Lisa Bufano and Aimee Mullins: disability and the aesthetic of non-human-like prostheses

Debates in Aesthetics 17 (2):15-36 (2022)
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Abstract

The essay aims to examine possible readings of disability in the context of visual art, especially regarding bodies prosthetised in unexpected ways. To do that, I will analyse two performances, participated/created by Lisa Bu- fano and Aimee Mullins, which employ prosthetics that distance them from the mimicry of human limbs. I will briefly contextualize them in the history of prosthetics. I will observe how their peculiarity and non-human forms can serve aesthetic and destabilizing purposes regarding the contours of disability. I will especially mention their potentiality regarding disabled bodies’ mobility in space and their relationship with tools. The association between a disabled body and non-human traits carries several symbolic meanings and might also produce risks. Generally, they can update the perspectives on the crafting of creative assemblages that start from impaired bodies. In conclusion, I will observe how Bufano’s art entails more promises on an ethico-political level.

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