THE PERCEPTION OF BEAUTY

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“I am human, and nothing of that which is human is alien to me.”

 /TERENCE, Roman playwright, around 170-160 BC/

On Saturday, 19th November at the legendary record shop, Rough Trade, we held our first event with an exhibition of Thinkover and Talha Iqbal. Together with such great musicians and bands, like Foreign AccentJasmin Issaka and The Damn Heavy, the night couldn’t be more amazing for the celebration of diversity and the human being.

Our project for this exhibition was to explore how art can transform and change the perception of beauty in the modern-day society.

BEAUTY

[noun] The quality of being pleasing, especially to look at, or someone or something that gives great pleasure, especially when you look at it. (http://dictionary.cambridge.org/)

[mass noun] A combination of qualities, such as shape, colour, or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight.(https://en.oxforddictionaries.com)

We have a negative perception of someone who doesn’t meet the “model” of beauty. But who defines these standards? We have the power to decide what is beautiful or not. But we often fail by prejudging someone because of her/his look.

The three paintings that Thinkover showcased are representing the diversity and are challenging the conventional meaning of beauty.

Photo: Tom Morley

CROSS-DRESSING

[noun] The act of wearing clothes usually worn by the opposite sex. (http://dictionary.cambridge.org/)

Cross-dressing has no straight connection with sexual orientation. Women can do it as often as men, however it is more likely the opposite.

It is not a new thing but still it disturbs us, because we don’t understand and it scares us because we don’t know anything about it.

Cross-dressing is a dramatic protest and a personal discovery of the other gender. Society tell us what is normal and what is not, create labels and divide people in “standard” categories – easy to be understood and managed.  However, people who do cross-dressing cannot be labelled because they do not stick to the gender they happened to be born in. They are exploring the sensation and the beauty of being the other gender, finding their own wished personality.

Photo: Tom Morley
Photo: Tom Morley

NIKE

In Greek Mythology: The goddess of victory.

In art history, the sculpture Nike of Samothrace is considered to be one of the most beautiful artwork at all times. Its violent motion, dramatic expression and graceful triumph, together with its imperfectness (the head and the arms are missing) is a beautiful allegory and message: anyone can be Nike. Anyone, independently from origin, ethnicity, sexual orientation or religious belief. Its motion against the wind can represent our fight against the norms of the society to be accepted, to be heard, to be considered beautiful.

VITILIGO

[mass noun] A condition in which the pigment is lost from areas of the skin, causing whitish patches, often with no clear cause. (https://en.oxforddictionaries.com)

Vitiligo is caused by the lack of melanocytes, a cell that gives the skin colour. It is not contagious and can affect anyone, independently from skin colour, age or ethnicity. It affects around 2% of the population. People with vitiligo often suffer from discrimination, unwanted attention and it can be psychologically devastating.

We judge by look.

Buba has vitiligo. His skin slowly loses the pigments as time passes. We see him on the street and notice that he is different. We may feel uncomfortable because of his look; we don’t know about vitiligo and we might be afraid of it.

The T-shirt is a black canvas painted with white colour that becomes an artwork. It has the same details, the same look and the same size as the vitiligo. With one difference: it is on a different surface.

By changing our focus from one material (skin) to another (T-shirt), we change our perception of vitiligo. We judge differently depending on the surface.

Photo: Talha Iqbal
Photo: Talha Iqbal

FEMINISM

[mass noun] The advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes. (https://en.oxforddictionaries.com)

When asked about what feminism means to her, Elena responded, “I don’t believe in gender roles or norms. My feminism calls for a radical reconstruction of society, where male supremacy is eliminated in all social and economic contexts. It is much more than just giving rights to women.”

Currently, Elena is doing her PHD in Critical Theory, fighting for animal rights, writing about extreme music, working as an academic support worker for students with disabilities and teaching at the University of Nottingham.

Photo: Talha Iqbal
Photo: Talha Iqbal

Event photos from Tom Morley

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