What is Body Mapping?

 Body mapping is  the  process  of  creating  artwork using  drawing,  painting  or  other  art-based  techniques  to  visually  represent  aspects  of  people’s  lives,  their  bodies  and  the world  they  live  in. Body  mapping  is  a  way of telling stories, much like totems that contain  symbols  with  different  meanings,  but whose significance can only be understood in relation to the creator’s overall story and experience.

Video above: Landscape of the Mind, Vivid Sydney 2017.


What is Body-Map Storytelling?

Body-map storytelling is primarily a data generating  research  method  used  to  tell  a story  that  visually  reflects  social,  political and  economic  processes,  as  well  as  individuals’  embodied  experiences  and  meanings  attributed  to  their  life  circumstances that  shape  who  they  have  become.  Body-map  storytelling  has  the  potential  to  connect  times  and  spaces  in  people’s  lives  that are otherwise seen as separate and distal in more traditional, linear accounts. The final outcome  of  the  body-map  storytelling  process  is  a  mapped  story  composed  of  3  elements:  a  testimonio  (a  brief  story  narrated in  the  first  person),  a  life-size  body  map, and  a  key  to  describe  each  visual  element found on the map. This  technique  can  also  help  stimulate dialogue  and  share  knowledge  with  general audiences given that the mapped story brings  research  participants’  stories  to  life through  combined  visual  and  oral  media. As  a  product,  mapped  stories  offer  a  creative  and  potentially  visually-compelling approach for knowledge translation and exchange.


BigAnxietyBodyMappingImage.jpg

Keeping the Body in Mind, 2016, The Black Dog Institute, Sydney, Australia. Created by young people who have experienced their first episode of psychosis

Origins

Body mapping originated in South Africa as an art-therapy method for women living with HIV/AIDS in 2002 (Devine, 2008; MacGregor, 2009; Weinand, 2006). The method evolved from the Memory Box Project designed by Jonathan Morgan, a clinical psychologist from the University of Cape Town, South Africa.
The Memory Box Project was a therapeutic way for women with HIV/AIDS to record their stories and provide a keepsake for their loved ones in a handmade memory box. Jane Solomon later adapted this technique to create body mapping reflecting on living with HIV/AIDS through a narrative process. Solomon (2002) developed the facilitation guide and has been training facilitators internationally since that time. Body mapping has since evolved as a research methodology but until this point, there has been no substantive literature to guide the creation and analysis of the rich visual and oral qualitative data that body maps, and body mapping, provide as products and processes, respectively.

Text above taken from Gastaldo, D., Magalhães, L., Carrasco, C., and Davy, C. (2012). Body-Map Storytelling as Research: Methodological considerations for telling the stories of undocumented workers through body mapping. Retrieved from Migration Health

Existing Literature

De Jager, A., Tewson, A., Ludlow, B., Boydell, K. (2016) Embodied Ways of Storying the Self: A Systematic
Review of Body-Mapping, FQS Vol.17(2): art.22

Devine, C. (2008) The moon, the stars, and a scar: Body mapping stories of women living with HIV/
AIDS. In Border crossings, 58-65. 

Gastaldo, D., Magalhães, L., Carrasco, C., and Davy, C. (2012). Body-Map Storytelling as Research: Methodological considerations for telling the stories of undocumented workers through body mapping. Retrieved from Migration Health

Gauntlett, D. & Holzwarth, P. (2006) Creative and visual methods for exploring identities. Visual Studies,
21(1), 82-91.

Solomon, J. (2002) Living with X: A body mapping journey in time of HIV and AIDS. Facilitator’s
Guide. Psychosocial Wellbeing Series. Johannesburg: REPSSI.

Wienand, A. (2006) An evaluation of body mapping as a potential HIV/AIDS educational tool. Centre for
Social Science Research, working paper 169, 1-32.

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