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Should naked human body be used as an art symbol?
(Beijing Review)
Updated: 2005-07-20 11:26

Becoming More Aware of Our Bodies

Li Gongming (Professor with Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts): Discussions about performance art has been ongoing since the 1990s. But this time, the debate is unparalleled and more heated than ever before. Now, it is probably because these were a group of art students and the photos of their performance spread rapidly over the Internet. Adding to the debate are issues of morality and ethical behavior of the naked human body.

The whole thing in essence is an issue of nudity. In this case, I’d rather believe that disputes over the exhibition of the human body is just the struggle between enslavement and emancipation. As a result, the re-discovery of the significance of the body has become one of the most valuable achievements by the new wave of thinkers and artists.

Obviously, the major unavoidable concern in performance art where the body is naked is sex and sexual behavior. Some people even believe that every form of art is pornographic. But modern art views the body as the fundamental problem of existence. As humans, our inner desire, instinct and will, continually clash with the ethics of the body in the name of art, exploring the visual domain of sociology of body. Young students, especially those from academies of fine arts, are desirous, emotional, impulsive, outgoing and nomadic. In a word, their bodies are just like the post-modern image text. The 41 students display a game spirit vividly and naturally in the @41 project.

In this performance, we see a bunch of playful youth and their simulated activity. In the process, there is no rigid traditional value and the performance is a game full of aesthetic pleasure. The spirit is pure, free and illusionary, leaving nothing but the sheer joy of youth.

The presence of the body in social activity is independent of the mind. It is because of this, we are in pressing need for research in the fields of sociology of the body, ethics of the body and philosophy of the body.
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