1. bookVolume 7 (2020): Issue 2 (December 2020)
Journal Details
First Published
16 Apr 2015
Publication timeframe
2 times per year
access type Open Access

A Liberating Experience. On Becoming a Work of Art

Published Online: 26 Jan 2021
Volume & Issue: Volume 7 (2020) - Issue 2 (December 2020)
Page range: 411 - 430
Received: 06 Jul 2020
Accepted: 01 Dec 2020
Journal Details
First Published
16 Apr 2015
Publication timeframe
2 times per year

The art of bodypainting that is fairly unknown to a wider public turns the body into a canvas - it is a frequently used phrase in the field of bodypainting that illustrates the challenge it faces: it uses a three-dimensional surface and has to cope with its irregularities, but also with the model’s abilities and characteristics. This paper looks at individuals who are turned into art by bodypainting. Although body painting can be very challenging for them - they have to expose their bodies and to stand still for a long time while getting transformed - models report that they enjoy both the process and the result, even if they are not confident about their own bodies. Among the reasons there are physical aspects like the sensual enjoyment, but also the feeling of being part of something artistic. This is enhanced and preserved through double staging - becoming a threedimentional work of art and then being staged for photography or film clips. This process gives the model the chance to experience their own body in a detached way. On the one hand, bodypainting closely relates to the body and on the other hand, it can help to over-come the body.


Altheide, D. L. (1987). Reflections: ethnographic content analysis. Qualitative Sociology 10, 65–77.10.1007/BF00988269Search in Google Scholar

Baetens, J. & Bleyen M. (2010). Photo narrative, sequential photography, photonovels. In M. Grishakova & M.-L. Ryan (Eds.), Intermediality and storytelling, (pp. 165–182). Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.Search in Google Scholar

Barthes, R. (1989). Die helle Kammer. Bemerkungen zur Photographie [The light chamber. Comments on photography]. Stuttgart: Suhrkamp.Search in Google Scholar

Beckwith, C. (1990). African ceremonies. New York: Harry N. Abrahams, Inc.Search in Google Scholar

Beloff, H. (1983). Social interaction in photography. Leonardo 16 (3), 165–171.10.2307/1574906Search in Google Scholar

Degele, N. (2004). Sich schön machen. Zur Soziologie von Geschlecht und Schön-heitsidealen [Making oneself beautiful. About the sociology of gender and beauty ideals]. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag.10.1007/978-3-322-80567-6Search in Google Scholar

DeMello, M. (2014). Inked. Tattoos and body art around the world, volume 1: A-L. Santa Barbara, Denver and Oxvord: ABC-CLIO.Search in Google Scholar

Di Martino, E. (2018). Painting social changes on a body canvas: Trans bodies and their social impact. In P. Baker & G. Balirano (Eds.) Queering masculinities in language and culture, (pp. 149–174). London: Palgrave Macmillan.Search in Google Scholar

Eberle, T. S. (2017). Fotografie und Gesellschaft. Thematische Rahmung. In Fotografie und Gesellschaft. Phänomenologische und wissenssoziologische Perspektiven, [Photography and society. A framing. In Photography and Society. Phenomenological and knowledge sociologial perspectives]. Bielefeld: Transcript, 11–72.Search in Google Scholar

Entwistle, J. (2000). Fashion and The Fleshy Body: Dress as Embodied Practice. Fashion Theory 4(3), 323–348.10.2752/136270400778995471Search in Google Scholar

Fayers-Kerr, K. N. (2012). The ‘Miranda‘ and the ‘cultural archive‘. From Mun (Mursi) lipplates, to body painting and back again. Paideuma 58, 245–259.Search in Google Scholar

Fedorak, S. A. (2009). Pop culture. The culture of everyday life. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.Search in Google Scholar

Fischer, L. & Wiswede, G. (2009). Grundlagen der Sozialpsychologie. [Foundations in Social Psychology]. München: Oldenbourg.10.1524/9783486847826Search in Google Scholar

Fisher, A. (1990). Africa adorned. New York: Harry N.Abrahams, Inc.Search in Google Scholar

Fortin, M. (2009). Takona: Body painting in Rapa Nui performing arts. Australasian Drama Studies 55, 150–163.Search in Google Scholar

Gelder, K. (2005). The subcultures reader. London and New York: Routledge.Search in Google Scholar

Gillies, V., A. Harden, K. Johnson, P. Reavey, V. Strange and C. Willig (2004). Women’s collective constructions of embodied practices through memory work: Cartesian dualism in memories of sweating and pain. British Journal of Social Psychology 43, 99–112.10.1348/014466604322916006Search in Google Scholar

Goldner, V. (2011). Trans: Gender in free fall. Psychoanalytic Dialogues 21, 159–171.10.1080/10481885.2011.562836Search in Google Scholar

Gunn, J. (2007). Dark admissions: Gothic subculture and the ambivalence of misogyny and resistance. In L.M.E. Goodlad and M. Bibby (Eds.) Goth undead subculture, (pp. 41–64). Durham and London: Duke University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Henning, T. (2012). Personale Identität und personale Identitäten - Ein Problemfeld der Philosophie. In Petzold, H.G. (Ed.) Identität. Ein Kernthema moderner Psychothera-pie - Interdisziplinäre Perspektiven, [Personal identity and personal identities - a field in philosophy. In: Identity. A core topic in modern psychotherapy - interdisciplinary perspectives]. (pp. 19–38). Wiesbaden: VS Verlag.Search in Google Scholar

Hershman, P. (1974). Hair, Sex and Dirt. Man, New Series 9, 274–298.10.2307/2800078Search in Google Scholar

Hill, D. (2013). Body art. Canberra: National Library of Australia.Search in Google Scholar

Hitzler, R., T. Bucher & A. Niederbacher (2005). Leben in Szenen. Formen jugendlicher Vergemeinschaftung heute. [Life in scenes. Forms of young societies today]. 2. Aufl. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag.10.1007/978-3-322-95691-0Search in Google Scholar

Jerrentrup, M. T.(2018). Therapie vor der Kamera? Zum Potential inszenierter Menschen-fotografie [Therapy in front of the camera? The potential of staged people photography]. Münster: Waxmann.Search in Google Scholar

Jerrentrup, M. T. (2020). Kein Fokus auf das Foto. Fotografieren als Aktivität [No focus on the photograph. Photography as activity]. kommunikation@gesellschaft 21.10.15460/kommges.2020.21.1.613Search in Google Scholar

Jettmar, K. (1994). Body-painting and the roots of the Scytho-Siberian animal style. In B. Genito (Ed.) The Archeology of the Steppes. Methods and Strategies, (pp. 3–25). Papers from the International Symposium held in Naples 9–12 November 1992. Napoli: Estratto.Search in Google Scholar

Joffe, H. (2011). Thematic analysis. In Harper V.D. & Thompson A.R. (Eds.) Qualitative methods in mental health and psychotherapy: A guide for students and practitioners, (pp. 209–223). Chichester: Wiley,10.1002/9781119973249.ch15Search in Google Scholar

Katic, E. K. (2009). The living canvas: Bodies that serve and simulate art. The American Journal of Semiotics 25 (1/2), 77–101.10.5840/ajs2009251/24Search in Google Scholar

Krause, R. (1972). Kreativität. Untersuchungen zu einem problematischen Konzept [Creativity. Examinations on a problematic concept.] München: Wilhelm Goldmann Verlag.Search in Google Scholar

Leimgruber, W. (2005). Die visuelle Darstellung des menschlichen Körpers. Gesellschaftliche Aus- und Eingrenzungen in der Fotografie In Haibl H. & Gerndt, M. (Eds.) Der Bilderalltag. Perspektiven einer volkskundlichen Bildwissenschaft, (pp. 213–232). [The visual presentation of the human body. Social boundaries of photography. In Pictures everyday. Perspectives of an ethnological picture science]. Münster: Waxmann.Search in Google Scholar

Liebelt, C. (2016): Grooming Istanbul: Intimate Encounters and Concerns in Turkish Beauty Salons. Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies 12(2): 181–202.10.1215/15525864-3507628Search in Google Scholar

Matike, E. M., Ngole, V.E., Mpako M.P. & Ekosse G. I. (2011). Ceremonial usage of clays for body painting according to traditional Xhosa culture. Indilinga African Journal of Indigenous Knowledge System 10 (2), 235–244.Search in Google Scholar

McMenamin, P. G. (2008). Body painting as a tool in clinical anatomy teaching. Anatomical Sciences Education 1 (4), 139–144.10.1002/ase.32Search in Google Scholar

Morphy, H. (2011). Moving the body painting into the art gallery - knowing about and appreciating works of Aboriginal art. Journal of Art Historiography 4, 1–20.Search in Google Scholar

Mundt, C. (2009). Neurobiologische Aspekte kreativer Therapie. In Hampe, R., Martius, P., Ritschl, D., von Spreti F. & Stadler, P.B. (Eds.), KunstReiz. Neurobiologische Aspekte künstlerischer Therapien, (pp. 91–104) [Neurobiological aspects of creative Therapy. In: Art appeal. Neurobiological aspects in art therapy]. Berlin: Frank & Timme.Search in Google Scholar

Nanjundaiah, K. & Sheshgiri C. (2012). Body-Painting: A tool which can be used to teach surface anatomy. Journal of Clinical & Diagnostic Research 6 (8), 1405–1408.10.7860/JCDR/2012/4700.2370Search in Google Scholar

Op de Akker, J.W., A. Bohnen, W.J. Oudegeest & B. Hillen (2002). Giving color to a new curriculum: Bodypaint as a tool in medical education. Clinical Anatomy 15 (5): 356–362.Search in Google Scholar

Park, J. (2015). A Study on body painting according to physical types. Journal of Fashion Business 19 (5), 175–187.10.12940/jfb.2015.19.5.175Search in Google Scholar

Pike, K. L. (2015 [1954]). Language in relation to a unified theory of the structure of human behavior. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.Search in Google Scholar

Riquelme, I. H., M. Samar & P. Montoya (2018). Reduction of pain sensitivity after soma-tosensory therapy in children with autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 46, 1731–1740.10.1007/s10802-017-0390-6Search in Google Scholar

Roach-Higgins, M.E. & J. B. Eicher (1992). Dress and identity. Clothing and Textiles Research Journal 10 (4), 1–8.10.1177/0887302X9201000401Search in Google Scholar

Rogers, C. (1951). Client-centered therapy. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.Search in Google Scholar

Scheiper, P. (2008). Textile Metamorphosen als Ausdruck gesellschaftlichen Wandels [Textile metamorphoses as expression of social change]. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften.Search in Google Scholar

Schmidt, B. (1999). What sense do the senses make? Aspects of corporeality in the works of Miriam Cahn and Maureen Connor. In A. Jones & A. Stephenson, (Eds.) Performing the Body. Performing the Text, (pp. 283–293). New York: Routledge.Search in Google Scholar

Schönhuth, M. (2005). Vademecum durch den Kulturdschungel [Vademecum through the cultural jungle]. Eschborm: GTZ.Search in Google Scholar

Schuster, M. (2015). Alltagskreativität [Everyday Creativity]. Wiesbaden: Springer.Search in Google Scholar

Shukla, P. (2008). The Grace of four moons. Dress, adornment, and the art of the body in modern India. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Solomon, M. R. & J. Schopler (1982). Self-consciousness and clothing. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 8 (3), 508–514.10.1177/0146167282083018Search in Google Scholar

Von Matuschka, M. (1999). Bodypainting. Fantastische Gesichter [Bodypainting: Phantastic faces]. Ravensburg: Ravensburger Verlag.Search in Google Scholar

Weiss, M. (2010). Was ist ‘inszenierte Fotografie‘? Eine Begriffsbestimmung [What is „staged photography“? A definition. In The photographic reality. Staging. Fiction. Narration]. In Blunk L. (Ed.) Die Fotografische Wirklichkeit. Inszenierung. Fiktion. Narration. (pp. 37–52). Bielefeld: Transcript.Search in Google Scholar

Young, J. O. (2019). Cultural appropriation and the arts. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons.Search in Google Scholar

Recommended articles from Trend MD

Plan your remote conference with Sciendo