Ballard and the Visual Arts

Rina Arya
Reading Ballard’s Crash and Hans Bellmer’s Dolls

20 Minutes


In this paper I want to look at the relationships between the female bodies in Crash, the dolls of the Surrealist sculptor, Hans Bellmer, and the sculptures of the Chapman brothers. I want to specifically focus on the role of the body part and its symbolic relationship to the rest of the body. My primary question is to determine whether the body parts are interchangeable or whether we can speak of an order to the arrangement of the body. I will explore this through the theories of fetishism, the uncanny and Kristeva’s notion of abjection.

The polymorphous arrangement of the bodies opens up ethical questions of identity and objectification. Is the hybrid body a metaphor for the psychic conflicts that occur in the novel? By way of conclusion I will examine the theme of gender and sexuality within the context of theories of the gaze and spectatorship.

Biographical note: My first degree was in the history of art and my doctorate is in theology and art history (at the University of Glasgow). I am now a senior lecturer at the University of Chester (I'm based in the Departments of Fine Art and Design).