The Pleasures and Problems of Drink—Introduction



McAllister A & Nicholls J (2012) The Pleasures and Problems of Drink—Introduction. Visual Resources, 28 (4), pp. 283-289. https://doi.org/10.1080/01973762.2012.732026

The articles in this collection and the visual resources they discuss are testaments to how alcohol weaves its way into the fabric of our cultural history. Alcohol has for thousands of years been the dominant drug of western society: a substance which plays a role in rituals of socialization, the construction of both collective and individual identities, and even philosophical and religious discourse. Look at many of the touchstones of cultural production and you are likely to find alcohol somewhere: from Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper (painted 1495–1498) to Tracey Emin's My Bed (1998), alcohol appears in its various roles as an agent of transformation, a source of solace, an engine of social engagement, and, of course, a cause of destruction and despair. Alcohol is intriguing because it is both ubiquitous and ambivalent: it occupies both the center and the margins of culture. In terms of physiological effects, there is little difference between the glass of champagne raised at a wedding toast, the pint of beer in the pub, and the bottle of cheap vodka downed on the street. What differ are context, belief, and signification. Alcohol is a chemical that embodies culture, a strange substance indeed.

Museology; Visual Arts and Performing Arts

Visual Resources: Volume 28, Issue 4

FundersArts and Humanities Research Council
Publication date31/12/2012
Publication date online16/11/2012
Date accepted by journal16/11/2012
PublisherInforma UK Limited

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Dr James Nicholls

Dr James Nicholls

Senior Lecturer in Public Health, Health Sciences Stirling