Complexions / Reflections: Cosmetics, Adornment, Disfiguration

James Morris, stretching the skin on his face. Photograph. Wellcome Collection, London.


Date & time

Mon 03 Apr 2023, 9am – Tue 04 Apr 2023, 5pm


Sir Roland Wilson Building, 1.02 Conference Room

The ANU Centre for Art History and Art Theory, ANU School of Art and Design, in partnership with the ANU Humanities Research Centre, present

Complexions / Reflections: Cosmetics, Adornment, Disfiguration

Monday 3 April - Tues 4 April, 2023

Looking in a mirror is never a neutral act. This conference offers an opportunity to reflect on changing ideals of beauty through an examination of a range of visual, material, and medical representations of the manipulated human body. It will seek to debunk the myth that beauty is ‘natural’ by engaging with the many and varied attempts that have been made to change, augment, alter and transform the body. These manipulations range from the application of cosmetics to undergoing surgical procedures, from fantasies of corporeal boundlessness through to real, lived experiences of physical and psychological transformation. Topics for examination include: gendered and racialised ideals of beauty across cultures; face bleaching and other skin lightening cosmetics; queer identities, gender fluidity and gender modification; dressing up and performativity through jewellery; war; disability; dismemberment and mutilation; death and the body undone.


  • Professor Susan Sidlauskas (Rutgers)
  • Dr Erin Griffey (University of Auckland)
  • Dr Karin Selberg (UQ)
  • Dr Natasha Ruiz-Gómez (University of Essex)
  • Dr Tania Cleaves (née Woloshyn) (University of Warwick / University of Birmingham)
  • Dr Keren Hammerschlag (ANU)
  • Professor Anthea Callen (University of Nottingham and ANU)
  • Dr Michelle J. Smith (Monash University)
  • Dr Megan Rose (UNSW)
  • Ashley E. Remer (ANU)

For enquiries please contact Dr Keren Hammerschlag


Updated:  16 March 2023/Responsible Officer:  Head, Centre/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications