19 May 2011

Representing fat and the future

Look at this amazing picture!

It's from the cover of the May 2011 issue of Museums Journal, the magazine of the Museums Association. It's there to illustrate an article about how science museums should get more hip and goes to show that a picture of a fat person or object perks up any old thing.

It turns out that the object is a sculpture that was exhibited in the Museum for the History of Science's Steampunk exhibition. I'm not much of a Steampunk aficionado so I haven't dug very deeply into the site and haven't been able to find much information about it other than that its title is Cosmonaute and it was made by St├ęphane Halleux. There are more pictures on St├ęphane's site.

The magazine image is accompanied by the headline 'Brave New World,' which I like because it subverts the notion that obesity heralds the end of the world. I've documented previous artistic explorations of fat that I think have failed dismally, but this object is different. I love it, from its tiny and cute three-digit hands to its truncated feet and blank/wonderous expression. Its apparent inflatedness reminds me of the lovely Horniman Walrus, which is no bad thing. I like the way it appears to hover lightly, as though gravity is no longer relevant.

The sculpture's shape recalls friends and acquaintances who look a bit like this. It makes me think that fat activists should have tool belts, gauges, dials and protective headgear as we navigate and explore the outer reaches of culture and embodiment.


Anonymous said...

Love it!

Anonymous said...

For me this conjures up images of '2000 leagues under the sea'
I think it is beautiful!

Rebecca : )

Charlotte Cooper said...

...wading through the murky depths of fatphobia...