Bodies like a landscape

Sahra Huby: Hey Körper?!

How do we represent our bodies? In children, there is a development from the so-called “headfooter” to the representation of one’s own body with the “correct” number of fingers and the choice of one’s own hair color. Images of bodies in children’s books and other media are characterized by the anatomically “correct” view of people – an approach that does not change significantly until adulthood. This is where Sahra Huby comes in with her choreography project Hey Körper?! and questions this standardized representation of the human body. In collaboration with the young audience, dance opens up a new perspective on children’s self-perception. This journal article provides an insight into the idea behind the pop-up and the work with the children on site.

Sahra Huby | November 27, 2023

Representations of the human body

“A few years ago, I started researching representations of the human body and the question of how our bodies are represented. What and how do we learn about our bodies and how does what we learn and see about body images influence the way we perceive our bodies? When we think of the word “body”, a similar image comes to mind for many, namely a picture of a white, athletic cis-human from an anatomy book.”

“Our bodies are so much more than that: human bodies are different, diverse, transient, changeable, blurred, complex, interdependent, intangible and therefore, in my eyes, cannot be reduced to a rigid concept. As a dancer and researcher, I have used my physical experience to explore and expand these concepts and have developed other approaches to looking at and representing the human body. To do this, I have drawn a lot and created new images and maps.”

“What would the body look like if you looked at it as a landscape, as architecture or as a weather system? The body is also a piece of flesh, a musical instrument, a composition of geometric shapes, a hotel for many micro-organisms…

From this work, I have created a website where you can see all the maps and drawings, as well as explore the body yourself! In the chapter “Your body” there are tasks and exercises to do yourself.

The results are collected in an archive on the website, with drawings and texts from many people, adults and children, who have very different perceptions and experiences of the body.”

Hey Körper?!”

“The piece Hey Körper?! arose from my desire to share this research and my thoughts with young people and children. I translated my approach into the language of dance, text, video and music and brought it directly into the classroom, in a kind of special anatomy lesson.

On 08.11.2023 there was a performance at the Museum for Casts of Classical Sculptures in Munich for school children from Munich. After the play, half of the class took part in an interview, the other half did a drawing exercise from “The Atlas Project” website.”

Score: “Non-human body”

The children who took part in the workshop were given the following four questions and tasks. A selection of the results can be found below.

Which part of your body feels most like an animal? Which animal is it?

Which part of your body feels most like an object? Which object is it?

Which part of your body feels most like a color? What color is it?

Which part of your body feels most like a landscape? Which landscape is it?

After you have answered the 4 questions, try to draw this non-human body.