Traditional Arts of the Altered Body

Vision Statement:

Our vision for Traditional Arts of the Altered Body:

“to work in partnership to develop mutually supportive mechanisms with academics, researchers and practitioners to raise awareness of and  promote the study of traditional arts that alter the human form in some way whether transient, temporary or semi-permanent or permanent ”

Within this vision it is important to qualify exactly what it is that we are concerned with, therefore the project team have agreed the following definitions, broad aims and themes which in themselves will frame the project:

what is the altered body?

Defining Traditional Arts of the Altered Body:

  •  “Traditional” is defined as a practice spanning at least three years and participated in by at least 30 people.
  •   “Arts” is defined as a practice that changes the aesthetic appearance of the human form (including the face and hair) according to a cultural norm.

People alter their bodies

Goals of Traditional Arts of the Altered Body:

  • Intends to balance academic research and analysis equally with reconstruction and practice of body alteration;
  •  Intends to encourage investigation and comparison of a broad range of body alterations;
  • Intends to encourage publication and presentation of serious research on body alteration.

Thematic areas explored by Traditional Arts of the Altered Body:

The project recognises that people use their bodies, particularly skin, to communicate with others, and they purposefully alter their bodies to this end:

  •  People alter their bodies to conform to cultural ideals
  •  People alter their bodies to resist cultural ideal
  • People alter their bodies to communicate membership in a group
  • People alter their bodies to communicate individuality outside of a group
  •  People alter their bodies to enhance their hierarchy within a group
  • People alter their bodies and their children’s bodies for the purpose of cultural reproduction
  • People alter their bodies with culturally significant symbols
  • People alter their bodies to manage risk

People alter their bodies to enhance their hierarchy with a group

  • People may alter the body of another to alter that person’s status
  • People may alter the body of another to elevate that person’s status
  • People may alter the body of another to punish that person
there is no cultures that leaves the body in the state of nature The project recognises that people use their bodies, particularly skin, to communicate with others, and they purposefully alter their bodies to this end:

The project recognises that:
(1)    People have always altered their bodies
(2)    People continue to alter their bodies
(3)    People in all countries alter their bodies

The project recognises that there is no culture that leaves the body “in the state of nature”
The project recognises many media are used to achieve alteration:
  • Paint
  • Stains
  •  Piercing
  • Tattooing
  • Scarification
  • Surgical alteration, including appliances and implants
  • Weight alteration
  • Muscle alteration
  • Gender alteration
  • Melanin alteration
  • Hair alteration
  • Branding
  • Mechanical alteration, such as bone shaping and tissue shaping
  •  Superficial alteration, such as through structured garments

People use their skin as a communication tool

Alterations may be transient, temporary, permanent, internal or external The project recognises that all of the above fall into broad categories of
  • Transient
  • Temporary
  •  Permanent
  • Physical
  •  Internal Process
  •  External Process

Traditional Arts of the Altered BodyTraditional Arts of the Altered Body

Return to the index of Traditional Arts of the Altered Body


copyright 2007 - 2009 Traditional Arts of the Altered Body
 www.thealteredbody.com


Graphic Design by Alex Morgan