Art Comment Quarterly
Eoin's Aphorisms and Exhortations for the Artist - No. 1
"What notion do humans have that make the gods laugh out loud? - Self-expression."
- Eoin de Leastar
A Question of Social Responsibilities for Artists
Does Art have a responsibility to conform to social norms or should it be a cherished arena for freedom of expression?
Earlier this year a mailbox bomber was terrorising the American Midwest. A grandmother and her granddaughter were seriously injured when the mailbox they opened exploded in their faces. It turns out the bomber was an art student. He was using his mailbox attacks as dots to draw a 'happy face' on the map of the Midwestern States. He was apprehended after he had completed the eyes and nose, but before he could complete the grinning mouth of his performance piece.
Was this an isolated act of madness, or was it the logical progression of the current vogue of shock art?
At last year's annual Cologne Art Exhibition a female artist employed her used tampons as the raw material for her art.
Was that a valid artistic expression, or an insult to common decency? Is her art a reflection of today's society, or could it and the act of its acceptance and promotion by the Cologne art exhibition organisers actually influence society's perceptions and behaviour?
Last year Palestinian art students re-enacted the bloody scene of a suicide bombing at a pizza parlour as part of their end-of-term exhibition. When Yasar Arafat heard about it, he had it shut down, but not before the international press had sensationalized it.
Was Arafat right or wrong to shut it down? Was the international press correct or irresponsible for publicising the event?
Also early last year New York City Mayor Giuliani withdrew funding from and attempted to shut down a show at the Brooklyn Museum of Art that among other works exhibited a painting of the Virgin Mary depicted as black and surrounded by a constellation of cut-out vaginas from porn magazines and with elephant dung attached here and there.
Was Giuliani right to respect and protect the sensibilities of one of the world's major religions, or did he step over the line of his mayoral responsibilities?
Should there be boundaries that constrain what is acceptable as Art? Where and how would we draw those boundaries? Who should be responsible for drawing that line - the artists, or the galleries, arts organisations, and governments who select, promote, and support artists?
Art Comment would like your opinion
If you think artists should respect social norms and sensibilities, vote YES.
If you think artists should exercise total freedom of expression, vote NO.
If you would like to comment more fully on this question write to us at: My Comment. Your comment may be published in a future issue of Art Comment.
Variations on a Theme Exhibition Series: Landscape
One of the most popular themes for artists from earliest times through today is the Landscape. Though humble in the simplicity of its concept - the expression of the world in which we live, the variations of individual artist's interpretations of their worlds are infinite and as worthy as any artistic theme.
Please take a moment to escape your own world and visit those of the artists at the online exhibition Variations on a Theme Exhibition Series: Landscape.
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