Ownership and Resistance in Visual Culture

Capturing the Body explores artistic representations that turn to the body to uphold or question normative ideals about identity, power, and oppression in different societies. Taken from the Allen Memorial Art Museum’s collection, the seven exhibits that comprise Capturing the Body were curated by students in Visible Bodies and the Politics of Sexuality (CAST 202) taught by Professor Wendy Kozol at Oberlin College. Through a rich collection of media including collage, prints, photography, painting, sculptures, and assemblage, these exhibits consider a range of issues such as dehumanization, agency, vulnerability, fragmentation, and legibility. Visual representations grapple with questions of identity through images of suffering, depictions of classical ideals, and the examination of the body as a physical object, as well as point to uninterrogated assumptions about sight and mobility in artwork.

Capturing the Body examines artistic strategies that idealize, objectify, dehumanize, or individualize the body to provide insights into human experiences of vulnerability and empowerment. This diverse subject matter destabilizes conventional definitions of embodied identity as intact and singular to each individual. Instead, these exhibits ask, how do artists and subjects navigate the divergent politics of securing or destabilizing majoritarian ideals of identity? Moreover, Capturing the Body calls attention to the impacts on individuals when viewing images of people who appear similar to and different from themselves. How does this experience confirm or change perceptions of identity as it relates to humanity?