In body art, the body used as the art’s medium itself. Body artists go beyond the concept of traditional representation to experience the aesthetic event openly and directly in first person. Body art is also considered as a sub-category of performance art, a type of art in which the artist uses his own body to make his particular statements. Body art is closely associated to tattoo shops although it encompasses a much broader concept other than that.
The popularity of body art believed to have started in 1965 by the Vienna Action Group made up of four individuals namely Otto Muhl, Herman Nitsch, Rudolf Schwartzkogler, and Gunter Brus.1 Individually and as a group, they performed a number of body art actions and performances which most of them have documented through text and photos. Many other artists all over the world followed suit, spearheaded by performer Marina Abramovic, photographer Spencer Tunick, film director Rebecca Horn, sculptor Jana Sterbak, and painter Youri Messen-Jaschin. Body art became popular in France only in 1980 courtesy of artists such as Michel Journiac, Gina Pane, and Ketty La Rocca.
Using the body as the canvas for art or medium for self-expression won’t go by without controversies. For the most part, the first artists who followed and introduced the concept of body art themselves have used socially taboo practices to generate the mileage necessary for their art movement. Referred to as an extreme body art, practices such as dancing until exhaustion, getting the body badly sunburned, dissection of preserved or plastinated body parts, and genital piercings are just a few of the widely celebrated controversies associated with this art form.
Body Art Events
Body Arts is a very novel way of self expression supported by various artists all over the world. As a highly celebrated art form, different events honoring it as an art form were held annually in many cities worldwide. These events were participated by artists and their models who exhibit paintings, tattoo, and piercings on their bodies.
A few of the major body art events held regularly are the Burning Man festival at the Black Rock Desert in northwest Nevada, the Sydney Body Art Ride conceived by Australian artist Jake Lloyd Jones, and the recent public body painting session held in Times Square, New York2.
It’s easy to assume that one can get body art from tattoo shops. However, real body artists implement the concepts of aesthetics and the arts in their works. A few of the most notable body art accomplishments are Lennie Mace’s temporary tattoo drawn in ballpoint pen (2006), Lizard (2007), and Butterfly (2007).
Aside from the names mentioned above like Gina Pane and Rudolf Schwarzkogler, there are a few modern artists who are avid followers of body art. They are as follows: Gunter Brus, Birgit Jurgenssen, Urs Luethi, Hermann Nitsch, Luigi Ontani, Orlan, Arnulf Rainer, Katharina Sieverding, and Timm Ulrichs.