Academic journal article Journal of Aesthetics and Culture

The Arena of Thanatos: Psuche', Soma, and Sigalit Landau's Body Representation* a Comparative Study

Academic journal article Journal of Aesthetics and Culture

The Arena of Thanatos: Psuche', Soma, and Sigalit Landau's Body Representation* a Comparative Study

Article excerpt

Copyright: ©2015 N. S. Sadeh. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, allowing third parties to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format and to remix, transform, and build upon the material for any purpose, even commercially, provided the original work is properly cited and states its license.

Published: 15 June 2015

*Correspondence to: Nava Sevilla Sadeh, Department of Art History, Yolanda and David Katz Faculty of the Arts, Tel-Aviv University, 69978 Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel. Email:

The present study of Sigalit Landau's body representation is comparative and based upon the presupposition that the body is a kind of political arena, common both to Landau's artistic work and the Greek Archaic and Classical visualization and conceptualization of the body in the sixth and fifth centuries BCE. This comparative approach is also supported by the characterization of Landau as an artist associated with historical, mythological, social, and political awareness.1 Landau herself has defined her art as mediation:

My work is about building bridges. [Un] consciously looking for new and vital materials to connect the past to the future, the west to the east, the private with the collective, the sub-existential to the Uber-profound, found objects to the deepest epic narratives and mythologies ... using scattered, broken words to define bric-a-brac and transform it into a soft heap of new dream-buds, to act beyond the uncertain horizon.2

The approach underlying this study is that of the discipline of Classical Reception Studies, a field that researches the features and implications of Classical concepts in contemporary culture. Noteworthy is the definition of reception by Lorna Hardwick and Christopher Stray: "by 'reception' we mean the ways in which Greek and Roman material has been transmitted, translated, excerpted, interpreted, rewritten, re-imaged and represented. These are complex activities in which each reception 'event' is also part of wider processes."3 Nonetheless, and constitutive to this research, Classical reception can also be contradictory, subversive, and antagonistic, as noted by Neville Morley: "However, part of the history of this reception is the history of disputes over the use and abuse of antiquity [...]"4 ; and--"[...] The possibility exists, if a correct methodology is chosen, of establishing an objective account of the past with which modern society can be compared and against which it can be evaluated."5 Referring to Hegel, Morley stresses the view whereby the examination of the past is actually a concern with the present.6 Citing Nietzsche and Marx, he stresses the uses of the Classics in order to criticize modern culture and exemplify its deficiencies and sickness.7 In the field of art, and in relation to Landau's work, this suggests Fredric Jameson's comment that a good parodist has to have some secret sympathy for the original.8 As will be shown, the Classical sources that conspicuously embody Landau's works will both underlie and constitute as a wellspring for this analysis, although the findings will eventually be anti-Classical. The discipline of Classical reception studies is employed here as a methodology and a comparative strategy in order to reflect a contemporary phenomenon, and to contribute to an in-depth interpretation of the contemporary works analysed, employing textual sources and ancient visual images. The following discussion focusses on Landau's papier-mâché figures that dominated the installation "The Country" (Figures 1-4),9 as typical of her perception of the body.10

Fig 1

[Figure omitted, see PDF]

Figure 1. The Country, The Picker, 2002, metal armature, papier-maché, and other mixed media, 174×54×95 cm. …

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