For this public program, the New Museum invited a series of these artists to perform their respective crafts on willing visitors in the Window on Broadway. Through audience participation, Corporeal Crafts invited visitors to engage in an expanded lexicon of artistic practice encompassing the physical and sensual as well as the intellectual.
Nails & Design by Gee Gee & Co., Inc.
Astor Place Hairstylists
Middle Eastern Body Decoration
Body crafts such as razor haircuts, nail design, and
body painting are art forms that seldom make their
way into museums. The reasons for their exclusion are
many, the most common being that artistic endeavors
played out on the body are too vulgar or base to be
considered fine art. Nonetheless, these forms of body
adornment consist of deftly and artfully rendered
images and designs done on small and contoured
surfaces. Body artisans attend to minute details, carefully
tailoring the design to the living landscape,
creating a site-specificity of the decorative.
While the social significance of adornment has been
probed by feminists and cultural critics, the focus as
been on mostly the “beautyindustry” rather than
alternative body crafts. Constituting a visual language,
adornment signifies membership, status, and locale,
as well as a site of pleasure and self-identification.
Furthermore, the institutions that have evolvea around
the practice of body crafts, such as barbershops, nail
salons and beauty parlors often serve as community
centers where friends and strangers s are news and
anecdotes or debate politics. Some traditions of body
adornment are performed almost exclusively in the
domestic sphere, such as Yemeni body painting which
adorns the hands and legs of Yemeni women to mark
special occasions like weddings.