2 Min Lesezeit
Walter Herdeg, Photo: Albert Steiner, St. Moritz, 1933 © Marcel Herdeg
Advico-Delpire AG, Levi’s, 1973 © Advico Young & Rubicam AG

In advertising, human bodies are an attractive and popular motif. Especially where representations are produced for quick consumption, body images are oriented towards a supposed norm. Impaired bodies or bodies marked by illness, old, non-binary, queer or black bodies are very rarely shown. Body images therefore always function as cultural signs and cement power relations. The number of images of bodies in public and virtual space today exceeds any measure. Stereotypical ideal bodies dominate posters as an expression of a successful life. Does the poster (as a projection surface of everyday desires) prove to be particularly resistant to social change? Conversely, can subversive advertising images and artistic counter-designs expand and change the view of the body?

In the context of current debates about “gender” and “race”, about body optimisation and media self-dramatisation, the exhibition “Talking Bodies” at the Museum für Gestaltung Zurich from 3 November to 25 February 2024 questions the most diverse body images of our visual culture. International posters enter into a dialogue with commercials, objects of everyday culture, historical representations and positions of contemporary art. According to the museum, the aim is to make visible continuities and ruptures in the representation of the human body, to invite reflection on counter-designs to perfect bodies. It is about standardised bodies and standardised gender roles, about questionable role attributions and socially constructed characteristics of men and women as presented in mass media and popular culture. It is about sexualised women’s bodies versus strong men’s images, about the representation of the female body as an object of desire, about desirable images, visual taboos and stigmatisation. The exhibition sees itself as an experimental arrangement and snapshot of current debates and invites visitors to engage with the power of images. Interactive access and a wide range of educational offers are aimed in particular at a young audience.

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