A reading of Matthew Barney’s Hypertrophy

«The knowledge of our body is the result of a continuous effort […] The development is guided by experience, trial and error, effort and attempt. Only in such a way we can gain the organized knowledge of our body.» (Paul Schilder, The image and appearance of the human body [1])

Based on a previous study of three images taken from the volume Exercise physiology: energy, nutrition and human performance edited by William McArdle and Frank & Victor Katch and first published in 1981, Barney’s Hypertrophy constitutes an attempt to establish a theoretical foundation for the principle of resistance and for the notion of development through exertion and decay. [2] This «medical» assessment of his early self-directed artistic exercises suggests a mutual influence between bodily enhancement and environmental constraints.

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