The Aesthetics of Self Harm and Community Construction: A Resacralising of the Wound in a Virtual Milieu

7 October, 2014
4pm - 5pm

Research seminar hosted by the Department of Studies in Religion.


Speaker: Dr Zoe Alderton (Writing Hub, University of Sydney). On the eve of the publication of her monograph on New Zealand artist Collin McCahon The Spirit of Colin McCahon, (Cambridge Scholars Press, 2014), Dr Alderton takes thematics of blood and group sacrality evident in McCahon’s work and develops them in an entirely new direction. She writes,

“There is a great deal of research concerning self-harm behaviour in youths, but few sociological investigations of the manner in which community formation and identity may encourage, valorise, and sacralise this behaviour. Online communities provide a large amount of support for self-harmers, and can also be a place in which they retreat from negative social environment and express themselves in an authentic and meaningful manner. In this presentation, I will be exploring the case study of ‘soft grunge’ blogs on Tumblr and their very particular aesthetic representations of the self-harm process. Soft grunge is a contemporary aesthetic trend that focuses on motifs including vintage imagery, soft focus, pale flesh, flowers, and bruises. It combines the gentle with the grotesque, providing a space in which feminine-identifying teenagers can explore beauty within fresh wounds and broken skin.”


Location: Rogers Room, N397, Level 3, John Woolley Building, University of Sydney

Contact:Christopher Hartney

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