Breaking Taboo and DAMage Report stories, art, book pimpage and more!
Friday, October 30, 2009
Pretty cool happening that show listeners and facebook peeps got a heads up on. i thought some of y'all in bloggyland might like to hear about it too. The Moronic Ox Literary Arts and Cultural Journal picked up this week's show article and republished it here:
Recently the Blue Moon Cabaret in Seattle brought burlesque to a high-class Seattle steakhouse. Seattle considers itself the 'sexploration' capital of the U.S. and was able to draw a fair-sized audience for the $225 a plate "intimate" show.
After the multitude of topics bemoaning censorship, sexual repression, and worries that we are spiraling backwards into prudish Victorian hypocrisy, i thought it might be time to celebrate those cities and art lovers who not only continue to embrace sensuality in art but promote it.
"Neo-burlesque" is making a comeback according to a handful of sources. The flashy, cabaret-style entertainment with voluptuous women (and drop-dead gorgeous drag queens) has always been a fascinating form of performance art. More artistically-minded than stripping, while still flaunting the art of tease and seduction, burlesque is a feast for the senses. It encompasses the spectrum of raunchy sass to elegant pageantry.
"Burlesque rose to popularity in the 1930s, hit its peak in the late '50s and is now in the midst of a nationwide revival that local performers swear is making Seattle swoon."
Apparently the burlesque revival has found homes throughout the United States with the large communities on the East and West Coasts. New York City boasts the largest community with notable troops and venues including The Slipper Room, Le Scandal Cabaret, and Pinchbottom Burlesque. In Greensboro, NC, there are burlesque revival performances by Foxy Moxy and her "Cabaret Risque" troupe in the Greensboro Fringe Theater Festival. In Seattle burlesque is queen with Miss Indigo Blue, Miss Trixie Lane, The Queen of Shame, Miss Kitty Baby, Ravenna Black, Paula the Swedish Housewife, Vienna Le Rouge, The Atomic Bombshells, Burning Hearts, The Von Foxies, Glitzkrieg Burlesque, and Sinner Saint Burlesque. In California the San Francisco Bay Area is home of the largest monthly burlesque and variety show the Hubba Hubba Revue.
It is interesting to note that in the 20th century, burlesque and cabaret-type shows gained popularity during repressed/depressed decades in our history. Perhaps Johnny is right, and as one segment of the population tries to restrict behavior and force conformity into a polished little box, there will always be another segment breaking free - loudly and with great flourish - declaring their rights to express.
Since burlesque hasn't made its way down south yet, someone is sooooo taking me to a burlesque show in LA when i come visit in January.
The question for you: what do you think of burlesque as an art form and do you think there are cultural parallels between its rival now and its popularity in the past?
In the U.S. we've become used to hearing stories of artists, poets, cartoonists, journalists and other creative types being arrested and worse for expressing their views via their chosen medium in other countries.
For example,Egypt, which is renown for prosecuting artists, activists and journalists for insulting Islam recently banned a journal by respected poet Helmi Salem because one of his poems compared God to a villager who feeds ducks and milks cows.
In 2005 rioters killed Christians in Denmark, burned churches and called for the execution of cartoonists following the publication of cartoons disrespecting prophet Mohammed.
In Britain, a 15-year-old boy was charged last year for holding up a sign outside a Scientology building declaring, "Scientology is not a religion, it is a dangerous cult."
Dutch prosecutors this year have brought charges against the Arab European League for a cartoon questioning the Holocaust.
Dutch politician Geert Wilders was barred from entering Britain because he made a movie describing the Quran as a "fascist" book and Islam as a violent religion.
In France, actress Brigitte Bardot was convicted for saying in 2006 that Muslims were ruining France in a letter to the Interior Minister.
We have shook our collective heads and patted ourselves on the back for OUR constitutional right to Freedom of Speech. We may not like, agree, or appreciate some of the left wing, right wing, religious and/or bigoted sentiments of our artists, writers, poets, political cartoonists - but as long as they stay within the boundaries of the law, WE'VE respected their right to express. Well...for the most part. Our smug, self righteous days are ending. Times, they are a changing as a climate of censorship continues to grow.
Recently, Yale University Press published The Cartoons That Shook the World, a book by Jytte Klausen on the 2006 controversy surrounding 12 Mohammed cartoons. Yale, however, (over Klausen's objections) cut out the actual pictures of the cartoons.
Still, if you live in the United States, creating a painting and putting devil horns on a picture of the pope won't get you an automatic jail sentence here. Yet. That may soon change if recent resolutions supported by the United States are any indication.
The Obama administration supported the effort of the U.N. Human Rights Council to recognize exceptions to free speech for any "negative racial and religious stereotyping." The exception was made as part of a resolution supporting free speech that passed this month.
Jonathan Turley points out in his article,"the laws achieve tolerance through the ultimate act of intolerance: criminalizing the ability of some individuals to denounce sacred or sensitive values. We do not need free speech to protect popular thoughts or popular people. It is designed to protect those who challenge the majority and its institutions. ...The public and private curtailment on religious criticism threatens religious and secular speakers alike. However, the fear is that, when speech becomes sacrilegious, only the religious will have true free speech. It is a danger that has become all the more real after the decision of the Obama administration to join in the effort to craft a new faith-based speech standard."
Freedom of Speech is fundamental to who we are. It is the most essential tool an artist has. When that freedom dies, so do the arts.
***Sculpture by Alexandre Kosolapov, “the hero. the leader. the god”
I've been following this story for a few weeks and it has proven to be the most ridiculously investigated theft of art i've run across - with wild accusations, poor reporting, possibly shoddy police investigating centered around two men who may or may not have had art stolen. The whole thing does smell funny but that doesn't necessarily indicate guilt. Sometimes people are just stupid. Stupid with $80 million dollars worth of art is pretty impressive though.
In initial stories released I kept wondering why the hell no one was talking to the insurance people who had provided quotes that "were too expensive," for the partners to be able to afford it. Obviously they had to see the collection in order to evaluate it. Insurance reps have now come forward but reports of their comments are still muddied and confusing.
In a recent conversation with a friend I pointed out that without insurance, there would be no purpose in pretending a collection had been stolen. He pointed out that stolen art, especially relatively unknown pieces go way up in value due to the publicity. He speculated that perhaps the owners intended to miraculously reacquire their stolen art and then sell it off at the new higher value due to the publicity. Hmmmmm.... that would be pretty diabolical. And i would imagine with the police watching them so carefully, very hard to pull off.
Below are some research links on various reports on this story. I think this will be Wednesday's Art Topic on the Damage Report. Feel free to share your thoughts.
Have you ever been tempted over and over on a daily basis to do something you just KNOW you shouldn't do because it will just end up biting you in the ass? You resist daily, but can feel the pull, the allure of the forbidden calling you... tempting you to just... give... in. Even though you know it would be a gihugant mistake, you feel yourself waffling on the edge of giving in. The dark side of yourself whispers "just go on and do it. It will bother you over and over and over, every day, if you don't." Stoopid dark side. Meanwhile the other side of yourself is squealing "Danger, Will Robinson! Danger! Danger!"
No, I'm not talking about sex. Or chocolate! Geez.
My personal temptation would mean nothing to you and probably seem inconsequential. The question though, is are YOU ever tempted to do something that you are 99.9999% sure is a mistake?
Do you do it... or do you find the strength to resist? And if you resist, do you wonder what if....?
Digging my way out of the post-work hell trench. Now i'm playing catchup on all those things left to the wayside such as stories, book edits, chasing down an agent, painting, blogging, recontacting friends.
Tonight I have a long-ass and very grueling shoot. This year though I'm wearing pants and avoiding escalators. Just call me elevator girl.
Tomorrow i'm indulging in the annual greek fest and going to bury my face in gyro heaven. Then saturday I'm swinging by the hispanic festival to hang with hispanic community for a bit. I missed going last year and the cultural group noticed AND called me on it. Ooops. So I promised to stop by this year no matter what.
Sunday I have writers' group, which I have missed for the past month due to work, so I'm fairly excited about jumping back in with my homeys. I suspect I will get royally bitch-slapped for not having finished the sending of query letters. I deserve it.
Working on my Angel/Demon story. And thinking of opening a second blog - one that is just for writing and book talk since I seem to be using this predominantly for the show and babble. I need to get back into my online writers' network and keep in touch with my friends there more consistently. I miss them.
A 1983 photo of a 1975 photo of a nude 10 year old is stirring up the controversy battle stations. Appropriately enough, it is connected to an exhibition about controversy in art.
The original title for the Tate show "Sold Out" was changed because some of the artists took offense. (Insert soundtrack of me snickering at what an oxymoron THAT is.) A shame really because it would have left no question in the public's mind that the exhibition was about artists selling out, commercializing, prostituting, exploiting (whatever you want to call it) art for money and fame. As a movement, Pop Art was steeped in sarcasm and self mockery, dedicated to playing off the business end while utilizing controversy to add to the value of a piece by giving the artist his/her fifteen minutes of fame. God bless Mister Warhol everyone.
A 1983 piece by Richard Prince features a photograph of Brooke Shields posing naked in a bathtub. Public outrage and the police have caused the piece to be removed from the exhibition. (Interestingly enough the video of an artist being fucked by her collector is acceptable, as are the other graphically sexual images in the exhibition.)
Mr. Prince's piece is a photograph of a photograph taken by commercial photographer Garry Gross in 1975. A point that is brought up repeatedly is that Ms. Shields unsuccessfully sued Mr. Gross to reclaim the image's copyright.
What isn't brought up as often is that she posed in 2005 for Mr. Prince, standing in the same position but wearing a bikini, for a piece called "Spiritual America IV." Considering his "reclaimed" photo of her had been on
exhibit since 1983, there can be little doubt that she was aware that he had created a piece of art using her image. Her posing for him in a similar pose could easily be construed as consent for use, in my book anyway.
Jack Bankowsky, a New York-based curator says the piece is meant as a comment on exploitation. "I think it's important to be very careful about confusing a work that asks us to think about a situation, with the situation itself,"
“It’s the visual equivalent of the novel Lolita,” Matthew Kieran said. “Do we think Lolita shouldn’t be read? No. Do we think it is deeply morally troubling? Yes. Why is it so good? Because it is deeply morally troubling. Purpose and context are vital. It would be morally repugnant to post the picture on a paedophile website because the intention would be to excite sexual interest. By contrast the same image in an art gallery invites the viewer to confront and explore issues of child sexuality and morality."
The Tate exhibition is about exploitation. It is about the extremes that artists will go to. It is about the dark side of art and human nature. Mr. Prince's piece is one of the most powerful in the show since it hits the topic right on the head on multiple levels. Using an iconic child star was no accident. Using one whose own mother sold her out was no accident. Using one who was exploited and used repeatedly in the name of art (film) and in the name of commerce (advertising) was bloody brilliant on the artist's part. He couldn't have conveyed the message better.
Exploitation of children for money, for sex, for fame...for ART is a reality that many of us shy from thinking too hard on. It is beyond horrific that a parent, a teacher, a relative, a stranger would use a helpless child in such a way. But it is a reality and it happens every day in beauty pageants across the country, in porn studios all over the world, in foster homes and schools, and the supposed sanctuary of a child's home.
And there is no hope of change if no one will talk about it. Not rant, not howl, but TALK about it. The job of good art is to open a path of dialogue. The job of the public is to follow that path and be outraged enough to do something, not just complain.
To wrap it up, one brilliant comment from a blog post about artist Richard Prince:
"many of the most influential artists from the 20th century leave us with ideas and philosophies that have a greater lasting impact than their actual work supports."
And one dumbass comment from Mike Judge, the head of communications for the Christian Institute about the Tate exhibition:
"Art is where you can look at something and be lifted in your soul about the great works humans can accomplish, but to look at something and see the depths to which humility can sink, that is not art."
I think Mister Judge needs to take an art history class.