By Chris Gilleard, Paul Higgs

This booklet investigates the emergence of a 'new getting old' and its realisation in the course of the physique. The paintings explores new kinds of embodiment interested in identification and care of the self, that have obvious the physique turn into a website for growing old another way - for growing old with out changing into old.

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Example text

At the outset, of course, there were uncertainties and irregularities, confusions and contestations over the exact chronological parameters of agedness (Roebuck 1979). The majority of the inhabitants of Western societies only acquired an accurate knowledge of their own chronological age during the course of the nineteenth century. Evidence from premodern and early modern censuses – such as the fifteenth-century Tuscan catastas (Herlihy and Klapisch-Zuber 1985), seventeenth-century Russian 24 Ageing, Corporeality and Embodiment urban censuses (Kaiser and Engel 1993) and nineteenth- and early–twentiethcenturies colonial censuses (Alborn 1999) demonstrated a phenomenon known as ‘age clustering’.

The personal and social importance of ageing rests upon the changing status of the body and the implications that this has for identity, life chances and lifestyles. It is the body that seems to house selfhood and define individuality. Bodily ageing seems to efface the very site where the self is constructed under conditions of youth, fitness and potential, replacing it with the corporeal marks of decline and defeat. While population ageing, ageing as ‘risk’ or ‘vulnerability’ and ageing as status change are important academic preoccupations, it is the ageing of bodies that remains the ineradicable concern of persons, confronting, in their own ageing body, the essential transience of their lives.

In their work on the ‘mask of ageing’, Featherstone and Hepworth (1991) considered how individuals deal with the contradiction between the social discourse of ageing as decline and their own sense of possessing a non-aged identity. The mask of 18 Ageing, Corporeality and Embodiment ageing is seen as a surface phenomenon of the body that projects an image at variance with how the person feels ‘inside’. This approach – which echoes Goffman’s work on stigma – has had considerable influence among gerontologists as they have seen it as a way of locating the oppressiveness of ageism, while at the same time accepting that many older people feel constrained by the images of ageing and its embodiment (Tulle-Winton 1999; Andrews 1999).

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