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Writing on the BodyEnlarge image

Writing on the Body, 1988

Shelagh Keeley
Canadian, 1954
lithographic crayon, pastel, chalk, oil stick, pigment, wax, book pages, photocopies, gauze, and plaster on wood panels
349.5 x 180.4 x 4.6 cm each (approx.)
Purchased 1989
National Gallery of Canada (no. 30363.1-3)
© Shelagh Keeley

"Writing on the Body" was created for a 1988 installation in Tokyo. Keeley covered the walls of the gallery with a mixture of wax, Vaseline, and pigment, onto which she overlaid found images from sex and birth control manuals with a profusion of loosely drawn body parts and handwritten phrases. The mural’s tactile, luxuriant base recalls various body fluids, giving a visceral dimension to the work, while the collaged elements evoke forms of medical and social control often exercised over the female body. Drawing directly on the wall denies such modes of constraint; the architectural element creates a bound, confined space, which the fluidity and openness of Keeley’s sensual forms aim to defy.

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