Date of Award
Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Visual Art
This thesis examines the intersections of bodybuilding and performance through a masculine lens. Much like theater, the body builder is activated by staging. In an investigation of its history and a sampling of its theories, we can challenge the hyper-masculine identity which is supported through the gym culture and gender constructs. The arena of the gym contains cues contributing to the artworks listed, and the icons of the gym itself are brought into the studio to transform not only the objects, but the actions themselves. The work challenges the ideals surrounding the superhero, godlike persona cultivated through media tropes. These tropes can be damaging to the fluidity of gender performance as well as the male body image. To diminish ones bodily functionality for the sake of standards made by a dysfunctional culture creates a disparity between its health an appearance. While the strategies problematize the masculine identity, they bring frontally the body as a method of making. The outward, physical struggle between the artist and the object is similar to the internalized struggle of performing male. The task is designed to push the performer to his limits. The performance is based in truth and can be described as theatrical realism.
Program Director's Department
Graduate School of Art
Helms, Michael A., "extraction from the essence of pure power" (2015). Graduate School of Art Theses. ETD 31. https://doi.org/10.7936/K7MG7MQ5.
Through this thesis, I have been exploring the ideas of the masculine construct and a strange understanding on the truth of the body. My career of weight lifting has encouraged the comparison of myself to others. Other males that were bigger and more muscular then me instigated insecurity in my own masculine identity. Through my performances, I explore my ideals of what it is to be a man. In doing so, I created an absurd spectacle of myself in my own arena with spot lights to glisten and shimmer. As I tried to accomplish my feats of strength, I never came out on top. My audience is confronted with the reality of pain and the failure of my body to continue to perform. This violent act of performing and destroying during my performances becomes a punishing ritual to prove myself. It provides a point of meditation and contemplation, calling into question the purpose of labor in a physical manifestation. Constructing an image of self alongside the ideas of the masculine creates a tenuous environment for me to interact with my props, although this performance extends beyond my studio into my everyday life and projects a call to action.
Permanent URL: https://doi.org/10.7936/K7MG7MQ5