The 1990s have seen an explosion of interest in body art, in which the artist's body is integral to the work of art. With the revoking of NEA funding for such artists as Karen Finley, Tim Miller and others, public awareness and media coverage of body-oriented performances have increased. Yet the roots of body art extend to the 1960s and before. In this book, Amelia Jones explores body art projects from the 1960s and 1970s and relates their impact to the work of body artists active today, providing a conceptual framework for defining postmodernism in the visual arts. Jones begins with a discussion of the shifting intellectual terrain of the 1950s and 1960s, focusing on the work of Ana Mendieta. Moving to an examination of the reception of Jackson Pollock's "performative" acts of painting, she argues that Pollock is a pivotal figure between modernism and postmodernism. The book continues with explorations of Vito Acconci and Hannah Wilke, whose practices exemplify a new kind of performance that arose in the late 1960s, one that represents a dramatic shift in the conception of the artistic subject. Jones then surveys the work of a younger generation of artists - incuding Laurie Anderson, Orlan, Maureen Connor, Lyle Ashton Harris, Laura Aguilar and Bob Flanagan - whose recent work integrates technology and issues of identity to continue to expand the critique begun in earlier body art projects. Embracing a mix of methodologies and perspectives (including feminism, queer theory, philosophy, psychoanalysis and literary theory), this examination of body art provides historical insight and context that rethinks the parameters of postmodern culture.
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Amelia Jones is Grierson Chair in Art History and Communication Studies at McGill University. Her books include "Irrational Modernism: A Neurasthenic History of New York Dada" (MIT Press), "Self/Image: Technology, Representation and the Contemporary Subject", and "Seeing Differently: A History and Theory of Identification and the Visual Arts."
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