Monday, June 16, 2008

"Art Speak"

Eva Lake has an excellent post in her blog about “art speak” which reminded me that I wanted to write about the recent controversy at the SFAI.

She pointed out:

"This is one thing I have treasured in my recent investigation on how to write. Books on how to write remind you time and time again that you must communicate. This was reassuring after years in mindfuck art wordage."

I have been following an amazing example of "art wordage" in the current issues of the Art Magazine. The SFAI had to withdraw a video performance, which showed animals being battered to death by the artist. The president of the SFAI wrote a long editorial for the Art Magazine claiming censorship and never mentioned what the problem was or why people objected to it. But many of the non-artist responses in the comments section not only made more sense than he did, they put their finger on the ethical and moral issues involved. The artist, Adel Abdessemed, has made a career of showing cruel and sadistic images and covering them over with thick crusts of art speak. Various art magazines describe his images of violence and destruction as elegant and witty. I guess they are if you find videos of slaughterhouses and human torture elegant and witty.

What the writer is obscuring with his "art-speak" is that the videos featured animals being battered to death, in some cases by the artist, in the name of art. I saw the exhibit and was sickened and I've worked in hospitals all my life. What I saw when the exhibit was pulled was a demand, if you will, for ethical, humanistic and humane values rather than an "anything goes in the name of building my career." If the video had shown the torture of humans done as an art form there would have been no mistaking its brutality. I realize that most of us eat meat and that animals are usually not killed in a humane way but this exhibit wasn't about that. It was about promoting a career by using gruesome and controversial imagery.

Now, talk about “mindfuck” art wordage. My comment was attacked by a certain “Jeff” who called me a fascist for objecting to this type of “art,” and declared that mine was a knee jerk reaction – assuming that I had not done any research on the artist, his career or the exhibit in question. So, not only do we have a very misleading statement from the president of the SGAI about the nature of the exhibit but also a lot of name calling by those who won’t discuss the ethical issues involved with (in this case) battering various animals to death in the name of art.


sfmike said...

Until reading this, I hadn't realized that the artist had actually involved himself in the battering and murdering of animals. I remember at the public access station Channel 29, there was a Vegan group that broadcast porno-violent slaughterhouse tapes that were beyond controversial, and I was extremely ambivalent about their usage, but at least they were trying to horrify people into stopping the killing (supposedly).

In this case, it sounds like pure, nasty exploitation. You go get 'em, Nancy, and to hell with your critics on this issue. On matters like these, I trust your nurse's instincts above all others.

With affection.

Zoomie said...

This isn't the first artist to make a name for himself by being cruel to animals - see this link ( remember 'way back in the '70s when another artist shot a dog to death as an "art piece." What kind of "artist" would resort to that in order to become famous??? SFAI is famous for it's open-minded attitude but this is going too far.