Friday, 19 December 2014


Another strong exhibition at the Zachęta Gallery: "Progress and Hygiene" might sound somewhat misleading (i.e. boring) but this show is a very clever exploration of society's use of the body as a means of control. Think of it as a rendez-vous between science, power and aesthetics.

The curators manage to survey much of the 20th century by featuring an improbable range of artists from Luc Tuymans and Gerhard Richter to Robert Capa and Leni Riefenstahl. Riefenstahl's film "Olympia" (1938), notoriously commissioned by Hitler, is especially unsettling with its combination of beauty, pompousness and historical responsibility. 

Leni Riefenstahl, In der Sauna
Of course it also didn't escape me just how homoerotic this piece of Aryan propaganda is (oh, the bitter irony), with all the sweating torsos and muscly butts and scenes of sauna frolicking. I mean, please
But leaving the gallery I thought, somewhat fatally, that maybe not that much has changed since Riefenstahl. Today it isn't governments that use images of sculpted bodies to control us, but instead a whole industry exists that is built on showing us superior physiques to make us give up our minds (and money) in order to be part of something bigger and seemingly better. 

Bruce Weber's very gay A&F propaganda

Kate Moss and Mark Wahlberg for Calvin Klein
David Gandy for Dolce & Gabbana
Get it? So much for progress. Viva la revolución interior!

Beware, Cindy wants to control you. 

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