It was at the Akrata seaside just over a year ago that Dr Anastasius Moumtzoglou started conceptualising his next project − Reinstating Beauty − related to art and patient-centred care. While the two areas may seem unrelated, deeper insight into Dr Moumtzoglou’s background and study of the ancient Greek concepts of beauty reveals a clear connection, and one that is vital in moving forward into the future for ageing populations like our own in Australia.
Born and raised in Greece, Dr Moumtzoglou was always interested in both the arts and sciences, leading him to pursue studies in health services management, macroeconomics, and finally a PhD in economics, and now teaches the module of Healthcare Quality at graduate and postgraduate levels. Since 2010 he has been trying to combine the two scientific domains of healthcare quality and e-health, and in doing so has written, contributed and edited extensively in the field.
And then there’s his art and medium of choice, photography, which he has written about and exhibited extensively.
With his latest project, which he is now crowdfunding for to make it a reality, Dr Moumtzoglou plans to print a 60-page book of photos taken by himself and, through his extensive research, accompanied by quotes from various philosophers and artists.
While the crowdfunding campaign is associated with beauty in art − as in kάllos − there is a second dimension directly related to his specialisation that is about patient-centred care.
“I define patient-centred care as the symmetry of the artful and the perfunctory element which is represented by the ancient Greek word techne. In other words, patient-centred care is associated with respect and broad-mindedness to the patient needs, relevant ethics, and concern for community well-being,” he says, which is associated with the other term for beauty − kalόs, translated as ‘noble,’ ‘good,’ ‘well done,’ or even ‘virtuous’.
Neos Kosmos reached out to Dr Moumtzoglou to learn more about the project.
What inspired you to embark on the project?
There is a classical Greek word that comes much closer to the modern notion of beauty; if kalόs is too broad in its signification, the other term is rather narrower − the noun kάllos, which etymologically is related to kalόs but is distinct from kalόs in its usage.
On the other hand, notwithstanding that patient-centred care may be considered of modern origin, its essence can unquestionably be found in the Hippocratic Oath (an oath stating the obligations and proper conduct of doctors).
However, beauty has been displaced as the essential quality of art. Moreover, the inclination to the origins of medicine − respect and broad-mindedness to the patient’s needs, relevant ethics, and concern for community well-being prominently evident in Hippocrates − has been long discontinued. In this context, dealing with healthcare quality, as well as photography, I thought it would be a great idea to combine both issues in a project.
Since starting the project, what kind of research has been involved?
As patient-centred care was a familiar domain to me, the project required research regarding the historical exploration of the nature of beauty, and the comparison of the Greek idea of beauty with contemporary aesthetics. I read a lot, but my inspiration is based on the book of David Konstan titled Beauty: The Fortunes of an Ancient Greek Idea.
Why do you think it is important that this book be published?
Beauty in art, as well as patient-centred care, has been displaced as a quality of modern society. However, the notion has been making something of a comeback in writings on art and culture, as well as the organisation of healthcare systems. As a result, the topic of the book merges and intersects valuable knowledge which is relevant to artists. On the other hand, my crowdfunding campaign (posted on Indiegogo) covers the dimension of patient-centred care. If the funding hits higher amounts, the campaign will not only be associated with the noun kάllos (beauty) but instead, a more general notion of excellence in ancient Greece with the dissemination of patient-centred care in Greece.
You say political correctness has surrounded the topic of beauty until now. What has been the result of this?
Beauty has been displaced as the essential quality of art, as Kant led the way by elevating the sublime as an independent and equal aspect of art. With the advent of Romanticism, the sublime came to replace beauty as the stronger of the two. Moreover, the banishing of beauty from the humanities in the last two decades has been carried out by a set of political complaints − one of them holds that beauty merely distracts us from attending to social ills.
Can you reveal some of the artists and philosophers featured in the book?
The book includes the quotes and sayings of philosophers such as Plato, Hermogenes of Tarsus, Stobaeus, Alexander Gottlieb Baumgarten, Longinus and Demetrius of Phaleron, and associates each quote with a photograph I took in Greece.
Does the economic crisis in Greece make it harder to publish such books?
High-quality print jobs cost thousands of euros, as a minimum of 1,000 copies must be printed. Additional costs include the fine printing of the photographs and the gallery rent. In this context, the economic crisis in Greece severely affects these activities.
Finally, what do you envision for the book’s future?
After publication I intend to exhibit fine prints of the photographs included in the book. However, my vision is broader, as beauty and quality always go hand in hand for me. As a result, I hope the book is the starting point not just for reinstating beauty in art but also in promoting patient-centred care, a conception that comprehends patients as peer partners in planning, developing and assessing care. If successful, that would be a dream that becomes a reality.
To help make Dr Anastasius Moumtzoglou’s book a reality, visit www.indiegogo.com/projects/beauty-reinstated-photography-art#/