Blog Body and Art in the Digital Age

The cult of the body


El culto al cuerpo asociado a la economía consumista nos presiona psicológica y socialmente para gastar energía, tiempo y dinero en ese frustrante intento de alcanzar la figura ideal, una irrealidad que nos daña en muchos sentidos propiciando enfermedades como la Anorexia, la Bulimia o la Vigorexia pero que se ha erigido en adalid de una industria floreciente, el culto al cuerpo viene potenciado por diversas vertientes de la moda y la publicidad.

Incluyo en este apartado, como ejercicio intelectual, el análisis académico de un audioivisual dentro del marco de los cursos de verano 2013 de la UOC (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya), impartido por la doctora en Sociología del género por la Universidad de Edimburgo y exmodelo internacional Patricia Soley_Beltrán, premio anagrama de ensayo 2015 con ¡Divinas! Modelos, poder y mentiras'.

by Rosario Gómez
En este ensayo analizo un vídeo de Dominique Palombo cuyo título es “MOVE” RACHEL Rachel Roy verano 2011. Tiene un carácter publicitario, presenta una colección de moda. Mi intención, siguiendo distintas lecturas es aproximar diferentes aspectos de estas imágenes a una visión cultural transversal, basada en la antropología y especialmente en la sociología del cuerpo. Me planteo un análisis centrado, principalmente, en el discurso de género recogido en las teorías feministas de Ruth Butler, con su enfoque sobre los condicionantes interaccionales, interseccionales y performativos de las imágenes publicitarias.

Según estas teorías, la masculinidad y la feminidad se definen en interacción, el género se concibe como el conjunto de símbolos culturales y evoca diferentes representaciones. Incluye también observaciones basadas en reflexiones de la antropóloga Mary Douglas quién interpreta el cuerpo como un marcador social y algunas consideraciones a partir de las teorías de Berger.

This creative team uses a complex visual alphabet, including elements that range from the choice of fashion designs and their adaptation to choreographic criteria, to audiovisual composition in postproduction limited to concepts of space and time that help to the construction of meaning. Other elements are also interesting, such as the selection of the cast, the music and the attitudes and modes of interrelation between the characters in order to establish a seductive and rewarding relationship with the viewer. It proposes an unconventional model pass to emphasize a lifestyle that translates creative values, originality, transgression and great vital tension, leaving behind learned and reiterative attitudes in fashion presentations. They use a dance team that shows the costumes from a choreographic work by Jermanie Browne, full of attractiveness and dynamism. The staging focuses on the corporeality, the meaning of the different garments is also conditioned by its shape, color and texture, by the attitudes and interrelations of the different models, role that in this case the dancers assume.

Iconographically speaking, in this video highlights the selection of a young team that shows a casual and functional wardrobe in bright spaces and without anecdotes or backlights. The composition is resolved in several short scenes that are chained by cast to black and in each of these scenes several dancers masterfully expose their great psychophysical culture and self-control by representing unconventional models of relationship and rich in dance nuances, in my opinion , are models of high stylistic definition that denote great refinement. The video shows desaturated or blue-toned colors that elude the saturation of the senses. The program reproduces schemes of a technological society and this is defined by showing dancers with movements alluding to robotics (01: 22), while machinic dance effects are outlined through the changes of rhythm by cuts of frames on several occasions. In this sense, it can be said according to Berger, that there is no text without context.

Iconologically, the bodies are posed, following Mary Douglas, as a metaphor of vitality, joviality, health, discipline, rigor, beauty, self-control and in a certain way of transgression since old intersectional conceptions of gender are diluted in them, the different races interrelate with freedom, they seem to strengthen the concept of the Alliance of Civilizations. We also appreciate that women show themselves as an active principle as that of men, contravening the dichotomous principles of active / passive interaction theory, on the other hand, both women and men define their relative hierarchical importance in the screen space varying from position constantly. Here the concept of Berger does not work The active man and the woman appear, in fact we find a change of roles in a scene (01: 45) in which a fallen black man is seen and an oriental woman approaches (is dominant) and helps him, he creates a cozy space for her. They are bodies that visually transgress the concepts of docility and condemnation raised by Foulcault in the book Monitor and Punish, in this sense, charge a dimension of political and social criticism and are oriented towards concepts of liberation of eroticism in favor of art, hedonism, positive collaboration and emotion.

Do not forget that despite this first sense, it is an advertising montage in which eroticism, really, is released in favor of a commercial brand, are bodies full of glamor that serve to condition our view through from the perspective of the audiovisual industry and with it, making us receptive to the fashion product through its symbolic value. Nor should we forget the level of discipline to which the dancers must be subjected, the level of suffering due to contractures, falls and fatigue that they have to overcome in order to enter the scene. It is not therefore bodies dancing in free dance through which to assert themselves as individuals, but bodies shaped by the criteria of a choreographer, subject in turn to the criteria of the commercial brand, docile bodies. In this way, although they adopt dance attitudes that question old stereotypes of race and gender and in this sense their social position is ethical, one can not speak of bodies in freedom. We could say better, that it is a work of seduction in the conceptual sense that Braudillard aims for, to seduce is to die as reality and to model oneself as an illusion.

Regarding the positioning of this production in relation to the sense of social class, we see a sectoral approach to the upper middle class of the technologically advanced countries, it is functional, young and Western-style clothing. The direct allusion to specific features of oriental, African or indigenous cultures is avoided in this collection, although an urban tribe feeling alive (03: 30), with tattooed bodies or design hairstyles, as a differential feature and also the style of clothing is part of the dynamics of creation of the self within a predefined and restrictive social group, desirable and in some way unattainable if not you acquire the garments of this commercial brand. The spectator akin to the presented brand, is caught between what is and what he would like to be, vulnerable to the power of the advertising mechanisms that show us an idealized and unrealized world. The most acrid social realities are hidden in favor of an aestheticized and aseptic world, just lets us see, in the face of the harsh reality of life, the need to be an aggressive person in the commercial jungle that surrounds us and this is done by showing aggressive expressions (03: 50) and with a postproduction full of fast and large cuts Close-ups that seem to want to get in our eyes and empty our mental contents. Also dancers at times show their animal dimension adopting positions that seem to arise from instinct and pleasure rather than reason.

This ad suggests, through all these audiovisual resources, that it takes more than money to integrate into the lifestyle we see on the screen, it is necessary to adapt to some identifying features that will make you a desirable person, but only if You are young, agile or adopt jovial composures. Here one can adopt a critical position in the sense that advertising helps to build an exclusionary social model and that it reflects the human body. All the bodies on stage are Apollonian, questionable standards are imposed on what is and is not convenient, trying to nullify our reasonable mental conceptions, in favor of commercial profit.

We can also appreciate through this video, how the media build us as social subjects, issuing programs that help us create social cohesion while unifying tastes and attitudes. They define the trends to follow in a tax manner, since individuals who do not conform to the standards predetermined by the media are rejected, although it is true that the current internet culture is collaborating to open enormously the field of criteria with which we can build ourselves through programs not directed by commercial corporations. In a positive sense, despite taking the lack of youth as a discriminatory feature, if you can see that they have been overcome some of the commercial handicaps reported in the article Ideal Bodies, which explains the living conditions suffered by the models to be able to reach the required sizes, which often leads to anorexia.

In this video the models appear less thin, show healthy bodies that emit messages with personality and are not lost as objects inside a suit, they extol the dance culture contributing their interpretative individuality and are respected, from this point of view, the realization team adopts an ethical stance and collaborates with the overcoming of harmful attitudes, justified only by the profit motive of the different unscrupulous merchants. It seems that they want to discredit the idea that you have to build a body tailored to small sizes, instead of building carvings for a wide variety of bodies, so that dietary asceticism does not work urgently in the formation of docile bodies.


The body is thought through advertising as an aesthetic object. The cult to the body shows an obsessive devotion to the exterior figure, for its health, its appearance and perfect functioning, which provokes the rejection of our real body and our reality lived bodily. The cult of the body is an aspect of the ideology of consumerism, which presses us psychologically and socially to spend energy, time and money in that frustrating attempt to reach the ideal figure, an unreality that harms us in many ways. Consequently, I agree with Martín Ruíz Calvente that we should understand our body, beyond advertising imperatives and appearance, as a volitional and projective reality from which to promote our personal fulfillment, through the love for the development of our best skills and thus enhance new spaces of freedom.


  • Berger John, Ways of Seeing
  • López F. Cao Marián. Gauli Pérez, Juan Carlos, doctor of image sciences. The Imagined Body. Complutense Magazine of Education 2000, vol11, nº 2, 43-57. Univ. Complutense Madrid.
  • Martínez Barreiro, Ana. The social construction of the body in contemporary societies. University of Coruña. Department of Sociology and Political Science.
  • Ruiz Calvente, A Parte Rei 72, November 2010. Philosophy Magazine. The human body as an aesthetic object
  • Soley_Beltrán, Patricia. Ideal bodies. An interdisciplinary approach to the study of fashion models. Quaderns (20XX) 26, pp. Xx.xx. ISSN xxxx-xxxx
  • Soley_Beltrán, Patricia. Eroticism, body and consumption. Ramón Llull University of Barcelona.
  • Soley_Beltrán, Patricia. Talking dolls. Ethics and aesthetics of beauty models in advertising and fashion. Department of Sociology of the University of Edinburgh.
  • Torras, Meri. Body and Identity Gender and Sexuality Studies I. Ed. Speeches
  • Reflexions in feminine. Cos i identitat de gènere. Corporalitat i Societat. Diputació de Barcelona..Area d'Igualtat i Ciutadania.
  • Borkay, Erika. The daughters of Lilith, Ed. Chair, 2005


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