Body art is art made on, with, or consisting of, the human body. The most common forms of body art are tattoos and body piercings. Other types include scarification, branding, subdermal implants, scalpelling, shaping (for example tight-lacing of corsets), full body tattoo and body painting.
Body art is also a sub-category of performance art, in which artists use or abuse their own body to make their particular statements. More extreme body art can involve mutilation or pushing the body to its physical limits.
Body piercing, a form of body modification, is the practice of puncturing or cutting a part of the human body, creating an opening in which jewellery may be worn. The word piercing can refer to the act or practice of body piercing, or to an opening in the body created by this act or practice. Although the history of body piercing is obscured by popular misinformation and by a lack of scholarly reference, ample evidence exists to document that it has been practiced in various forms by both sexes since ancient times throughout the world.
Ear piercing and nose piercing have been particularly widespread and are well represented in historical records and among grave goods. The oldest mummified remains ever discovered were sporting earrings, attesting to the existence of the practice more than 5,000 years ago. Nose piercing is documented as far back as 1500 BC. Piercings of these types have been documented globally, while lip and tongue piercings were historically found in African and American tribal cultures. Nipple and genital piercing have also been practiced by various cultures, with nipple piercing dating back at least to Ancient Rome while genital piercing is described in Ancient India c. 320 to 550 CE. The history of navel piercing is less clear. The practice of body piercing has waxed and waned in Western culture, but it has experienced an increase of popularity since World War II, with sites other than the ears gaining subcultural popularity in the 1970s and spreading to mainstream in the 1990s.
Surface piercings are any body piercings that take place on the surface sewn into the body through areas which are not particularly concave or convex, where the piercing canal transverses a surface flap of skin, rather than running completely through a piece of body tissue from one side to another. A surface bar follows the plane of skin, while a standard piercing is pierced through the plane.
Sometimes surface piercings are difficult to heal, because, as the body rejects the body jewelry as a foreign object, the jewelry is pushed to the surface, causing the piercing to grow out (also called rejection). Proper placement and jewelry selection by an experienced body piercer can help alleviate this problem. A well done surface can last anywhere between 3 months, several years or indefinitely.
A corset piercing is a piercing that is pierced multiple times mostly side to side to look like a corset being laced up the body. Two rows of bilaterally symmetrical piercings are performed and can be composed of as few as four piercings (two in each row) or as many as the length of the area being pierced (usually the back) and the vertical space between piercings will allow space for. Due to the difficulty and risks associated with permanently healing single surface piercings, most corset piercings are intended to be temporary.
Temporary corset piercings are often performed for aesthetic reasons, often as part of a fetish event or photo shoot. A body piercer may also perform a corset piercing to promote his/her business, to be photographed for a portfolio or to be used for advertising purposes. They may also be performed as play piercings as part of BDSM activity. Often temporary corset piercings are worn laced with ribbon, rope, or chain.
A lip piercing is a type of body piercing that penetrates the lips or the area surrounding the lips, which can be pierced in a variety of ways.
Approximate healing times for most lip piercings are between 1 to 3 months, however there is a possibility of serious infections developing if the piercing is not taken care of. After healing is complete, other jewelry may be used. After this time, some scar tissue may be present, but the fistula is normally fully developed and mostly healed. Aftercare consists of hot saline soaks two to three times daily. Soaking the wound for three to five minutes with a weak saline solution softens any blood and lymph discharge attached to the jewelry. Afterwards, taking a hot shower and using clean hands and a small amount of a mild soap such as castile soap removes excess matter from the site. Turning or otherwise moving jewelry on a fresh piercing is not advised, as it can irritate and lengthen swelling and healing time. Diluted mouthwash or salt water solution can also be used after meals along with toothbrushing to help remove debris and flush the piercing and is recommended by practitioners.
The human body is the entire structure of a human organism and comprises a head, neck, torso, two arms and two legs. By the time the human reaches adulthood, the body consists of close to 100 trillion cells, the basic unit of life. These cells are organised biologically to eventually form the whole body.
Body modification (or body alteration, called body mutilation by detractors) is the deliberate altering of the human anatomy or phenotype. It is often done for aesthetics, sexual enhancement, rites of passage, religious beliefs, to display group membership or affiliation, to create body art, for shock value, and as self-expression, among other reasons. In its most broad definition it includes plastic surgery, socially acceptable decoration (e.g., common ear piercing in many societies), and religious rites of passage (e.g., circumcision in a number of cultures), as well as the modern primitive movement.
In contrast to the explicit ornaments, the following procedures are primarily not meant to be exposed per se, but rather function to augment another part of the body, like the skin in a subdermal implant.