hierachies or stigmatization. In this forum I shared the experience of the
> MAPI Museum, to try of expose the link between these practices and the
> bodypainting of differen indigenous communities, both actual as old and
> other kind of intervention showable in faces and bodies, very similar to
> our time's piercings, pendants and more aggresive interventions implicating
> deformating and appendixes.
> The incorporation of different tendences in the clothing, hair,
> facepainting and "attitude" of the urban tribes show a disconformity
> regarding the mainstream conventions of uses and fashion. This
> disconformity walk around the streets; their shelter is the appereance, it
> gives the implicite etablishing of collectives which interchange don't seem
> have other meaning than the gests and models of behaviour tending to
> accentuate the difference with the rest of people. These colletives impose
> upon the urban landscape a kind of movement in different times.
> From the loudness to the low key the members of those groups, linked or
> representated by musical styles where they feel they belong, they use the
> tattoo as part of their language: those marks which survive the pass of the
> time, which power resides both in the intimate evocation which exclude all
> "others", as in the show off of their designs.
> In Uruguay, most in Montevideo, the antecedents of this particular social
> expression goes to the end of the Uruguayan dictatorship, in the 80:s.  There
> is the beginning of the circulation of groups of young people with dark
> clothes and colorful accesories, pale faces and expressions showing they
> were nightowls and the use of alcohol, etc. They went to specific bars,
> pubs in special hours; displacements marking the limits between territories
> which fragility could be interpretated as frustration or as capacity of
> constructing microclimates, a kind of defense.
> Tattoomakers and tattoed were together during a month in a museum. The
> museum was a legitimating institution, constructing the collective memory,
> keeper of Art and the history of the old, which traditional role in the
> last decades has been analyzed, questioned and reformulated and whose
> social and cultural responsability it's not far from the educational
> emergency, the need of inclusion and the construction of citizenship.
> I share with you these open lines.
> --
> http://www.twitter.com/caravia158
> http://www.scoop.it/t/art-and-activism/
> http://www.scoop.it/t/food-history-and-trivia
> http://www.scoop.it/t/gender-issues/
> http://www.scoop.it/t/literary-exiles/
> http://www.scoop.it/t/museums-and-ethics/
> http://www.scoop.it/t/urbanism-3-0
> http://www.scoop.it/t/postcolonial-mind/
> mobil/cell +4670-3213370
> "When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with
> your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been and there you will always
> long to return.
> - Leonardo da Vinci
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
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