There is no denying that art is often full of controversy. Artists, curators and yes, even critics are all people and as such each have their own view of politics, religion, and so on. Often times these artistic views are not what the current powers that be would always consider acceptable.
2015 has shown all of us a dramatic and disappointing on going amount of what amounts to censorship and saber-rattling to repress and even destroy art simply because somebody doesn’t like it. The recent destruction of the ancient city of Nineveh and museum relics are perfect examples of the barbarous inability of some people to leave the mental stone age.
I’ve long taken the stance that art should never be censored. This should become the standing rule in societies around the world. The ending of excluding thought provocative art and satire for the simple reason of not agreeing with the message behind it is paramount in our species departure from a cultural stone age.
But all rules have exceptions and there is one form of censorship that should exist. Self-censorship. As an artist, this is the act of realizing when your art is dangerously close to losing it’s message because the audience is so shocked that it offends their reason to sympathize with the sensibilities of the statement.
When that happens, the public starts to believe that the artist is more interested in a shock and awe moneymaking campaign than making art with a genuine statement. Case in point, I’m pretty sure that there were some hidden political agendas behind the recent row at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Barcelona. But that’s been lost in the moment.
There is a work on display that has already cost two curators and the museum’s director their job by allowing it to be displayed. The work in question is Doujak’s Not Dressed for Conquering, 2010. It displays the former King of Spain having sexual interaction with both the Bolivian activist Domitila Barrios de Chúngara and a dog on a bed of Nazi SS helmets. (The Art Newspaper)
Is this art? Yes, unfortunately it is. Does it have the right to be included in a museum? Yes, yes it does. Is it something I want to see displayed? Personally, no. I find it too drastic for my taste. Why do I want to go to a museum to see a copulation exercise between 2 men and a dog? Truthfully, as a tourist in Spain, I would not go see it.
Indeed, I often wonder about the exercising of the mental judgements used in creating such works. Did Doujak sit there for days on end wondering how he could get his political message across? Does he finally, in a flash of inspiration, think, “I’ve got it, I’ll have him copulate with a dog!” and upset that bestiality is not shocking enough, he includes the SS headgear?
Or the curators who saw the work and decided that it’d be just great to show something scandalous like the dead king committing bestiality in a museum where it so happens the widowed Queen is on the board of trustees. I mean, what’s the worst that could happen? Though, I do have to admit that it makes one powerful resignation letter.
No, The real question is where does the artistry stop and lewdness for simply lewdness sake take over? As for me, I think I’ll spend my time finding a nice Rioja and paella and not visit that.
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