Monday, 3 December 2012

OUGD501 // Lecture 7 // Celebrity Culture

Celebrity portraits in the Pictorialist tradition-  the period of the late 19th early 20th century
A style that imitated painting: soft focus, toning such as sepia, romantic/theatrical themes
The Bride (1869)

Mariana "She said I am aweary, aweary”. 1875
Sitters are often acting scenes from mythology or religious themes

Christina and her sister Marie were well known in society as beautiful, educated, and cultured women. Both sisters posed for famous Aesthetic artists like Whistler and Victorian artists such as Dante Gabriel Rossetti. 

English Poet Alfred Lord Tennyson.
Male celebrities of the day were given a different treatment photographically
The book represents his literary achievements
More solid, less ethereal

Invention of moving pictures
Louis Aimé Augustin Le Prince (born Metz 28 August 1841, vanished 16 September 1890) was an inventor who lived in Leeds who filmed moving pictures on Leeds Bridge in 1888

Louis and Auguste Lumière perfected the Cinématographe, an apparatus that took, printed, and projected film. They gave their first show of projected pictures to an audience in Paris in December 1895
“The Silent Era” in film- from that date up to 1927
The moving pictures, this was very important. Louis Le Prince was the inventor who lived in Leeds. The picture above is of Leeds bridge in 1888. 

A modern movie that was decided to be a silent movie, much like the olden days. 

Baker costumed for the Danse banane from the Folies Bergères production Un Vent de Folie in Paris in 1927
Her success coincides with the Art Deco movement which takes influence from African art
American of mixed descent but found fame in France as an exotic dancer, nicknamed the "Bronze Venus", the "Black Pearl", and the "Créole Goddess".
Also acted in films from 1927 onwards

Had a pet Cheetah which sometimes escaped into the orchestra pit.
a muse for contemporary authors, painters, designers, and sculptors including Langston Hughes, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Pablo Picasso, and Christian Dior.
Jewish husband and agreed to spy on the Nazis using her position / access to important people internationally
She helped mount a production in Marseille to give herself and her like-minded friends a reason for being there. She helped quite a lot of people who were in danger from the Nazis get visas and passports to leave France. Later in 1941, she and her entourage went to the French colonies in North Africa; the stated reason was Baker's health (since she really was recovering from another case of pneumonia) but the real reason was to continue helping the Resistance. From a base in Morocco, she made tours of Spain and pinned notes with the information she gathered inside her underwear (counting on her celebrity to avoid a strip search) 

Celebrities, Glamour, Live Music and Fashion.
Fashion Rocks is more than an event – we are a unique brand that transcends the worlds of fashion & music.
We are one of the most exciting combined fashion and music fundraising events ever, harnessing the powerful influences of fashion and music to raise money for charity.
Our unique eCommerce and retail concept FR by Fashion Rocks will dazzle and wow you. Boasting unique, contemporary and on trend ready to wear fashion from the most exciting designers, some well-known favourites and some unique new gen. FR is 'got to have' fashion for those who are inspired equally by the street, the stage and the catwalk.
We are Fashion Rocks.

Beyoncé Knowles has portrayed Baker on various accounts throughout her career. During the 2006 Fashion Rocks show, Knowles performed "Dejá Vu" in a revised version of the Danse banane costume. In Knowles's video for "Naughty Girl", she is seen dancing in a huge champagne glass á La Baker. In I Am... Yours: An Intimate Performance at Wynn Las Vegas, Beyonce lists Baker as an influence of a section of her live show.
Reclaiming of racial stereotyping/terms of abuse?

Golden age of Hollywood

Between 1927 and 1960
The Jazz Singer is the first feature-length motion picture with synchronized dialogue sequences
Mae McAvoy
Classical style of invisible editing where image and sound should not draw attention to themselves

“King of Hollywood” starred opposite many star actresses of the time in silent films and on stage
US army Air Corps during WWII  

Bette Davis

Known for willingness to play unlikeable characters
Mildred in Of Human Bondage (1934), and Regina Giddens in The Little Foxes (1941).
married a man who claimed he had never heard of her 

operated at 1451 Cahuenga Boulevard in Hollywood, California between October 3, 1942 and November 22, 1945 (Thanksgiving Day) as a club offering food, dancing and entertainment for servicemen, usually on their way overseas. Even though the majority of visitors were U.S servicemen, the Canteen was open to servicemen of allied countries as well as women in all branches of service. The serviceman's ticket for admission was his uniform and everything at the Canteen was free of charge.
Glamorous stars volunteered to wait on tables, cook in the kitchen and clean up. One of the highlights of a serviceman was to dance with one of the many female celebrities volunteering
She starred as herself in the movie about the canteen. at the Canteen

Marilyn Monroe

Actress, singer, 
Relationships with Arthur Miller and the Kennedys 
Iconic as a ‘sex symbol’
Her death freezes this status as her image will never disintegrate 
Andy Warhol - Pop Art
Her face becomes a mask as it is endlessly repeated in publicity, the news, 
The idea that there is a different woman underneath ie: Norma Jean Baker prevails
Circumstances of her death seem to confirm/not confirm this simultaneously as she becomes ‘myth’
Becomes immortailsed in art in the 60’s by Andy Warhol and others: Audrey Flack
Audrey Flack’s Marilyn (1977)

In the tradition of the 16th/17th Century Vanitas painting where objects in the image have symbollic meaning
Photorealism- airbrush

Elvis Presley

Warhol uses an image of him acting the classic American hero- the cowboy
Blurs our vision, reminds us that the image is all we can see
His home Graceland is a place of pilgrimage for fans, then a museum after his death

Warhol s work on celebrities looks at them as products of consumer culture like his cambells soup tins- celebrities are there to be consumed.
Hollywood seen as churning out stars= money
World of music and the visual collide- good looking, he’s an actor, he can dance he signs up for national service- he’s a superhero
Larger than life existence which seems to anticipate his early death cf Jackson

Factory churns out products
Collection of outsiders or subcultural characters whom he ‘makes’ into stars by filming, photographing and being ‘seen’ on the NY art scene in 19 62- 68. Parties drugs and sex.
Celebration of alternative/art/bohemian lifestyle which becomes rock and roll.
Opposite of clean cut image of Elvis
John F Kennedy

Celebrity politician- youth and good looks
Television speeches
Fashionable beautiful wife
Another one of Warhols subjects.

President Kennedy's last seconds traveling through Dealey Plaza were recorded on silent 8 mm film for the 26.6 seconds before, during, and immediately following the assassination. This famous film footage was taken by garment manufacturer and amateur cameraman Abraham Zapruder, in what became known as the Zapruder film. Frame enlargements from the Zapruder film were published by Life magazine shortly after the assassination. The footage was first shown publicly as a film at the trial of Clay Shaw in 1969, and on television in 1975. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, an arbitration panel ordered the US government to pay $615,384 per second of film to Zapruder's heirs for giving the film to the National Archives. The complete film, which lasts for 26 seconds, was valued at $16 million

Advent of Television

John Logie Baird's demonstration of televised moving images in 1926
“Golden age” begins in late 40’s and goes through 50’s and 60’s
Focus on drama as entertainment
Late 50’s early 60’s TV became commonplace in UK and US homes
This made:
Cinema viewing declines
Less channels
Less viewing hours

The Jacksons as a brand

Musicians /performers
1971 The Jackson 5 had an animated cartoon on TV
1976 they star in a comedy where they act as themselves

Michael becomes the star
Gets his own record deal etc.
Micheal Jackson

The changes in Michaels appearance are interpreted as reactions to the abuse he and his family suffered at the hands of their father.
He looks less like his father by reducing his African American features: nose, skin colour, afro hair etc.
He was the King of Pop


Material Girl 1985
Postmodern recycling of the Golden Era of Hollywood
Pastiche of Marilyn’s performance of Diamonds are a Girls Best Friend in Gentleman Prefer Blondes (1953)

Celebrities who change their look rather than looks.
Return to an age where a show of wealth is celebrated rather than seen in bad taste

Madonna makes herself iconic by recalling classic female icon.

Names female icons of hollywood
Refers to the fashion for ‘Voguing’ which was popular in gay clubs in New York at the time
Reinvents herself for every tour
Queen of Pop

If Bordo argues that Madonna is Postmodern the Gaga is Post Postmodern as she reinvents herself almost for every public appearance
.Fans argue over who is the most important 
Lobster references Surrealism/Dali
Fire outfit seems to trump Madonnas underwear as outerwear

Madonna Gaultier corset 1990 Blonde Ambition

What Does it mean?

A feminist statement: "If we don't stand up for our rights soon we're going to have as much rights as the meat on our bones. And I am not a piece of meat.”
Chef Fergus Henderson, author of Nose To Tail Eating and someone who is noted for his use of offal and all cuts of meat, sees a similar hypocrisy in attitudes to eating meat. "People often don't want meat to look like meat. They want to neatly wrapped in plastic from a supermarket." 

An anti fashion statement? Subverting the red dress award tradition
It doesn’t mean anything- shock
Jana Sterbak

Dr Richard Noble, head of art department, Goldsmiths College, University of London. "She appears to be referencing the Canadian artist Jana Sterbak, who exhibited a 'flesh dress' made of meat.
"It taps into the artistic tradition of the memento mori or the still life. The still life, after all, is a meditation on mortality and the state of decay. 

Created February 2005
Showcases self-made celebrities eg: Amber Lee Ettinger barelypolitical known as Obama Girl from the video “I Got a Crush... on Obama”

Trained as a fashion designer, now model, actress and internet celebrity
Play on porn title

Barak Obama

‘Pop’ President
His election seems to offer progress in American politics as he is the first black president
Young, good looking, musical
Employs graffiti artist Sheperd Fairey for his election campaign

Princess Diana

Represents innocence and beauty as the truth of her marriage to Charles emerges
Reinvents herself as fashion icon as they begin to separate

The Paparazzi
Seem to be to blame for  Diana’s death in 1997
But our demand for ‘real life’ images of celebrities creates a market for these images which command huge financial rewards

We want to see the mask of celebrity lifted, we want to think that these idealised images are as flawed as our own real lives.
The wealthier and more flawless a celebrity seems, the more there is envy 
Envy manifests through imitation

Had to be broadcast on cable tv and shown online as so many people want to be part of the event.
There is a sense of ownership of public figures and the whole idea of mass mourning explodes since the death of Princess Diana in 1997
Commercial value to death – 27 singles expected to chart and prices of her music artificially hiked- capitalism in music industry
David Beckham
Contemporary ‘everyman’
Beckhams as a brand
Cross worlds of sport fashion and music
Products include underwear fragrance as well as clothing 
Overcomes private life scandals- he seems invincible!

Imitation of Celebrities

From the comic/kitsch to indie rock
Alison Jackson

Beckham/Camilla parker Bowles lookalikes
Many images of sexual/comic nature
Uses the tropes of paparazzi long lens photography
Out of focus foreground suggests spied moments
Grainy b&W codes signify press intrusion (no use of flash)

Imagined family scenes like this portrait which plays on the conspiracy theories that Diana was killed because she was pregnant to Dodi Al Fayed.

Ownership of celebrity looks
Pierre and Giles
Before photoshop used widely
Retouched /airbrushed images
Studio sets
Colours from Indian religious posters

Jean Paul Gaultier 1990
From celebrities as royals 
To celebrities as religious icons in the 80’s and 90’s
Photoshop 1990 onwards

Valencian Spanish painter

More accustomed to Da Vinicis last supper

Imagery from the tarot

‘The Tower’ means dramatic endings (and new beginnings)

vJohn Stezaker’s work re-examines the various relationships to the photographic image: as documentation of truth, purveyor of memory, and symbol of modern culture. In his collages, Stezaker appropriates images found in books, magazines, and postcards and uses them as ‘readymades’. Through his elegant juxtapositions, Stezaker adopts the content and contexts of the original images to convey his own witty and poignant meanings. In his Marriage series, Stezaker focuses on the concept of portraiture, both as art historical genre and public identity. Using publicity shots of classic film stars, Stezaker splices and overlaps famous faces, creating hybrid ‘icons’ that dissociate the familiar to create sensations of the uncanny. Coupling male and female identity into unified characters, Stezaker points to a disjointed harmony, where the irreconciliation of difference both complements and detracts from the whole. In his correlated images, personalities (and our idealisations of them) become ancillary and empty, rendered abject through their magnified flaws and struggle for visual dominance. In using stylistic images from Hollywood’s golden era, Stezaker both temporally and conceptually engages with his interest in Surrealism. Placed in contemporary context, his portraits retain their aura of glamour, whilst simultaneously operating as exotic ‘artefacts’ of an obsolete culture. Similar to the photos of ‘primitivism’ published in George Bataille’s Documents, Stezaker’s portraits celebrate the grotesque, rendering the romance with modernism equally compelling and perverse.

Social Media

We can follow celebrities
Details of their home and private lives
We can find out immediately of their latest projects
Read their innermost thoughts

How do we ‘keep in touch with celebrities lives? 
Whereas untill recently we might have had to wait for the magazine to come out now we have  direct unmediated link to the stars- 
This lack of mediation means that stars often make their own PR disasters

Elvis’s Hair- $115,120 by selling a lock from the famous black quiff back in 2002.
Britney Spears Gum – $514
Scarlett Johanssons used tissue- $5,300 made for charity
during the golden age of hollywood fans would have coveted a signature as it meant a real connection to the stars hand. In the age of technology the signature has lost it’s power and authenticity, it’s link to a unique identity.

Celebrity items on ebay- the price of a piece of celebrity?  We don’t want to just dress like them. We want their DNA!

Guy Debord - Society of the Spectacle
The spectacle is the inverted image of society in which relations between commodities have supplanted relations between people, in which "passive identification with the spectacle supplants genuine activity". "The spectacle is not a collection of images," Debord writes, "rather, it is a social relationship between people that is mediated by images."

Kony 2012
The participants included 20 "celebrity culture makers", such as George Clooney, Angelina Jolie, Oprah Winfrey (whose talk show helped to spread the video)

A short film created by Invisible Children, Inc., authors of Invisible Children, and released on March 5, 2012.
The film's purpose is to promote the charity's "Stop Kony" movement to make Ugandan cult and militia leader, indicted war criminal and International Criminal Court fugitive Joseph Kony globally known in order to have him arrested by December 2012, the time when the campaign expires.

The film spread virally. As of 17 October 2012 (2012 -10-17), the film had over 93 million views on video-sharing website YouTube, and over 16.6 million views on Vimeo,
Thus far the campaign has resulted in a resolution by the United States Senate and contributed to the decision to send troops by the African Union
As part of the campaign, American supporters were asked to put up posters in their hometowns in an action named "Cover the Night", which took place on April 20, 2012
Jason Russell, who was hospitalized on March 15 due to "a temporary psychotic breakdown believed to have been brought on by the pressure of the success – and criticism – of the first film”
Film Accussed of over simplification of the political situation in Uganda./ criticisms of fundraising methods- buy a wristband/poster pack.
Spectacle VS Activism

One gathering in Vancouver had only 17 people; another in Brisbane had fewer than 50 attendees. In Canberra, several Facebook groups resulted in a few gatherings of two or three people each; Pierre Johannessen, a "law firm partner who runs a charity for disadvantaged children", distributed around 3,000 posters to the groups to be put up throughout the city. In Phoenix, 200 posters were put up by "college students and other people in their teens and 20s", along with a number of chalk and stencil messages.

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