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Steele, Lisa
Birthday Suit – with Scars and Defects
1971

Over approximately thirteen minutes, the artist chronologically traces every scar and defect acquired over the twenty-seven years of her life. Accompanying the slow, repetitive, extreme close-up shots is a narration recalling the date, location and cause of each mark. The artist’s direct address to the camera and refusal of the conditioned patriarchal ways of looking, restores agency to the feminine nude. Steele’s record-keeping through flesh memory transforms her scars and defects into embodied souvenirs of her lived experiences, encapsulating the notion that the “personal is political.”

 
Steele, Lisa
born Kansas City, Missouri 1947
Birthday Suit – with Scars and Defects
1971
black and white video recording on 3/4" u-matic tape with sound
13 min. 20 sec. (total duration)
Purchase, Olympic project funding, 1976
19-090

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