The Museum of the Unclothed Body, located in a place of your choosing, has opened a new exhibition on the naked body from the Renaissance to the present, focusing on the Early Modern and Modern periods of the Euro-American tradition with Mediterranean roots (the material we have covered in the last part of our course). The goal of the exhibition is to question stereotypical representations of identity that have dominated this visual production through depictions of the naked body, by pairing works that can be considered traditional, conventional, mainstream, or dominant with works that are non-traditional, unconventional, alternative, or subversive. The director of community outreach has asked you to write an exhibition review for their website. The goal is to help the general public understand the main objective of the exhibition. To do so, discuss three pairs of images of your choice (for a total of six highlights) and explain how, in each pair, one image upholds and the other questions stereotypical identity constructs.
The main objective of the exhibition is to raise awareness about the ways in which the representation of the naked body in this artistic tradition is implicated in the construction of unequal power relations and stereotypical and oppressive identities of the self and Other (for example in terms of gender, sexuality, class, race, ethnicity, culture, etc.) in 850-1000 words. For this reason, exhibited works are organized around a number of sections (for example, on specific subjects or specific identity markers) and in each section, works are grouped in pairs of opposite depictions: traditional versus non-traditional, conventional versus unconventional, mainstream versus alternative, dominant versus subversive. This pairing is meant to highlight not only that the traditional and mainstream representations are limiting, oppressive, and exclusive of diversity broadly understood but also that visualizing alternatives is essential, hopefully, and done by many artists. In other words, the exhibition exposes the distorting effects of traditional identity politics and gives visibility to cultural producers and visual expressions that advocate for and contribute to change.
In order to publicize the exhibition, support its potential to make a significant cultural intervention, and educate the public through outreach in the local community, the director of community outreach has given you the responsibility to write a review essay for the website.
The goal in this essay is two-fold
Explain why the overall theme and specific perspective of the exhibition are significant and relevant to the local community (considering the city and country in which your museum resides).
Explain how your highlight pieces shed light on the exhibition’s message regarding representations of the naked body in the Euro-American tradition: how do representations of the naked body participate in identity politics, either supporting or questioning stereotypical identity constructs, and therefore erasing or acknowledging the diversity and complexity of human identities and experiences?