Tag Archives: news

Nudity: Going Naked for Art? or Just Chimp Marketing?

Nudity has been the bedfellow of art since the ancient Greeks. The Greeks had naked bodies everywhere in their art not to mention what the Romans did with theirs. It’s not the sight of a naked human body that I find rather disturbing. Rather it’s the degree to which the idea of getting naked as performance art at major art venues is becoming the norm.

We recently covered an article about the artist Milo Moiré. Her strange desire to get naked in Basel, Switzerland during an art festival did not go unnoticed by either the authorities, who could do nothing legally, or the sponsors of the event.   I realize that one naked performance artist tramping her way through crowds of art sightseers is hardly a pandemic of nefarious nudity.

However, according to Artnet news, in May, the performance artist Deborah de Robertis decided to produce her own version of Gustave Courbet‘s L’Origine du monde (Origin of the World) and exposed her genitalia for the room to see.   The authorities at the Musée d’Orsay saw very little humor in the unscheduled event and had her performance cut short with a police escort.

At this point you might believe that this is a European problem. Alas, no. According to NPR, Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi is currently facing a potential 2 year prison sentence in Japan for creating a kayak modeled after her genitals. This is a strict no-no in Japan. She has already run into trouble with the Japanese police for just trying to raise the money for the Kayak and once again for sending pictures of it online.

Again, the issue is not the nudity. It’s the notion behind the nudity. None of these artists are arguably creating anything more worthwhile that scandalous publicity. It’s one thing to dutifully perform these acts as a symbol of protest or support for some political or ideological ideal, it’s quite another to just get naked and/or proudly display your genitals for a bit of publicity.

For the record, each artist claims they did these acts of exposure for artistic reasons. That’s fine in a sense. However, the more skeptical minded would see this as a mere attention-getting stunt. I mean, what are you protesting by exposing your genitals to a room full of people in front of a painting made in 1866?

Would it be wrong to see this as a simple yet rather effective marketing ploy that hopefully results in higher art sales? That of course brings us to a secondary question. Will it work? That these stunts might actually lead to a rise of personal sales by each of these artists is troubling.

I find this kind of marketing desperate and rather inartistic. If one wants to openly display oneself as some primal oriented object to garner personal attention, then how is that art?

Feeling
Feeling by Andrew Chianese

Our primate cousins do this on a daily basis. Have we reduced  the arts to the level of chimpanzee marketing?  How then does this display make for art of a higher purpose? If it doesn’t, why do it?

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Kings, Activist’s and Dogs: Spanish Statue Controversy Exposed

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)

Ines Doujak's Not Dressed for Conquering, 2010
Ines Doujak’s Not Dressed for Conquering, 2010

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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Art, Theft, and Shutters?

Looking at Wooden Shutter, the name of the piece presented in our gallery this week, I’m briefly reminded of the purpose for which shutters serve. They protect the glass of the window and keep storms or flying debris out of the home or building upon which they reside.

Wooden Shutters
Wooden Shutters

 

Artistically, they represent a doorway threshold, an imaginary line between out there and in here. According to an article by Sarah Cascone , it seems that Amanda Lou Packard, 56, from New York state is one of those people who definitely belong out there. She entered this dubious distinction with a daylight heist of stupendously surreal senselessness. I should say she alleged to commit heist, because technically she hasn’t stood trial for the theft of a painting she stole yet.

Amanda Lou Packard captured on surveillance stealing a painting from the county administration office. Photo: Monroe County District Attorney's Office.
Amanda Lou Packard captured on surveillance stealing a painting from the county administration office.
Photo: Monroe County District Attorney’s Office.

 

But, as the picture shows, it’s going to be a difficult case for the defense attorney.  they have to somehow come up with a decent excuse as to why she entered the Monroe County Administration Building to buy some dog tags and then seen leaving with a rather conspicuously large oil painting.

It seems it took the authorities about 2 weeks before they noticed that the painting Sciota Mill Stream by Danielle Reish was missing.   According to Fred Beaver’s  the painting has hung in the administration building for 25 years. So when they discovered it missing, they went to surveillance tapes to find the reason.

Though what I’d like to know is why she took the painting in the 1st place. According to the article she acquired the painting about 25 minutes after she picked up her dog tags. 25 minutes of walking around looking for a painting to steal? Was she bored?

Of course, this brings me to another question.   What did she do with it? Because the authorities actually recovered the work, she obviously didn’t try to sell the painting. So, was it just hanging in her home?   Was it an ill thought souvenir of her time getting dog tags?   Weird.

So, like the work Wooden Shutters it seems this is an open and shut case… Get it? Open… Shut… Shutters… Ok. I’ll stop now….   Have a great day.

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Shocking Photographic Behavior at Angkor Temple Complex

I read photographic art and general art news almost everyday, most of the time the news is a story about a massive sale at a top auction house involving millions of dollars.   The mental image of those grand art auctions is much like our picture this week.  Ornate Column in Lightcarvings, marble columns and the hint of sophistication where the clients satisfy their need for the exquisite.

But every so often I find a true gem. This is one of those news events that you can’t believe. You end up reading the opening statement twice before it really hits home.

Three French tourists in their early twenties have been arrested by Cambodian authorities for taking nude photos of each other inside the country’s famed Angkor temple complex, officials said Friday. – artdaily.com

 

Seriously? I find myself in one of those odd moments hoping that the cause of their little escapade is a little recreational drug use. I find it hard to imagine that three men in a sober and coherent state of mind would decide to pose nude for photographs at a major cultural temple complex.

Of course recreational drug use would not excuse the outrageous, and let’s face it, idiotic behavior, but it would give a better understanding of why they did such a thing. However, I think it’s the youthful lack of understanding cause and effect that truly bothers me though. That they attempted this stunt is bad enough, but they attempted their little stunt just after a few days a small group of women did the same thing causing a major incident and official protest. Well umm…  Duh?

I’d guess that none of the three defendants are really thinking it was a good idea about now. They are facing  a charge of public exposure that is punishable up to 6 months of prison time and may soon face pornography charges that can result in a fine and a year in prison on top of that.

This is in Cambodia. Their prison system is not exactly a well-funded tourist destination. Crowded conditions and poorly paid prison staff accused of mistreatment and taking bribes create a rather unwholesome environment to live in.   Further, these men can look forward to a year and half of very cheap rice and lousy cheap vegetables served twice a day as their only meals for the length of their stay.

I truly wonder if they understand the issues they are now causing at the French embassy and at home with their relatives. All of this aggravation is a result of breaking the 1st cardinal rule of photography and  its proof why the rule exists. That rule is simply to use common sense.

You want to take nude pictures? Fine. That’s nothing new. But go through the right channels. Understand that the authorities may not let you to take the pictures.  Walk away and be happy you won’t rot in a jail that makes an american supermax prison look like a trip to Disney World.

But there is another side effect of this incident that now tugs at my brain. How long will it be before a normal tourist can take a camera into Angkor without arousing undue suspicion of the authorities?   Will this become a case of 3 bad apples ruining it for the rest of us? Will professional photographers be considered simply guilty by association? It’s something to think about.

What are your thoughts?

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More Information: http://artdaily.com/news/76126/Three-French-tourists-arrested-for-nude-photos-at-Cambodia-s-Angkor-temple[/url]