2015 : The Year Of The Body

by Liz on January 20, 2015

in Art & Design

Photo courtesy of Tamara Černá

The body matters in modern East Asia because it is the driving force behind social formations in both capitalist and post-socialist domains. The body and ideas of the body are used to build order — and discipline the masses through the invention of individuality. Put another way, we are individuals because we possess bodies, and we decorate them according to our tastes. Never mind that the concept was not in circulation in the pre-modern societies of China, Korea and Japan, where hereditary rule or rigid class structures meant group form trumped most other forms of identity.

Because now, of course, individuality is everywhere and the way the body is imagined or regarded dominates lives. These lives are represented as ‘liberated,’ but in truth are subject to interiorized discipline that allows bodies to willingly surrender to other forces.

So why is 2015 the Year of the Body for Manifesto?

In part it’s because the rise of the body, and its role in the material culture of the Asia-Pacific, has been largely disregarded. The irony, of course, is that its significance presides over the economies and the emotional lives of those who utilize the inner and outer gaze to adorn their bodies, or stay sufficiently motivated to keep it in good health, whether out of vanity, or simply to stay in good condition in the workplace.

From time to time I’ll call out on instances where too much emphasis is being placed on the body, both in the female and male domains. Yet other times I’ll demonstrate how the modern Asian embrace of the body as a kind of secular temple – has and will continue to bring about new sub-cultures that may be unique to its geography.

Lastly I’ll keep readers abreast of global Asian celebrity culture, and how the faces and bodies of contemporary entertainment reflect changing ideals.

I might even blog about what they’re wearing, ask Seoulites what they think beauty means, or examine art that puts body and bodily anxieties at its center.

So stick around. It’s going to be an exciting year.

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