The Body, Religion, and the Visual Arts
Edited by Barbara Baert
Introduction by James Elkins
How do we relate the body we have and the bodies we see to the mind, or to the soul? Fluid Flesh addresses the relationship between the body, religion, and the visual arts, which is one of both love and tension. Are we able (and allowed) to think of the divine in a corporeal way? Isn't artistic expression, which originated from both the human mind and body, intrinsically a bodily matter?
Featuring an introduction from James Elkins, Fluid Flesh covers an array of topics including the visual as a spiritual medium today; iconophilia and iconoclasm in the past and present; the human body, religion and contemporary lifestyles; and premodern and postmodern perspectives on anatomy and the visual arts. Several authors address the presentation of the human form in Christian art and ask whether the body may be present in religious art even without figuration. The authors highlight the intertwined and powerful roles of both the image and the body within a contemporary culture that has seemingly devalued language (in favor of the image) and has renewed a "sinful" conception of the body as in constant need of improvement.