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The myths of modern primitivism

Lodder, M. (2011) The myths of modern primitivism. European Journal of American Culture, 30 (2). pp. 99-111. ISSN 1758-9118

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1386/ejac.30.2.99_1


RE/Search Publications’ Modern Primitives (Vale and Juno 1989) changed countless lives, bringing what had been a localized and niche set of body modification practices, aesthetics and philosophies out of San Francisco to a global audience, dominating scholarly and popular discourse around body modification subculture for more than a decade afterwards. The voice of Fakir Musafar dominates the book. This article argues that modern primitives as Musafar defines them never really existed (and never could have existed) in the terms he suggests, and goes on to address an important sub-strand within Modern Primitives almost entirely ignored by critics and commentators, who have read the book as generally representative of the body modification culture as a whole. With specific reference to contributors such as infamous tattoo artist Don Ed Hardy who do not frame their practice in ‘primitive’ terms, the article concludes with a study of an alternative account presented by Vale and Juno’s book: body modification as artistic practice.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Arts and Communication Design > Art > Art History
ID Code:31753


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