Saturday, April 3, 2004

Revealing bodies

Bodies in Formation

As the body is considered to be our most reliable, continuous and comprehensive metaphor for life and its meaning, multiplied bodies in mass gymnastics display are in the same way metaphor for desired society and its leadership. The ritual of the display of strong, young, beautiful and disciplined bodies offer an attractive reading of a society as whole and consequently legitimized the leadership as a promoter or creator of such a society. Since its origins in the early 19th century, the symbolic potential of coordinated movements of thousands of trainees has been exploited by various movements and regimes, varying from the extreme right to the extreme left. The purpose of this exhibition is to explore how this symbolic potential was confronted with and transformed by the communist ideology in mass gymnastic rituals all over Eastern Europe. It will study how the key concepts that the mass gymnastic performances offered - strength, youth, beauty and discipline - were transformed into symbols of a strong, young, beautiful and disciplined socialist society, and how this was used to legitimize the leadership, which observed these rituals from the tribunes of stadiums.

Wow. And the Spartakiad photos by Czech photographer Zdenek Lhotak are gorgeous.

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