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The body as fiction

Post doctoral study on corporal anthropology and carried out in the form of a website

The first page of the website Opus Corpus, whose development had financial support from FAPESP, opens with the image of an egg surrounded by golden hair. With a click of the mouse on the image, the eggshell breaks and Renaissance man appears in all of his glory. “I wanted to begin with a human egg”, says Stéphane Malysse, the researcher who built the site during hispost-doctoral study into multimedia and the arts at the Arts Institute of the State University of Campinas (Unicamp). “In the end I thought that a chicken’s egg in a nest made of human blond hair would awaken more curiosity. At the same time, it would be a metaphor on the vision of the body as cultural fiction.”

The idea of carrying out post doctoral work whose result would be linked to a website gave incentive to Malysse to go even further, interlinking bibliographic references with the research itself, searching for sounds and images in order to pass on his idea. “With the Internet it had become easy to write with images”, says the researcher. As all of the work is based on visual anthropology of the body, the result is a kaleidoscopic collage of texts, sounds and images.

In order to set up this visual puzzle, Malysse made use of the concepts of the French philosopher Gaston Bachelard. “Love is the first scientific hypothesis to explain the objective reproduction of fire and, before becoming the child of the forest, fire is the child of man”, Bachelard wrote in one of the site’s sections entitled “fire”. “Entering into the Opus Corpus appears the Corpus World, the world seen as a multitude of body tropics, with the proliferation of anthropological representations of the body.”

Malysse’s contact with visual and corporal anthropology began in his country of origin, namely France, where he studied the corporal hygiene of the middle class of Paris. “It was there that I understood that the anthropology of the body and visual anthropology had been intimately linked, since the body was lived as an image, as a projection.” This was the starting point for him to begin collecting images, texts and references about the question. Back in Brazil, Malysse studied the culture of the gyms in Rio de Janeiro. And the result of these years of research can be found on the website Opus Corpus. “The relationship between body, art and science is infinite. The raw material of art down through the centuries, the body has also turned itself a privileged focal point for studying different cultures”, the researcher concludes.

The project data bank of knowledge concerning the body (nº 01/09090-5); Modality Post Doctoral Scholarship; Supervisor Etienne Samain – Arts Institute/Unicamp; Grant holder Stéphane Malysse – Arts Institute/Unicamp