2019 Program

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“gains”, “sets” and “reps” … (between body-building and body-language)

“gains”, “sets” and “reps” … (between body-building and body-language)

Isabella Hone-Saunders

Gallery 2
Opening 05.06.19 6-8pm
Artist Talks 27.06.19 6-7pm

This work began by examining the commonalities between ballet and bodybuilding. (And it became a dedication to my membership at Doherty’s gym, Brunswick.)

It is reasonable to view both as unsustainable practices, which desperately aim for what most would consider to be unattainable forms. Both require obsessive focus, sometimes, resulting in disproportionate muscle groups. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 1975 publication, ‘Body Shaping for Women’, outlined exercises to “empower” women.

This program became part of my common routine, five to six times per week for five weeks. I saw a personal trainer who translated Schwarzenegger’s program to a contemporary gym setting.

Observations of, and comparison to, peripheral bodies informed my understanding of my own strength, hierarchical position and how far I was willing to extend myself each session. Interrogating my relationship with discipline, and in that arriving at the gratification of physical punishment, was one challenge.

Another was finding verbal/written language and body/performed language to convey my experience in order to create a tangible/decipherable ‘result’ or artwork. As Kathy Acker asserts in‘Against Ordinary Language: The Language of The Body’,in this space there is a rejection of ‘ordinary’ or verbal language to allow space for a meditative practice based on counting, exerting and failing. What results is finding oneself without access to ready-formed language.

“gains”, “sets” and “reps” (between body-language and body-building), considers body-dysmorphia, body-idolisation, body-focus and body-worship.


Isabella Hone-Saunders is currently practicing as a curator, arts worker and artist in Narrm (so-called melbourne) on the unceded lands and water ways of the Boonwurrung and Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation.

Hone-Saunders’ artistic practice most often utilises movement, with the use of video as preferred medium, centering her body as a focal figure. She aims to explore ideas of body idealisation, physicality, identity and embodied readings and representations of gender constructs.

Her curatorial practice is concerned with accessibility, representation and shared social responsibility, while examining with criticality, the inclusivity of public art spaces. She aims to interrogate modes and implement methodologies of activism towards the pursuit of an ethical form of curation.


Isabella Hone-Saunders, “gains”, “sets” and “reps” … (between body-building and body-language), 2019 Photo Jessica Maurer

Isabella Hone-Saunders, “gains”, “sets” and “reps” … (between body-building and body-language), 2018 (stills)

Earlier Event: June 5
Ritual Everywhere But Nowhere