Touching the body: the living and the dead in osteoarchaeology and the performance art of Marina Abramovic

Sofaer, Joanna (2012) Touching the body: the living and the dead in osteoarchaeology and the performance art of Marina Abramovic. Norwegian Archaeological Review, 45, (2), 135-150. (doi:10.1080/00293652.2012.703686).


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Osteoarchaeology and arts practice are two disciplines that work with the human skeleton. In both cases, this interest arises from curiosity regarding the materiality of the body. In the process of coming to understand that materiality, both disciplines create relationships between living and dead bodies through touch. This paper examines the interaction between different kinds of bodies – the living and the dead, the fleshed and the skeletal – in osteoarchaeology and in the performance art of pioneering artist Marina Abramovic. The ways that osteoarchaeologists and performance artist engage and enrol the physicality of skeletal bodies present different kinds of possibilities and potentials for intercorporeal relationships than those arising between living bodies. Although osteoarchaeology is frequently understood as a branch of science, the intercorporeality created by touching the body in osteoarchaeological practice does not sit easily within conventional descriptions of scientific method. The performance art of Marina Abramovic offers a provocative challenge to conventional ways of thinking about the nature of osteoarchaeological practice by explicitly valuing the importance of touch as a way of understanding the human

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1080/00293652.2012.703686
ISSNs: 0029-3652 (print)
Keywords: osteoarchaeology, performance art, human body, touch
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
Divisions : University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Humanities > Archaeology
ePrint ID: 185409
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
8 August 2012Published
Date Deposited: 10 May 2011 13:31
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 13:38

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