Andrew Sparkes 12:45 - 13:45

Working 'it' out in the gym as an embodied performance space for ageing

| For me, and I suspect many others, the gym can be heaven (liberating), it can be hell (repressive), or somewhere in between at any given moment. The gym, as a territory may have fixed features but the landscape within it is not fixed and stable. Rather, it is a fluid, dynamic place where multiple bodies come into being in various combinations. The gym might best be described as an ‘assemblage’ that is composed of heterogeneous elements or objects that enter into relations with one another. These objects are not all of the same type. There are physical objects, happenings, and events in the gym but there are also regimes of signs, utterances, and so on. In this presentation I try to take you into the gym as a territory, a landscape, and assemblage inhabited by a complex and sensual mix of looking-glass bodies, dramaturgical bodies, phenomenological bodies, socio-semiotic bodies, and narrative bodies that simultaneously do age-specific gender and gendered-age. To accomplish this task, I draw upon selected age-autobiographical moments over a six-month period to explore my sensual experiences of intense pleasurable embodiment, burning shame, searing pain and liminality due to undiagnosed illness, and different imaginings instigated by my return to the gym with an altered body inhabited by Polymyalgia Rheumatica. In sharing these moments, I hope to stimulate discussion about men’s experiences as embodied, ageing subjects, and the part that certain masculinity scripts provided by our culture play in generating specific meanings about ‘growing old’ or ‘ageing well’ and how this can present challenges to identity construction in later life.

Seminar Presentation [click here]

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