Fit Bodies: Statues, Athletes and Power

A small and interesting exhibition at UCL on views of the (beautiful) human body over millennia, from Greek sculpture to female bodybuilders, usefully augmented by entries from a student competition of photographs on the same theme. The entries are here; the winner was Mara Gold with her fun “Greek women taking a rest at Olympia” (slightly cropped below; full version on previous link).

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At tonight’s opening there was a typically academic (gracious, charming, informative, thoughtful) welcome speech from a Vice-Provost of the College, and a more unusual excerpt from a play about women’s attitude to their bodies (Botox, nip’n’tuck etc).

The exhibition brought home the artistic, artificial, constructed nature of how we perceive the human body, and how people, often women, are socially constrained, sometimes at great risk to their health, to amend artificially their appearance towards a perceived ideal. The Vice-Provost’s best example was Japanese women acting and looking consumptive in imitation of Violetta Val√©ry from La Traviata, but the dramatic excerpt as well made clear the sadness of some women’s fear of ageing.

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