James Lee, Andrea Baldwin, Heidi Henderson
Installation: 3D printed sculptures, video projection
The posture portraits project is an interdisciplinary project which examines how bodies have historically been created/made through scientific interventions and surveillance, while simultaneously engaging with the concept of inclusivity of all bodies including those traditionally seen as “Other”. To do so we trace the development of healthism – the reinforcement of certain norms that construct the “healthy” as moral and pure and the “unhealthy” as foreign and polluted – in the modern American university which dates back to the early 17th century, and its relationship to the U.S. eugenics movement in the late 19th to 20th century. We explore how these ideologies were mobilized in the service of creating new disciplining and surveillance technologies in higher education by examining the case of what is known as “the posture portraits.” These portraits, taken at colleges and universities across the nation during the 1920s-1960s, were used as a measurement of ability and of good posture, which at that time, was linked to intelligence, beauty, and what it meant to be “normal”.
Credits for student researchers and artists:
Lien Har ’23, Muhammad Bazeed Shahzad ’24, Tyler Silbey ’22, and Vanny Phai ’25