Skinhead: Jamaican Roots, Extreme-Rightists, Gay Iconism — A Movement of Contradictions

Like the dreadlocked Rastafarian and the Punk with his or her pink or blue “Mohican,” the Skinhead — shaven-headed and wearing imposing workmen’s or military-style boots — has become an iconic image — an archetype, even. But of what, exactly? Even today, Skinhead remains an emotive and highly controversial subject. And we approach it with […]

Stranger in a Strange Land: The Male Image as Otherness

John Dee occultist as Ziggy Stardust

He exists as an embodiment of an almost pure ideal. He is partly (in Christian terminology) Christ and partly Anti-Christ. He embodies the ideals of society to such an extent that he is seen, and sees himself, as utterly unlike it. He is mystical and messianic, and — thin and often pale — he seems […]

Strength, Spirituality, and Masculinity Against Materialism

“Make your nerves strong,” said Swami Vivekananda, “What we want is muscles of iron and nerves of steel. We have wept long enough. No more weeping, but stand on your feet and be men. First of all, our young men must be strong. Religion will come afterwards.” That religion will come after — and in some sense […]

Punk, Feminism, and the anarchist Femme Fatale

sexy punk girls

Young women did much to shape the Punk movement of the late 1970s, even if they often overlooked or relegated to the role of girlfriend and groupie (think “Sid and Nancy”). Along with Malcolm McLaren, Vivienne Westwood was perhaps the first designer of Punk clothing. Siouxsie Sioux was one of the more famous, and early, Punk […]

The Veil Illuminated: Photographer Drew Tal Reimagines the Niqab in New Exhibit

“Worlds Apart,” an exhibition of photographic works by Drew Tal opened at Emmanuel Fremin Gallery last week. The focus of the exhibition – which is also being shown in Istanbul, Turkey – is the Muslim veil. Most of the works are, at least ostensibly, portraits of various Muslim women, some wearing the niqab (veil) and some […]

A “Topless Burka-Clad Model” and Radical Islamic Fashion

“The art of apparel is made all the more important in Islamic countries by the absence of any human image,” wrote Titus Burkhardt (1908-1984), a scholar of, and convert to, Islam. “It is,” he said, “the art of clothing that in a way conveys the Muslim’s ideal image of himself as a Muslim.” Perhaps this […]

Profane Sacredness: Spirituality, Sexuality and Violence in Art

Can sacred art be ugly? Can it seem even to be against the sacred? There are a couple of contemporary manifestation of religion and imagery that might cause us to ask these questions. In India, today, poster images of Hindu goddesses Saraswati, Durga and Lakshmi have begun being displayed in public as part of the “Save […]

Authoritarian Personality: Power and Subversion in Popular Culture

Duran Duran: The Chauffeur.

Moral superiority is the preferred pose of those lacking knowledge and understanding, it seems. And today, in our neo-Victorian era, morality is all the rage. Facts, thin on the ground, are swept under the rug with the suggestion that the speaker — whether pundit, politician, or popular entertainer — is morally offended. Yet, throughout the […]