In October 2023, Wellcome Collection presents The Cult of Beauty, a major exhibition exploring notions of beauty across time and cultures. This exhibition examines the profound influence of morality, status and health, age, race, and gender on the evolution of ideas about beauty through history.
Through new artist commissions, contemporary artworks, and historical and modern material, The Cult of Beauty includes over 200 objects and artworks featuring artists Juno Calypso, J.D. Okhai Ojeikere, and Angélica Dass amongst others. As well as new commissions by Narcissister, Xcessive Aesthetics, Renaissance Goo x Baum & Leahy, Makeupbrutalism (Eszter Magyar), The Unseen and the new film, Permissible Beauty.
Image: 12 Reasons You’re Tired All The Time, Juno Calypso, 2013, Courtesy the artist and TJ Boulting. Image above: Permissible Beauty, 2022 © RCMG / Soup Co.
The exhibition explores three overarching themes: The Ideals of Beauty, The Industry of Beauty, and Subverting Beauty. It invites visitors to question established norms, challenge preconceived notions of beauty and encourages dialogue, reflection, and more inclusive definitions of beauty.
Subverting Beauty questions what beauty means in society today and how it can be used as a tool to subvert social constructs. New commissions include an experiential installation of digital content from the global south by Xcessive Aesthetics exploring the opportunities nightclub bathrooms can offer as platforms for experimentation and community-building. While a film and new sculptural work by Narcissister, considers the crushing weight of beauty ideals within mixed-race mother-daughter relationships.
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