What do we mean by ‘selves’? And what does it mean to substitute or perform them? Each with a different relationship to the body, the artworks in this room explore questions like these. 

In the world around us, bodies are often too easily categorised according to social constructs of age, class, gender, race, sexuality, and many other markers of identity. The body in art can expose or question these constructs and their related power structures. Some of the artworks here engage with these ideas by challenging stereotypes. Others undo the notion that identity is singular and stable and therefore easily determined. 

Elsewhere in this room, artists document the boundaries and limitations of our bodies. These include explorations of physical and mental endurance, the use of subcultural or countercultural practices, and the role of ritual and customs in our lives. 

In some artworks, artists use the body as a medium through which to represent a particular identity; either their own – combining the personal and the political – or one based on social constructs. In other instances, actual bodies are absent, and a body part stands in for the whole, or a sensuous material evokes a bodily presence. All the selves and stand-ins here relate to performance, theatricality, or staging. They prompt us to think about authenticity and the everyday performativity of identity. 

Event accessibility

Display accessibility

  • Wheelchair access



Gallery facilities

Detailed information on accessibility at the National Galleries of Scotland

Parking for visitors is available at both Modern One and Modern Two. A donation is requested of £3 for up to 4 hours and £6 for 4-8 hours. Our payment meters have contactless capability. There is free accessible parking for blue badge holders.

  • Information desk
  • Wifi
  • Wheelchair access
  • Accessible toilets
  • Changing places toilet
  • Wheelchairs available
  • Public toilets
  • Disabled parking
  • Lockers (£1/£2)
  • Baby changing facilities
  • Buggy park
  • Seating throughout
  • Bike rack
  • Parking
  • Café
Getting here

Getting here

The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art is located 15 minutes’ walk from Princes Street. It includes two buildings, Modern One and Modern Two, set in a beautiful sculpture park.

Venue map
73 & 75 Belford Road, Edinburgh, EH4 3DR

Conversations with the Collection

Conversations with the Collection

This is display is part of Conversations with the Collection, a changing programme of displays that offers visitors a brand new way to experience the national collection. 

A celebration of Scottish and international modern and contemporary art, the thematic displays place creativity and conversation at their core by considering how dialogue and exchange shape and reshape artistic process.

Our Friends

Our Friends

Friends of the Galleries get free unlimited entry to all exhibitions, and enjoy a wide range of exclusive benefits including early exhibition access, special events and 10% discount in our cafes.

What's on

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