Written by Agne Ivanauskaite, BA (Hons) Fashion Branding and Communications, BCU.
Within and Without: Body Image and the Self, which is currently being exhibited at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, explores the theme of body image through powerful artworks.
The exhibition, which collaborates with residents of Birmingham, examines the questions, anxieties and stereotypes encountered when trying to attain the ideal body, which is so often reflected in public spaces.
Displaying an array of artworks dating all the way from 1825 to the present day, visitors to the exhibition are invited to think critically, whilst being forced to question their assumptions and reflect on issues of social status, gender, stage of life, health, aesthetics, religion, politics and sexuality.
Amongst the works, you’ll find a photograph of Harriet Horton’s ‘Swim’ sculpture, a representation of freedom within LGBTQ communities, which reinforces the idea that individuals can be both queer and feminine in the same space.
Other highlights include Chila Kumari Burman’s ’28 Positions in 34 Years’, which showcases 28 images, all of which have been painted over to create a mixed media self-portrait that has been reproduced as laser print to explore the construction of the artist’s racial and sexual identity. Throughout the images, she wears a variety of different costumes to highlight the fluidity of identity and the ways in which we represent and shape ourselves.
One of the most prominent features of the exhibition is the Empathy Body Trail, where you can personalise your own experience, depending on your own personal views and impulses, and you’ll find as soon as you enter.
However you choose to interpret the exhibition, this free event is well worth the visit and will be running until February 2019.