Tuesday, August 25, 2009

DAMage Report - Freedom of Choice Goes BOTH Ways


Art 'tards. Sometimes artists and galleries do more damage to public perceptions about art than
any narrow-minded, repressed, censorship-loving weenie out there.

The freedom to create and exhibit art without censorship comes with the responsiblity of giving those
who may not wish to see controversial or explicit art the freedom to walk away unscathed. Particularly in public
venues where children may see visuals that are age inappropriate.

We're not talking abstracted nude sculptures. We're talking semen spewing cowboys and blowup photographs of skanky celebrity vagina.
Forget the kids - I've seen enough pictures online of that particular poontang to last me a life time.

Mr. Bernstein points out in his NY Times article "It’s O.K. if [the gallery] wants to show vulvas in extreme close-up. (I don’t believe in censorship.) What’s not O.K. is that the only warning to parents was a tiny sign at the entrance to the gallery. The wording was clear — “These galleries contain graphic imagery. Parent/adult discretion is advised” — but the size and style of the sign made it unlikely that any harried parent would even notice it.

Points to the gallery for posting a warning. Demerits for not posting something legible/noticable. I understand there may be gallery esthetics involved but come on... by posting warning so they don't serve their function, the gallery ended up failing to uphold their responsibility to their visitors. Which was give them a CHOICE.

Another museum Mr. Bernstein took his son to could almost be accused of false advertising or at the very least misrepresentative marketing.
"A show by Takashi Murakami at the Brooklyn Museum in 2008 was a major draw for parents and kids. The first piece on display, a teaser in the museum’s lobby, was a playful sculpture of cartoonlike characters, which made my sons want to see more. So it came as a shock when, entering the main exhibition space, we were greeted by a masturbating cowboy spinning a lasso of his semen. There was no warning, unless you counted the sign urging parents and teachers to preview exhibitions before bringing children to see them. (Great advice, but hardly practical.)"

That kind of thing chaps my ass as much as seeing a sale circular for red boots, only to find out the store doesn't carry any.

The general public will continue to view (or not view as the case may be if they are given a damn choice) contemporary art as shocking, aggressive, and exploitive, reacting with automatic negativity towards subjects they don't understand and don't want to - if galleries, museums, and artists neglect to be sensative to viewer issues. Come on. How hard it is to post a warning and include relevant details in news stories? A writeup I read on the Murakami exhibit described the Lonesome Cowboy as "life-size but hardly lifelike sculptures of anime-manga derivation: “Hiropon,” a busty woman, and “My Lonesome Cowboy,” her well-endowed male consort. Both are mostly naked, with streams of bodily fluids spewing from various body parts." Is semen a no-no word in the media?

Like Mr. Bernstein, I don't believe in censorship of the arts. I believe if an artist wants to make it, a gallery wants to show it and a person wants to see it and possibly buy it - that is completely and absolutely their right and no one should take it from any of them. But I also defend the rights of the parent who doesn't want to expose their child to sexually explicit art.

Same goes for any person out there who doesn't want to walk into a gallery and be speared in the eye by the world's most exposed vulva of all time.


Charlene Teglia said...

Whoa. We believe in exposing our kids to art, but we also like to have a good idea what that entails.

Paul said...

Right on the money again, Lakota. Should be a great big door with a sign, Inside This Room is the Rude Stuff. Deliberately causing offence to attract publicity is so passe and so counter-productive as you have pointed out. Great work, again, you.