Women in art: politics of embodiment

Course Dates: 05/06/19 - 03/07/19
Time: 18:30 - 20:30
Location: KS - Keeley Street
Tutor: Irina Chkhaidze

Discover the work of prominent modern and contemporary women artists from the early twentieth century to the present. We focus on the representation of body and body-related practices within their respective political and social contexts.


What is the course about?

The idea of embodiment, and the use of the body and its 'objects': hair, nails, blood, saliva, and so forth, has a prominent place in contemporary art. From the 1960s onwards, European and American women artists’ interest in using their own bodies in their art significantly increased, calling attention to the social and political significance of representation of the body. Artistic movements such as ‘Happening’ or ‘Fluxus’ focused on conducting repetitive everyday actions, where the performers attempted to erase the division between the viewer and the maker, the everyday and the artistically produced. Artists such as Ana Mendieta used their bodies to actively inhabit and interact with the earth and its landscape. In this same period, feminist historians and theorists promoted the idea that body imagery is central in constructing identity. Both artists and theorists attacked traditional approaches that undermined the significance of human embodiment and its materiality, especially those of artistic modernism.

In this 5-session course we focus on the representation of body and body-related practices, and the surrounding concepts. Our initial focus will be on selected works by women avant-garde artists, moving to body and performance art of the 1960s and 1970s, and the feminist art movement. We will explore works in diverse media from painting, sculpture and photography to video and installation. We will finish by looking at most recent artists – dealing with the impact of technological development on our understanding of what it means to be embodied. The course is structured around lectures and class discussions exploring how material changes and the development of ideas surrounding embodiment are reflected in the examined artworks.

Warning: This course contains some visual material that is explicit and may be considered disturbing.

What will we cover?

• Representation or artistic usage of body/body-related practice (painting, sculpture, photography, installation, performance, and moving image) from the avant-garde movements through to the performance art of 1960s and 1970s to most recent art.
• A range of social, political and philosophical issues concerning embodiment.
• Topic of technological development and how it has affected our understanding of bodily limits in art and beyond.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

• Demonstrate improved visual analysis skills by situating works of art in the broader cultural context.
• Name at least two works by women avant-garde artists, two works by performance artists and two by most recent artists that deal with the topic of embodiment.
• Explain the social, political and cultural relevance of artworks dealing with the representation of the body or body-related practices.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

This course is suitable for all levels.

You should be able to follow simple written and verbal instructions, demonstrations, hand-outs and health and safety information, and will be invited to take part in group discussion.
Warning: This course contains some visual material that is explicit and may be considered disturbing.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

You will be taught with slide presentations, group discussions, short group exercises and a guided gallery visit.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

There are no other costs, but you are advised to bring a notebook to the classes. You may like to purchase some of the books suggested on handouts during the course.
Please note we are unable to guarantee stools in an art gallery that we will visit so you may have to stand and to walk between the artworks. The gallery visit will be free.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

General information and advice on courses at City Lit is available from the Student Centre and Library on Monday to Friday from 12:00 – 19:00.
See the course guide for term dates and further details


Book your place

Course Code: VB864

Wed, eve, 05 Jun - 03 Jul '19

Duration: 5 sessions (over 5 weeks)

Full fee: £129.00
Senior fee: £103.00
Concession: £79.00

Or call to enrol: 020 7831 7831

Download form & post

Any questions? humanities@citylit.ac.uk
or call 020 7492 2652

Please note: we offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. For more information visit our online Help Center. You can also visit the Information, Advice and Guidance drop-in service, open from 12 – 6.45, Monday to Friday.