Andy Warhol: More than anything people just want stars.

andy warhol

Since the ancient years until today, in the capitalist societies, it is undoubtable the fact that stars play an important role in terms of society and the way it is structured. Celebrities have great influence upon people’s lives. They serve as role models in a society.

Furthermore, it is interesting to note that the modern meaning of the term celebrity, actually derives from the fall of gods and the rise of democratic governments and secular societies. The root of the word celebrity derives from the latin word celere from which the English word celerity derives meaning ‘swift’. The latin roots indicate a relationship in which a person is marked out as possessing singularity and a social structure in which the character of fame is fleeting.

Based on the latter it could be argued that stars, or celebrities could reflect the internal operation mechanism of a society. Moreover, they have the power to suggest and introduce new cultural norms and shape different perceptions of reality. In particular, the first celebrities who managed to establish new norms and considered themselves as descendants of Gods, were Alexander the Great and the Romans. These celebrities constituted the leading figures, the pedagogues of the ancient world.

In our era celebrities still retain the aforementioned qualities but they are expressed in different ways due to our democratic, capitalist regime. Additionally, the rise of celebrities in our western world is related to the decline in the organized religion. In particular, people feel the need to believe in something that has superior skills and powers. After religion, it is celebrities who have come to undertake this role in popular culture. A statement that confesses this divine power that stars have upon our lives, derives from John Lennon who in 1996 said that Beatles were ‘more popular than Jesus’. During that era, ill people believed that if they could but only touch Lennon, they could be cured immediately.

 

10th February 1964: Two excited girls in Beatles sweatshirts, amongst a crowd of fans in New York, welcoming the group as they arrive at the airport. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

Just Like Jesus and the emperors of the ancient world, celebrities not only have divine characteristics but they also have a human aspect that makes them appealing to the people. As Leo Bandy argues:” Alexander remains the earliest example of paradoxical fame in which the authority of a hero is yet a model for support of ordinary human nature’. When people see this social profile, they automatically feel that the celebrity is not a distant stranger, but rather a familiar person which deserves admiration and glory. This is one of the many reasons for the fact that people want stars in their life.

Furthermore, celebrities are the informal life coaches in our lives. Stars like Angelina Jolie, Bono, Elton John, Madonna, David Bowie etc. through the difficulties that they confronted in their lives they give courage to other people to go on. However, it is not only that…with the financial support, they help children from undeveloped countries with philanthropic activities and some of them have already built Institutions and Hospitals. An example to support this argument is Elton John, who established the Elton John AIDS FOUNDATION.

 

As a consequence of the aforementioned, I could not help but wonder…was Warhol right? Is it true what he said? That more than anything people just want stars? Is it true that they are important in terms of society? That they give us the sense of escapism and the aura of superiority? Of course it is…we see it everyday. But in the end of the day…what about us? Τhe commoners…(as Bowie said) Could we be heroes just for one day? Be the stars in our own lives?

B945H6 Andy Warhol, artist, portrait, himself, white background
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Women’s Body & Discipline Notions in the Consumerist Western World

Women's body notions in the consumerist western world

In modern life, it is common knowledge the fact that the female body within the consumer western world constitutes a multidimensional and important issue as far as the self- identity, social, historical, and political aspects are concerned. In particular, in a capitalist regime, a woman’s body is manipulated through disciplinary approaches which try to make it more useful, more multi-functional and more beautiful compared to the past.

Women in today’s world have to be beautiful, strong, intelligent, with developed skills and attitudes. They have to combine work, household chores, the raising of their children and be ‘sexy’ at the same time. That is why a ‘multi-functional body’ is demanded in our era.

 

vintage women's body

Furthermore, femininity is truly connected with the body. An example to support this argument is the Hollywood industry which supports the idea of ‘free-yourself’ through your body. In particular, Hollywood and the Media World have contributed to the construction of femininity through the celebrity idols, the cosmetic surgery programs they promote, like Nip Tuck, and series like Sex and the City. All these emphasize the importance of a ‘good’ body in a consumerist society, which is ready to be loved and appreciated by others.

Carrie Bradshaw bodynip tuck body standards

It is interesting to note that this ‘look good – feel good’ approach to life demonstrates the power that is given to the female body. For this reason, consumerism conveys the message that the more products the women buy, the more feminine, sexual and better their bodies will be. The body is, therefore, the tool for women to taste life and experience a brand new ‘hedonistic lifestyle’. The body of a woman can make her feel attractive, confident and she could be included in the category lifestyle of the ‘Martini people’.

According to the aforementioned, I could not help but wonder…has the patriarchal structure of the society that Christianity and others religions support really changed throughout the years? Or Consumerism and Neoliberalism still promote the male-dominated society by sexualising women through their bodies and making them feel accountable only when they accomplish what the advertisements say….?  The only thing that is unquestionable is that femininity which is expressed through the body constitutes a social construct….thus as Simone De Beauvoir once said: ‘ A woman’s body is her situation, not her destiny’.

This ‘destiny’ is defined by the people and their culture…but ultimately what is really worth to mention is that all the disciplinary approaches that have been detected through all of those years regarding the body, hide one of humanity’s greatest fears  — the fear of death. As a consequence, consumerism exploits the fear of growing old and makes people and particularly women feel that they will be more loved and live longer if they take care of their bodies by implementing certain advice that the mechanism of society gives to them.

Finally the Love Your Body syndrome (LYB) suggests that in today’s era, you go straight from the gym to the therapist’s couch to work on instilling the proper compulsory self body love. Thus, as you see, today the emphasis is given upon teaching the masses not what to think, but how to think’!

 

are you beach body ready

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British Library & October Gallery: Family Day-Festival of Maps

Festival of Maps

Since we live in an increasingly diverse society, the messages that the world conveys seem truly mixed. Teaching children to recognize the choices an artist or a designer makes in portraying a subject, helps them understand the concept that what they see maybe someone’s own interpretation of reality. That is why art education teaches students how to interpret, criticize and use visual information to interact with the world and how to make choices based on their new experience.

An example to support the above argument is an event that I was fortunate enough to be a part of it a couple of days ago. In particular, I assisted in managing an educational workshop which took place at the British Library and it was organised by the former in collaboration with October Gallery, a contemporary art gallery which has pioneered the development of the transavantgarde, the trans-cultural avant-garde. The artists featured in this gallery had created a project specially designed for the disabled children and their families. In particular, the children had to create little birds with pieces of paper and after that, they had to decorate them with various pieces of colourful paper and delicate gold leaves. Furthermore, they could also create their own stamps and fill them with black ink and then put them wherever they wanted on the world map, which was designed by our special artist named Georgie.

Have a quick look at what happened that day… It is so amazing what kids can create! Don’t you agree?

Festival of Maps

These art-making workshops of the British Library Family programme emphasized the importance of art in the development of the child. Thus, learning to create and appreciate visual aesthetics are essential to the growth of fine motor skills in young age. Furthermore for very young children, making art provides opportunities to further develop their vocabulary by learning new words for colours, shapes and actions. It also helps them making substantial decisions. In particular, according to a report by Americans for the arts, art education enhances problem-solving and critical thinking skills. That is to say that if they are exploring and thinking and experimenting and trying new ideas, then creativity has a greater chance to blossom.

Additionally, art education is essential when it comes to disabled children, it helps them develop their senses and it is also considered a part of expressive therapy. Thus, the aim is to create an inclusive society with vision, mission, and values and make the disabled kids feel more integrated into the ordinary world. Consequently, if we give them the opportunities to create, they will and they will do it really well and we will be both proud of them and ourselves!

 

Enjoy some photos that I took from the magical venue of the British Library that hosted the event!

Festival of Maps

Festival of Maps

 

 

 

 

 

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