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Is This Art? ‘Stronger Looks Better Naked’

Here in Cherwell‘s Art and Books section, we are engaged in a pioneering mission to understand just what exactly constitutes the very nature of art in our ever ambitious society. I myself would like to put forward the suggestion that the latest artefact to have emerged from the Kardashian Empire, Khloé Kardashian’s Stronger Looks Better Naked, could indeed be recognised as the stuff of art. Could this book, I wonder, feature among the nominations for the Turner Prize this year? More importantly, should we, as appreciators and consumers of art, consider its position and influence in the increasingly multifarious artistic landscape?

The tome is divided into three distinct sections: Body, Mind, and Heart. This triptych is sandwiched between two substantial collections of photographs of many a Kardashian. Thus, for the visual purists in the world of art, the work still has much to offer. We, the reader, are encouraged to use the photographs as a source of motivation to change our lifestyle from one consisting of hours spent lying prone, head turned towards the white light of Netflix, to one in which we rise before the break of dawn to seek the spiritual guidance of our personal trainer and sustain our enriching, sociable activities on a diet of steel-cut oatmeal and flax. Khloé’s language is unerringly, enthusiastically assertive. In this way, Stronger Looks Better Naked is a response to the modern search for inspiration. It is an encapsulation of the oft searched-for term #goalz.

Indeed, we live in a virtual world in which we are continually forced to better ourselves both physically and mentally, and to compare our own selfies, diets, friends, possessions, achievements, and sexual feats to those of our fellow humans in a perpetual vortex of ‘online sharing.’ Khloé’s book, I would argue, stands apart from this ostentatious maelstrom of ideas and advice. It is the definitive lifestyle guide of our age. The book is, of course, written by a member of a family whose every activity from their runway shows to their leg hair removal is documented, publicised, and absorbed by an enormous section of humanity. This is a family in which every member has it all: money, status, beauty, popularity, adoration, fulfilment, and an ability to live a life whose every aspect is unashamedly free from the chains of modesty. Thus, Khloé’s work provides us, the readers, with quasi-scriptural guidelines for attaining and maintaining the pinnacle of lifestyles: the Kardashian lifestyle.

Thus, if art is a human creation intended to evoke an emotional response or to make a statement about the human condition, then it is my firm belief that Khloé’s book is art. It outlines a clear set of rules that, if followed correctly, enable the reader to realise the Kardashian lifestyle for themselves. The Kardashian lifestyle and, by extension, Khloé’s book, is itself a representation of our society’s obsession with the self. We struggle under the yoke of a relentlessly self-obsessed culture of self-improvement, self-knowledge, self-awareness, and the selfie. Our struggle is intensified by the desperately competitive environment of comparison in which we are all forced to play an active role, no matter how poor our selfie-game nor how strong our dislike of physical activity. Stronger Looks Better Naked is thus an important artistic response to this post-millennial struggle in our society. I for one would be most excited to see this work among the nominations for this year’s Turner Prize or perhaps to see it on display in the Tate Modern to inspire the many thousands of visitors to ‘turn their lives around.’

Please note: The author personally found the book to be extremely helpful during their own quest for motivation in the dark days of January that proceeded a lengthy festive period of Bacchanalian excess and consumption. The author is an avid follower of each Kardashian on every available social media outlet and hopes to move to LA upon graduation.

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