Both the body and the city have long provided inspiration for artists. If we are to look at Vitruvius, he authored ‘de Architectura’, covering every aspect of Roman architecture, from water supply to building materials. It also spoke of the sense of proportion and geometry that was required in a building, and Vitruvius described the human form as being the principal source of proportion among the classical orders of architecture. The ‘ideally proportioned’ body was later immortalised in pen and ink by Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Vitruvian Man’.
However, since these writings in 15BC, new ways of expressing the city as a body have transpired. In Manhattan’s Lower East Side ‘The city as a living body’ was used as a theme for a community art project, where the aim was to engage the broader community through painting murals and art demonstrations. The resulting piece of art showed
‘the brick wall peeling away to reveal living veins branching out and connecting us all to the pumping heart of the city.’
This has the idea of being connected to the city, as well as connecting different cultural groups within the community. We are part of the body that is created, even if that body no longer fits the perfect proportions that Vitruvius desired. The city has remodelled itself and has been reclaimed by those who inhabit it, even if this is simply by tattooing it with murals.
1. Groundswell. (2013). THE CITY AS A LIVING BODY. Available: http://www.groundswellmural.org/project/city-living-body. Last accessed 1st March 2015
2. Art Directory. Marcus Vitruvius Pollio. Available: http://www.vitruvius-pollio.com/. Last accessed 1st March 2015