What is Body Art, and its consequence on society?

Art constitutes an essential part of human life. Human creativity contributes to the creation of various artistic works which serve as tool of self-expression of the artist, his or her ideas, vision and perception of the world. At the same time, along with traditional forms of arts, such as painting, music, sculpture, there were various forms of body art, which was often quite a provocative art because the public perception of various forms of body art was not always tolerant. In this respect, it is worth mentioning the attitude of Europeans to such forms of body art as tattoo a couple of hundreds of years ago, when tattoos were considered vulgar and absolutely unacceptable for representatives of European nobility, for instance. On the other hand, this form of art remained very popular in other cultures, for instance, among Native Americans. Anyway, in spite of the different attitude to body art in different cultures and different epochs, body art persist and is an essential part of human art and culture and, what is more, body art is a perfect tool to underline the individuality and uniqueness of human body.

Body art, being extremely diverse, has some forms which may be viewed as conservative or traditional, among which it is possible to name tattooing and piercing. As a rule, tattooing was originally used to show the status of an individual since tattoos had their unique meaning. In such a way, tattoos represented a kind of language which comprehensible to those who could understand the meaning of tattoos (Vergine, 2005). Consequently, tattoos could serve as markers of the social status of an individual. However, in the contemporary society, the role of tattoos has changed dramatically. Today, tattoos are used for decorative purposes (Groning, 2001). In other words, people want to emphasize their individuality and, hence, they decorate their body with tattoos. In some cases, people can cover their entire body with tattoos, though such cases are quite rare.


As for piercing, it is currently used for the same purposes as tattooing, but it is important to underline that contemporary piercing tends to differ from the traditional piercing because people tend to pierce parts of body, which have not been pierced in the past. For instance, traditionally, ears were mainly pierced, at least in western culture, but today, there are practically no limitations on piercing. In such a way, people use piercing to challenge the rigid social and cultural norms and emphasize their individuality.

At the same time, there are more exotic forms of body art, such as scarification. Scarification was traditionally used in various male initiation rituals to emphasize the masculinity and courage of males (Siebers, 2004). Today, scarification is rather a symbol of a strong will of an individual and his or her ability to afford physical pain for the sake of beauty as he or she perceives this concept.

Moreover, today, body art became closer to the visual art and it does not only emphasize individuality of human body, but rather uses human body as a subject of art (Jones, 2004). For instance, body painting mainly serves to show the beauty of human body, on which artist can create unique paintings which convey his or her own message to the audience.

Thus, in conclusion, it should be said that body art is very popular today and along with traditional forms, such as tattooing and piercing, there appear new forms such as body painting.

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