The march to control is still on
By Kerry L. Marsala
Condemnation and ridicule are now on the menu, as The Rev.4 Ian Johnson, chairman of the South-Hampton Council of Faiths, labeled the work as "pretentious" and said it was "not art". There was comparable criticism from the Muslim Council of Southampton, with Azad Majid describing the exhibition as "crude and juvenile", even adding the final words of his disdain as, "Instead I came out of the exhibition extremely disappointed by a handful of artist who, in an attempt to be risqué, used pre-pubescent themes to emphasize their contempt for religion."
It would seem that when an artist offends or makes a statement that creates an uncomfortable atmosphere for the viewer, that criticism and censorship are the order of the day.
Why do you ask did I decide that these thoughts were news worthy and worth sharing with the artists here? Speaking as an artist of various mediums, my experience is vast in working with galleries and exhibition showings that I've been involved with over the years. It is a trend I am noticing overall, this picking and choosing what one will allow to be represented art to the masses and what is considered garbage or "crude and juvenile". True the established gallery's and exhibitors of the arts are the owners and can make their judgment calls of what they want to display and have their name attached to, but the simple fact of the matter is this- political correctness has touched the arts community- when a painting called The Scarlet Lady was banned from an artist gallery for its depiction of a woman's backside. It was found to be vulgar, and the gallery worried it would be to offensive to the public. Yet this same work can be seen on display at another gallery twenty miles north… as a beautiful representation of a woman marked by society.
Art is individual, it is held within its own defining by the creator and not for the elite to decide what the proper etiquette of depiction was, nor try and demean the creator. How can a few with power in a community decide what is to be acceptable or not to the masses? Yes, contests, exhibits, and galleries have the right to reject or accept what they will display and honor- freedom of ones own ideals is a supported belief amongst those in the art community, but labeling for the sake of ones own personal opinions and remarks of degradation are uncalled for. Lest we repeat a time in history when the extreme took place, let us be watchful and mindful of how we cross our own personal points of view with the freedom of expression.
The Third Reich's misguided hatred and supremacy doctrine included some of modern arts greatest contributors. They were Marc Chagall, Paul Klee, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Paul Fuhrmann and many others. These artists had something to say, and their freedom of expression a few elite tried to squelch… God help us all if we don't learn from our past.
Kerry L. Marsala is a freelance journalist who is terrible at being patient enough to check punctuation and grammar. She figures if Bernard Shaw can get away with it, she might have a chance too.