Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Intercollegiate Media Studies

Reader 1

James Morrison

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© 2023 Lauren P Spencer


Beginning with Adolf Loos’s famous “Ornament and Crime” essay, I examine the progression, reception and impact of performances of the body using Amelia Jones’ framework for distinguishing body art from performance art. As Primitivist Modernism became popular in the West, racialized bodies garnered new attention as subjects of both inspiration and criticism. Through a critical exploration of Black artists, I determine that the use of bodily performances aided in the subversion of the gender, sexual, and racial discrimination perpetuated by Primitivist Modernism and continued into the 21st century. Starting with French icon Josephine Baker and concluding with American legend Janet Jackson, it is made apparent that we have simultaneously progressed and regressed in our perception of Black liberation, Black sexuality and the bodily autonomy of Black women.