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08 APRIL 2011

The Aesthetic Movement: Art for Arts Sake

Exhibition: The Cult of Beauty: The Aesthetic Movement is at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London SW7 from 2 April to 17 July 2011.

"The movement started in a small way in the 1860s in the studios and houses of a radical group of artists and designers, including William Morris and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. These were angry young reformers who explored new ways of living in defiance of the horrendous design standards of the age as revealed in the 1851 Great Exhibition.

Over the next two decades aestheticism burgeoned, drawing in architects and craftworkers, poets, critics and philosophers to create a movement dedicated to pure beauty. The aesthetic movement stood in stark and sometimes shocking contrast to the crass materialism of Britain in the 19th century. "Art for art's sake" was its battle cry, a slogan that originated with the French poet Théophile Gautier."

(Fiona MacCarthy, 26 March 2011, The Guardian)

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1860s187719th centuryAesthetic Movementaestheticisationaestheticism • Albert Moore • angular aesthetic • architecture • art fabrics • art for arts sake • art furniture • art historyart movement • Arthur Liberty • Aubrey Beardsley • beautyceramic tile • Christopher Dresser • colour • Cult of Beauty (exhibition) • Dante RossettiDe Stijldecadencedecordecorationdecorative artsdepartment stores • design standards • eclectic mixEdward Burne-Jones • Edward William Godwin • excessexhibitionexoticfine art • Frederic Leighton • Frederick Leyland • frieze • furniture design • George Du Maurier • George Frederic Watts • Gerrit Rietveld • Green Dining Room (1865) • Grosvenor Gallery • interior decorationinterior designJames McNeill Whistler • Japonism • Kate Vaughan • Libertys (department store) • lifestyleLondon • Maurice Maeterlinck • Oscar Wildeoutlandish • painted panels • Patience (1881)peacockperformance art • provincial towns • Punch (cartoon) • pure beauty • Queen Anne style • radical art movement • sensuality • shabby chic • silliness • South Kensington Museum • spectacularstained glass • tenebrous house • The Great Exhibition (1851)The Guardian • Theophile Gautier • turquoise • Victoria and Albert MuseumVictorian artvisual style • Walter Crane • Walter Pater • western art • Whistlers Peacock Room • William Morris

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
24 FEBRUARY 2010

Iranian popular theatrical forms through the lens of Mikhail Bakhtin's concept of carnival

"[Mikhail] Bakhtin's concept of carnival as a subversive, disruptive world–upside–down event in which the repressive views, lies, and hypocrisy of the officially run and dominated everyday world are unmasked provides a powerful theoretical concept for any study of Iranian popular theatrical and related musical forms. Bakhtin was concerned with polyvocality and the fact that from the onset of the European Renaissance the voices of the common people were increasingly not heard. The Islamic Republic's ban on the performance of improvisational comic theater would seem to support this theoretical stance with empirical evidence of official reaction. In the European context analyzed by Bakhtin, a writer, exemplified by Rabelais, enacts an important role because he or she reflects the voices of the low, the peasant, the outcast. In Bakhtin's view, the healthy voice of the low, which questions the high–the church and the state–is an important check on oppressive officials in a healthy society.

A full–fledged carnival–such as those in Rio de Janeiro and New Orleans–does not exist in the Iranian culture sphere. By carnival I mean a massive demonstration of excessive eating, drinking, and sexual and bodily exposure, popularly associated with Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, that does not occur within an Islamic/Iranian context. Threads and themes of carnivalesque and grotesque subversion, however, can be found woven through the fabric of the Iranian world. Here the needle that pricks the official religious, social, and political powers most is the traditional comic theater in its many guises.

In many ways siyah–bazi and ru–howzi embody Bakhtin's notions of the grotesque and the carnivalesque. Gholam–siyah, the blackface clown, the 'low Other,' always wins over his master: the world upside down. Gholam–siyah's extravagant clothing, movements, speech, and lower–class language demonstrate Bakhtin's dictum, 'the grotesque...cannot be separated from folk humor and carnival spirit' (Stallybrass and White 1986, 43). Gholam's bright red costume and conical hat, for example, are probably the closest thing to carnival costume in the entire Middle East. William O. Beeman, a scholar of Iranian linguistics, discusses the blackface clown: 'The clown distorts normal physical movement by jumping, running, flailing his arms, and twisting his body into odd shapes' (1981, 515). This is, of course, part of his repertoire, for sight gags make up much of the comedy of traditional comic theater. This grotesque twisting of the body is also part of the dancing that occurs in the comic theater, especially by the male characters."

(Mass Mediations)

TAGS

Aranyer Din Ratri • Beverley Minster • burlesquecarnivalcarnivalesqueceremonychaosclowncollaborationcomedy • comic theatre • costumedemonstrationdialogicdisruption • Dostoevskys Poetics • emancipationetiquetteEuropean Renaissanceeventexcessextravagance • Feast of Fools • Feast of the Circumcision • Francois Rabelais • Fyodor Dostoyevsky • Gholam-siyah • grotesquehegemonyhumourimprovisationIran • Islamic Republic of Iran • juxtaposition • Lent • Lincoln Cathedral • Mardi Gras • medieval festival • Middle EastMikhail Bakhtin • New Orleans • outcastparticipationpeasant • Pieter Bruegel • polyphony • polyvocal • protestreligionRio de Janeiroriotritual • ru-howzi • sacred • siyah-bazi • social changesocial constructionismsocial hierarchiessocial interactionsocietyspectaclesubversiontheatretraditiontransformationtransgressionunmasked • Wise Children • world-upside-down

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
25 NOVEMBER 2008

Liquid Sky: pleasure-seeking alien lands in downtown New York and gets caught up in a world of casual sex and heroin abuse

"A time–capsule cult movie from 1982: A pleasure–seeking alien lands in downtown New York and gets caught up in a world of casual sex and heroin abuse (the title itself is slang for 'heroin') by insinuating itself into the lives androgynous hipsters Margaret and Larry (both played by Anne Carlisle). Curiously cool, with plenty of early '80s fashion, a vivid colour scheme and a weird, pulsing electronic score.
Dir Slava Tsukerman US 1982, 112 mins, cert 18"

(Institute of Contemporary Arts, UK)

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1980s1982alienandrogyny • Anne Carlisle • art filmcasual sexcinemaclubbingconsumptioncoolcounterculture • crystal sceptre • cultdesigndesigner drugsdeviancedrug addiction • electro • electronic musicexcessfashionfashion modelfilmfuturistic • heroin abuse • Liquid Sky (1982) • make-upNew Yorkorgasmpsychedelicpunkrapesci-fiscience fictionspace shipspectaclesubculturesubversion • synth punk • synthesized musictransgression • Tsukerman • undergroundUSA

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
20 JUNE 2005

Genetic Engineering: self-reproductive manifestations of excess

"The child–mannequin–type figures of the sculpture 'Zygotic acceleration, biogenetic, de–sublimated libidinal model (enlarged x 1000),' 1995, are also removed from biological reality, and yet the body with its multiple girl heads, legs, and arms conveys the impression of a living creature. They are mutated organisms – fused together at their torsi; anus, vulva or penis replace nose, ears, or mouth – who seem to offer themselves sexually to the viewer. The theme of the work is, if one sticks to the title, cell reproduction and sexuality. A work that captures the self–reproductive manifestations of excessive, errant libido and reveals the obsessions of genetic engineering."

(The Kunsthaus Bregenz)

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1995anatomy • anus • biological • biological reality • bodyBritish artistcell • cell reproduction • Chapman • creaturedeliberately offensive • Dinos Chapman • errant libido • excessgenetic engineeringgrotesque • Jake Chapman • libidinallibidomannequinmouthmutate • mutated organism • nose • organismpenisposthumanreproduction • self-reproductive • sexualityshock arttorsitorsovulva • Zygotic Acceleration (1995)
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