Alcoholism & The Female Body: Bod-ttle Cap

Major Themes: Alcoholism, Capitalism, Body-image 


Artist Statement: 

In a 2013 public health report performed by Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), they revealed that Canadians’ consumption of alcohol is reported to be 50% above the global average—13.45% of the population being females who were reported as heavy drinkers. This is a significant increase from the number of reported female heavy drinkers since the previous year, which was reported at 10.7%. Amongst these female subjects, 56% of participants admitted to binge-drinking four drinks or more in one sitting beginning at the age of 15 years old. Today, alcohol-abuse has spiralled into the third most prominent cause of our global health liability such as alcoholic liver diseases, motor vehicle accidents and alcohol-related suicides. It is evident that there is a noticeable rise in the overconsumption of alcohol especially amongst the younger female demographics. Why is that? Is it due to the public’s perception of alcohol? A symbol of luxury, pleasure, success, confidence, the means to release or relieve? With the rise of anxiety during the industrial age, the abuse of alcohol came to our attention as a civilization. 

Today, staggering on top of this Jenga of anxiety in the modern age, an image driven and high-tech era, women’s sense of self-esteem and body image is constantly the topic in our day to day interactions. Social media, music, entertainment; it all revolves around the external image of a female, creating an ideal and standard for one’s physical body accessible at our fingertips. It is no wonder such arrays of social pressures emphasized on the female body leads to the habit of individuals’ consumption of a product that causes obliviousness to these overwhelming and unwanted apprehensions. To corporations’ advantage, having highly accessible technology enables the use of powerful visual imaginaries to instantly sell these fantasy frameworks and products to subjects with low self-esteem and fragile body-image — potential consumers. In today’s world, it is inevitable to indulge in such imageries and messages in our everyday lives. 

The consumption of alcohol, a product that is advertised and sold continuously as a fun, stress-free and pleasurable experience is cumulating at an unmanageable and accelerating rate. This is the product of society’s oppression on one’s ownership of their own bodies, resulting in a dangerous and self-obstructing reaction seen in today’s society, especially amongst young women. This is the escalating result of capitalism on one’s body and identity. 


References: 

Bernhardsson, Josefin, and Alexandra Bogren. “Drink sluts, brats and immigrants as others: An analysis of Swedish media discourse on gender, alcohol and rape.” Feminist Media Studies 12.1 (2012): 1-16. 

Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction and University of Victoria Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research (2018). Canadian Substance Use Costs and Harms 2007-2014. Retrieved from: https://www.ccsa.ca/sites/default/files/2019-04/CSUCH-Canadian-Substance-Use-Costs-Harms-Report-2018-en.pdf 

Rehm, J., Mather, C., Popova, S., Thavorncharoensap, M., Teerawattananon, Y., Patra, J. (2009). Global burden of disease and injury and economic cost attributable to alcohol use and alcohol-use disorders. Lancet, 373, 2223-2233. 

Statistics Canada (2015). Control and sales of alcoholic beverages, for the year ending March 31, 2014. Ottawa ON: Statistics Canada. 

Koordeman, R., Anschutz, D. J., Engels, R. C. (2012). The effect of alcohol advertising on immediate alcohol consumption in college students: an experimental 


Culture and Consumerism: The Statue of Luxury

Major Themes: Consumerism, Capitalism, Objet A  


The Statue of Liberty is a colossal neoclassical sculpture erected on Liberty Island in New York, United States since October 28, 1886. The monument was a gift from France proposed by Edouard de Laboulaye, a French political thinker, to commemorate Abraham Lincoln’s and the Americans’ fight for abolition of slavery in 1886. Laboulaye believed that abolition not only eradicates immorality, but more importantly he perceived it as a means to protest against authoritarian tendencies from France at the time. Standing tall is the figure of Libertas, a robed Roman liberty goddess. She embraces a torch with a gilded flame with her right hand raised high above her head, while carrying a tabula ansata in her left arm, inscribed in Roman with “JULY IV MDCCLXXVI” (July 4, 1776)— the date of the U.S Declaration of Independence. The Statue of Liberty has since become a national icon of freedom and a famous tourism destination. Today, it is perceived as a welcoming public spectacle and a sense of freedom to immigrants arriving from overseas. 

Currently living in the 20th century— the era of Technological Revolution, a new form of repression has arisen. The conquest of global secular capitalism, powered by the authority of consumer culture. According to modern-day philosopher, Slavoj Žižek’s reflection, our society has shifted from the ideology of the Big Other to that of the Objet a within the Lancanian psychoanalysis of everyday social and political life. This social shift is deliberately mobilized by global secular capitalism. Within this period of common-sense consumerism, individuals in society are confined in the fantasy framework of “Objet a”— the endless pursuit of happiness; through the act and desire to consume. In today’s culture, material goods and objects resemble social statuses and furthermore embodies an emotional attachment with one’s self. Goods are not only purchased for their material aspects, but rather for what they universally symbolize— their connotations and attachments to one’s self-image and identity in this world. Thus, as one enters society and starts to develop a sense of agency, it becomes inevitable to conform to the structure of social consumer culture and capitalism. “Consumerism puts forward a worldview in which consumption is ‘at the center of meaningful existence’ and shopping is the ideal form of participation in struggles for social change.”— quoted from sociologists, Josée Johnston and Judith Taylor. It is evident that consumerism’s dominance and order of equating personal happiness with acquiring material possessions and consumption is the major influence in obstructing the unsustainable, consumer culture-obsessed world that we live in today. We’ve become slaves to this system and order of living, allowing capital consumerism to dictate our everyday lives and agendas. The public associations and costs of what we consume have become an accumulatively important measurement and binding of our social and personal experiences. 

How did we emanate this modern culture of muddling freedom with the enfranchisement of consuming anything of our choice and moreover as a source of self-fulfillment? Consumption is not merely an act of purchasing a product off the shelf. Therefore, it is important for oneself to be self-aware and question whether they are living a life of liberty or luxury.


References:

Markus Walz, Sean Hingston and Mikael Andéhn. “The magic of ethical brands: Interpassivity and the thievish joy of delegated consumption.” Ephemera: theory and politics in organization. Vol.14(1) 57-80.

Zizek, Slavoj. “Fat Free Smoking and Absolutely No Smoking: Why Our Guilt About Consumption is All Consuming.” Http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/may/21/prix-pictet-photography-prize-consumption-slavoj-zizek 

RSA Animate, “Ethics of Consumption-Cultural Captialism”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GRvRm19UKdA

America’s Story: The Statue of Liberty Arrived in New York Harbor, June 19, 1885: http://www.americaslibrary.gov/jb/gilded/jb_gilded_liberty_1.html Description: Library of Congress: America’s Story telling about the arrival of the Statue of Liberty

American Heritage: An Adventure in Liberty: http://www.americanheritage.org/elementary.html Description: Cut apart The New Colossus poem

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