• Cavacava
    2.4k
    SCH-16_012L-1024x749.jpg

    The painting depicts the unforgettable image of 14-year-old Emmett Till’s dead body in an open casket at his funeral. Till was lynched in Mississippi in 1955 after he was falsely accused of flirting with a white woman. He was horribly disfigured. His mother, Mamie Till, made the decision to have an open-casket funeral, saying, “Let the people see what I’ve seen.' and the photos were published in Jet Magazine a magazine geared to the black population. At Whitney Biennial opening on Friday, a small protest was staged in front of the painting, in an attempt to block it from view:

    emmett-till.jpg

    'The painting is by white NYC artist Dana Schutz. Artist Hannah Black (a black artist) wrote an open letter to the Whitney, signed by dozens of others, demanding not only its removal but also its destruction. Schutz has defended her work, and the biennial’s curators, Christopher Y. Lew and Mia Locks, have called its inclusion consistent with the show’s search for “empathetic connections in an especially divisive time.” Articlet

    It has created an uproar in the art community. Many suggesting that this is the worst kind of cultural appropiation, where the artist makes fun & profits off their work at the expense of the black people's suffering. Schultz denies that it was her reason for the creation and she says she will never sell it. She agrees that she does not know what it is like to be black in America, but she said she does understand what is to be a mother.

    The one criticism I thought worth addressing has to do with the abstract nature of Schultz's work. The face which was disfigured to the point of horror in the photograph is smoothed out in Schultz's work, which has us looking into the coffin similar to how it might be viewed at a wake. I don't think this is the case, I think Schultz did not need to make her work as horrendous as the reality for it to exert its power.

    I think the work is respectful of its subject (maybe a little too respectful but...) it does justice to its subject and raises our awareness of the black/white/(...) discourse that is going on in America.
  • Bitter Crank
    7.2k
    This painting, by "NYC artist Dana Schutz" is typical of her other works. The art blurbs supplied by the Saatchi Gallery are standard non-inferential art palaver. I find her stuff moderately pleasant and interesting to look at, but I don't know what it is about her work that makes her gallery worthy, but that's not the issue here. (I like "Chris's Rubber Soul"...

    Dana-Schutz-ChrisRubber.jpg

    "Schutz uses painting as a means to invent things which just can’t exist in any other genre. In Chris’s Rubber Soul, she uses two-dimensional medium to create a sculpture: half archaic technology, half totemic fetish. Bound by no other logic than its own representation, Schutz offers a form for no other reason that its own contemplation, of beauty, humour, plausibility and possible function." — Saatchi

    It has created an uproar in the art community. Many suggesting that this is the worst kind of cultural appropiation, where the artist makes fun & profits off their work at the expense of the black people's suffering.Cavacava

    I'm not sure whether "cultural appropriation" is a real thing, or just a short-out in the overheated academic imagination. Probably the latter. The term rarely if ever appeared in print until the mid 1980s (Google Ngram)--about the time post-modernism got on its roll. The term hit the big time very suddenly. If it is a crime, it's one of great refinement -- only the most delicate, sensitive, most prepared minds are going to suffer inconvenience.

    Artists work for a living; Somebody will or has bought the painting. [EDIT: Schutz says that the painting was never and is not for sale.] Money will be exchanged. I don't think the painting is fun; I don't believe it was intended to, or accidentally did add to or subtracts from anyone's suffering.

    Till's case is worth a quick review. It's appalling.

    Lisa Whittington painted a much more compelling portrait of Emmrett Till "How She Sent Him and How She Got Him Back" here and explains what she thinks is wrong with Dana Schutz's painting. (For one, the artist was white. Oh dear.) But then, Ms. Whittington also did a painting where Emmett Till's likeness is on a wine bottle next to a wine glass. It's on par, in terms of softness, with the work of Ms. Schutz. Difference? Whittington's skin is black. (Ah, well, there you go! Now it's culturally relevant.)

    I'm pretty sure Whittington's complaint is on target that galleries and museums give scant attention to black artists. They probably don't. But the policy of Saatchi is one thing, the intent of Schutz the artist is another, and being in the show isn't a fault of the artist.
  • Cavacava
    2.4k
    I wonder about the Dana Schultz's work, I don't think it has to represent reality clearly, in the manner of the stark photo. The sheer brutality of what was done to Emmett is difficult to look at, but we are used to seeing horrendous visions of reality almost daily from the Mid-East.

    I really like "How She Sent Him and How She Got Him Back" by Lisa Whittington, it displays some of horror of what was done. It addresses the violence of the act in a way that Schultz's work does not. Perhaps the story of Emmett Till is strong enough to be interpreted in a number of different ways and in a variety of media. Here is Bob Dylan's 1962 rendition (cultural appropiation) in his ballad:
  • Bitter Crank
    7.2k
    Appropriating culture is one thing, but then performing it the way he does is enough to start a civil war. Great fingers, great lyrics, awful voice.
  • VagabondSpectre
    1.3k
    "Cultural appropriation" is such an irritating idea...

    How exactly does it cause harm?

    I guess the only possible sane answer is that theft of intellectual property steals the profits from hard working...... Cultures?.... Races?.... Murder victims?...

    It just doesn't make sense. Implying that Shutz is stealing profit from black artists (stealing profits IS the issue with intellectual property rights) also implies that the death of Emmet Till is the intellectual property of the black community rather than existing in the public domain.

    It's especially backward to be outraged over someone spreading awareness of a crime because you feel you owned the right to spread that awareness and thereby gain notoriety...
  • Bitter Crank
    7.2k
    It IS an irritating term, though it's more mystical than intellectual property rights, though that does tie in.

    The public domain is the public well, and once it's there, it's available. (I'm using public domain as just "the public" rather than 'expired copyright'.)

    I can understand people wanting to tell their own story. The Till family might legitimately feel that their story was ripped off by a movie studio, for instance, or a novelist. Especially if their experience was really distorted.

    Anything that resonates is likely to get picked up and passed around. A lot of gay stuff was picked up in the 80s, for instance, 'pink triangles'. [Variously colored triangles were used in the Nazi work and death camps to identify groups--Jews (yellow) , common criminals (black), communists (red), Christian objectors (purple) , homosexuals (pink), Gypsies (brown), and so on.] Some Jewish groups objected to gays using pink triangles because they thought it infringed on their holocaust experience. Some gay people objected to straights using pick triangles because they thought it infringed on their experience of oppression.

    There is a large net benefit to cultural appropriation: It's the means by which cultural innovation spreads. The blues, or Jazz, didn't remain a piece of black subculture because it was appropriated by white people. White people didn't "take it away from blacks" of course, and white artists didn't take anything away from black artists in the Till situation.
  • Hanover
    4.3k
    I can say for myself that prior to reading this thread, I was unaware of the Till tragedy, which means that but for Shutz' cultural appropriation or whatever it should be called, I would not now be educated. Surely there is some value in that. I say this despite the fact that Shutz' art sucks. It simply doesn't convey the horror of the event in any real way.

    On another note, I say in all my Jewishness that I welcome those of all colors and stripes to produce art depicting the horrors of the holocaust. Appropriate all you wish. I gain much comfort in knowing that someone other than Jews care about Jews.
  • TimeLine
    2.7k
    I can say for myself that prior to reading this thread, I was unaware of the Till tragedy, which means that but for Shutz' cultural appropriation or whatever it should be called, I would not now be educated. Surely there is some value in that.Hanover

    I, likewise, agree and though controversial for a number of reasons, education on the subject vis-a-vis the controversy is much more valuable. I should note, however, with:

    I welcome those of all colors and stripes to produce art depicting the horrors of the holocaust.Hanover

    You do make up a minority should you think of the Palestinian subject. I am completely neutral, anti-racist and my only concern is human rights and not politics, and having returned from Israel not too long ago, I learnt that as an outsider discussions on the subject was often viewed antagonistically, except in Tel Aviv. I care about the Jews, trust me on that, but I also care about the Palestinians. So, what does it mean to care?
  • mcdoodle
    995
    She agrees that she does not know what it is like to be black in America, but she said she does understand what is to be a mother.Cavacava

    I suppose all work about the facts of other people's lives is exploitative, but this one does look, well, exploitative, in the context of an artist who doesn't usually do politics, and whose justification is as banal as this. I liked the protester who stands in front of the picture several hours a day in a sweat shirt saying BLACK DEATH SPECTACLE.

    As an ex arty-farty myself and something of a libertarian I'm also appalled by a fellow-artist suggesting the work should be destroyed. Countering exploitation by destruction seems deeply unpleasant and uncreative to me: better the man in the shirt.
  • Cavacava
    2.4k
    Well, I've been reading and thinking about this work of art, what is meant by cultural appropiation and how art represents reality.

    While I am not a fan of the theory of authorial intent especially as it could be applied to philosophy & other works, I do think that each work of art is susceptible 1st & primarily to criticism on its own basis aside from other outside considerations. Here the problem as Hanover suggested is "It simply doesn't convey the horror of the event in any real way". The emphasis, at least for me is on the "real", to what extent a painting, song or any other work of art needs to maintain allegiance to the reality of the situation, especially any art-historical painting. Part of Picasso's genius was his ability to convey the horror of the bombing of the small town of Guernica in northern Spain by the Nazi's. He did it in a very abstract way, but it has more emotive force than any other such historical rendition has accomplished, at least over the last 100 years, if not ever.

    I really like what Cathy Young (a well know writer & feminist) has to say about this work. http://forward.com/opinion/367198/why-fury-over-emmett-till-artwork-at-whitney-biennial-is-so-dangerous/
    She points out that other works of art are similarly problematic, that the idea that you have to have same origin, background, culture, class or racial character to be able to convey feelings in empathy is specious. She noted that "“cultural appropriation” in the sense of supposedly illicit use of themes, styles, or practices from cultures not one’s own — or, at least, from the cultures of less powerful groups — is a pseudo-offense based on the pernicious idea of tribal ownership of culture."

    She also noted that
    The activists protesting a “racist” kimono exhibit in Boston in 2015 ignored the Japanese-Americans who loved it. Today, the charge against “Open Casket” is led by a Berlin-based artist born in England to an Irish-Caribbean father and a Russian Jewish refugee mother (whose probably could have told her a thing or two about the dangers of ideological diktat in art). Yet Black, whose American experience is mostly limited to two years in an art program at the Whitney, feels entitled to speak for black Americans supposedly hurt by Schutz’s work — African-Americans like Goldberg, or Michael Edgill, the 29-year-old teacher attending the exhibition who told The Daily Beast that “there’s only one race: human.”

    The issue is the fictionalization of reality. Does, can, ought any work of art come close to representing the reality it is supposed to portrait? Isn't there a danger in fictionalization of what has occurred, in that it may not convey the harshness of the reality that it's supposed to represent, instead it may suggest a stance that is far removed from being honest to its origin, as TimeLine and mcdoodle seem to suggest.
  • Hanover
    4.3k
    You do make up a minority should you think of the Palestinian subject. I am completely neutral, anti-racist and my only concern is human rights and not politics, and having returned from Israel not too long ago, I learnt that as an outsider discussions on the subject was often viewed antagonistically, except in Tel Aviv. I care about the Jews, trust me on that, but I also care about the Palestinians. So, what does it mean to care?TimeLine

    What this means is that you wish to interject a non-sequitur regarding Israeli/Palestinian relations into the question of whether one should be opposed to the Holocaust. As you may realize (but maybe not), it's entirely possible to feel unmitigated sympathy to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust and still side with the Palestinians in the current Israeli situation.

    By comparison, had someone said that they found they couldn't fully sympathize with Till because Blacks, after all, do commit a disproportionate amount of crime in society, I'd find the statement outrageously racist. By the same token, should someone say that one couldn't fully sympathize with the victims of the Holocaust due to the current state of affairs in Israel, I'd find the comment outrageously racist.

    And so, back to what I said, in the hopes that you'll clarify what appears to be anti-Semitic comment. I would embrace anyone who creates art expressing opposition to the Holocaust for their allegiance to Jews just as I would hope that African Americans would embrace those who present opposition to what happened to Till. The fact that someone might have other misgivings about Jews or Blacks notwithstanding; the fact that there was allegiance in these regards is laudable. That you might wish to say that you stand by Jews in the Holocaust, but you want to be very clear that you don't like them always, isn't terribly laudable or necessary, and it's unclear why that clarification needed to be made to my uncontroversial comments regarding the horror of the Holocaust.
  • TimeLine
    2.7k
    What this means is that you wish to interject a non-sequitur regarding Israeli/Palestinian relations into the question of whether one should be opposed to the Holocaust. As you may realize (but maybe not), it's entirely possible to feel unmitigated sympathy to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust and still side with the Palestinians in the current Israeli situation.Hanover

    Actually, no, not at all. Whoever denies the holocaust has lost his/her sense of humanity and I am offended at the suggestion. The holocaust and the victims of African American slavery both heavily involve racism, discrimination, lack of self-determination and extreme violence. Comparatively, the Palestinian situation is the same. My interjection essentially lies in the fact that should artwork depict a child who has been shot and killed in Bethlehem for throwing a stone, would you feel the same way? Judging from the tone and complete misrepresentation of my post, I can see that you would.

    And so, back to what I said, in the hopes that you'll clarify what appears to be anti-Semitic comment.Hanover
    *sigh*

    Even though I said:
    I am completely neutral, anti-racist and my only concern is human rights and not politicsTimeLine

    I would embrace anyone who creates art expressing opposition to the Holocaust. That you might wish to say that you stand by Jews in the Holocaust, but you want to be very clear that you don't like them always, isn't terribly laudable or necessary, and it's unclear why that clarification needed to be made to my uncontroversial comments regarding the horror of the Holocaust.Hanover

    Look, not sure where you jibbed expressing opposition to the Holocaust from, you've probably been involved in way too many conversations about Chomsky that you are failing to read the point I was attempting to make, but 'outsiders' speaking about Israel and Jewish history is not often welcome. As an 'outsider' - whatever that actually means - and the controversial point of this OP relating to her artwork is what I wanted to understand. This African-American man, who was beaten to death, also shows the brutality and violence of White America, which is why the artwork is controversial.

    As for not liking them always, the problem of a female 'outsider' getting involved with a Jew is a subject that hurts me as a female 'outsider', but that is a different story.
  • Baden
    7.3k
    "Cultural appropriation" is a sloppily employed term. It's in a sense the very opposite of what is a real problem, cultural domination. When a minority culture appropriates from a majority culture, that's more likely to have negative effects on the former than the latter. And when the appropriation flows the other way, it seems odd to also call it bad for the minority culture unless there is some element of exploitation, perversion, or ridicule etc. involved. In which case, it would be cultural misappropriation. Like if a majority culture were to take a native culture's sacred ceremonial dance and make it into some kind of trivial fad that served to denigrate it, that would be misappropriation. White hip hop artists and rappers on the other hand are just culturally appropriating. And then you have everything in between including this painting, which unless someone can show me how it exploits, perverts or ridicules the tragedy it depicts, I don't see a problem with.

    ("How She Sent Him and How She Got Him Back" is a much better work of art though imo).
  • Hanover
    4.3k
    Even though I said:
    I am completely neutral, anti-racist and my only concern is human rights and not politics
    — TimeLine
    TimeLine

    I realize you self declared this, but I was questioning it obviously. All I said in my post was that I'd stand by those who stood by me in their opposition to the holocaust, and you then started talking about injustice in Palestine. If you can't see why that might be construed as anti-Semitic, then maybe think a little deeper. If a Muslim were beaten to death for being Muslim and a Muslim poster expressed gratitude for non-Muslim support for the victim, do you think me bringing up the topic of Muslim terrorism would be in order? Do you really think it'd matter if I just said "Oh btw I'm not racist, so don't take this the wrong way"?
  • TimeLine
    2.7k
    I realize you self declared this, but I was questioning it obviously. All I said in my post was that I'd stand by those who stood by me in their opposition to the holacaust, and you then started talking about injustice in Palestine. If you can't see why that might be construed as anti-Semetic, then maybe think a little deeper.Hanover
    Sorry buddy, it was your so-called 'deep thinking' that led to an accusation of anti-Semitism and holocaust denial. If you cannot see just how ridiculous you were, I suggest you take some multivitamins or whatever that may assist in better cognitive function.

    If a Muslim were beaten to death for being Muslim and a Muslim poster expressed gratitude for non-Muslim support for the victim, do you think me bringing up the topic of Muslim terrorism would be in order? Do you really think it'd matter if I just said "Oh btw I'm not racist, so don't take this the wrong way"?Hanover
    Perhaps, but take a look at it from my perspective. I told you that I just came back from Israel and that contrary to your opinion would not be the case for many others; in line of the OP that meant that there is reason behind the controversy she is experiencing. Spitting out venomous notions of 'anti-Semitism' and holocaust denial to anything and everything is embarrassing and shameful.
  • Hanover
    4.3k
    Spitting out venomous notions of 'anti-Semitism' and holocaust denial to anything and everything is embarrassing and shamefulTimeLine

    Why are we now talking about holocaust denial? I don't remember that accusation being made. I also don't recall accusing anyone of ant-Semitism for anything and everything. I accused you specifically of it because you were. It was just an observation.

    What happened is that I noted an instance of unambiguous Jewish victimization and you felt it necessary to insert an instance where you felt Jews were oppressors as if it added anything at all to the conversation.
  • TimeLine
    2.7k
    Schultz denies that it was her reason for the creation and she says she will never sell it. She agrees that she does not know what it is like to be black in America, but she said she does understand what is to be a mother.Cavacava

    I apologise for the digression in your thread. I have a hard time understanding how particular people must have authority on a subject based on their personal experience or relationship. I am not a mother, does that mean that I would not feel or understand the sadness the image of that young boy would convey? Does that lessen my authority? If the artist was African-American, would that enable her the right? This kind of thinking is regularly and rather fallaciously used and I am intrigued that the community reacted in such a negative way towards her. Setting aside cultural appropriation, I am of the opinion it was because of the message that it was sending, the horror of a historical reality where the aesthetic medium is preferred not be used to convey such a message. A painting, basically, is not doing the horror justice, nor the victim or the history. It is not enough.

    In addition, art is also desirable, beautiful. It is a movement, perhaps, to challenge that stereotype. Her brush strokes - so thick and almost distorted - I feel is a great depiction of the confusion I felt when I saw the image, almost like I quickly looked away because of the abhorrence and her image represents that quickness. But, it is also colourful. The picture is not and that representation - whilst perhaps showing love - is probably not appropriate.
  • TimeLine
    2.7k
    I also don't recall accusing anyone of ant-Semitism for anything and everything. I accused you specifically of it because you were. It was just an observation.Hanover
    How was I anti-semitic? By saying that you are in a minority of Jewish people who would appreciate art that depicts the holocaust from those who are non-Jewish? I will concede, my response lacked clarity on a touchy subject that causes reactions and I should have been more vigilant, but blimey, I never anticipated your reaction. When people like you assume such negative opinions and rather immediately throw out the term 'anti-Semitic' for an unjustified cause, it is accusing anyone for anything and everything. You didn't think your accusation through and even you were aware of your doubts, so nice try.

    What happened is that I noted an instance of unambiguous Jewish victimization and you felt it necessary to insert an instance where you felt Jews were oppressors as if it added anything at all to the conversation.Hanover
    No, you mentioned art depiction of Jewish victimisation by non-Jewish artists and how you would welcome it, and I responded by saying you are in a minority. I knew it was a touchy thing to say, so I tried to clarify by showing that I experienced some negative reactions as a neutral outsider. I never said Jews were oppressors and this is precisely the purpose of my initial post, that sensitive topics always bring out and highlight reactions such as yours. You can assume my saying I am neutral and a human rights advocate that does not involve herself in politics to be merely a tool to covert my anti-semitism, but you are a fool for thinking that. End of story.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.2k
    The issue is the fictionalization of reality. Does, can, ought any work of art come close to representing the reality it is supposed to portrait? Isn't there a danger in fictionalization of what has occurred, in that it may not convey the harshness of the reality that it's supposed to represent, instead it may suggest a stance that is far removed from being honest to its origin, as TimeLine and mcdoodle seem to suggest.Cavacava

    The "meaning" which lies within a work of art is often vague, ambiguous, or obscure, art often being of an abstract nature. The meaning is a representation of the artist's intent, what was meant by the artist. I don't think it is appropriate, or correct, to say that the meaning of the art is a "fictionalization of reality", it is more like an obscured reality. The artist may take a little piece of reality and, with the use of obscurity, attempt to create a wide range of meaning from that little piece of reality. Through the use of obscurity, the artist allows one's own intentions to be interpreted in many different ways. What the art means to me, and what the art means to you, may be completely different, due to that use of obscurity.

    I think that in the exemplified case, the criticism is based in the fact that the art obscures the importance of that little piece of reality which it represents. So to the ones whom that piece of reality is extremely important, it belittles that importance. The point is that the artist can take that piece of reality which is intensely meaningful to a small group of people, distort it with ambiguity, and present it in a way which is somewhat meaningful to a large group of people. To argue that this is a bad thing to do is to argue that art is bad.
  • Cavacava
    2.4k
    The "meaning" which lies within a work of art is often vague, ambiguous, or obscure, art often being of an abstract nature. The meaning is a representation of the artist's intent, what was meant by the artist. I don't think it is appropriate, or correct, to say that the meaning of the art is a "fictionalization of reality", it is more like an obscured reality. The artist may take a little piece of reality and, with the use of obscurity, attempt to create a wide range of meaning from that little piece of reality. Through the use of obscurity, the artist allows one's own intentions to be interpreted in many different ways. What the art means to me, and what the art means to you, may be completely different, due to that use of obscurity.



    "...Cleanth Brooks, W. K. Wimsatt, T. S. Eliot, and others, argued that authorial intent is irrelevant to understanding a work of literature. Wimsatt and Monroe Beardsley argue in their essay "The Intentional Fallacy" that "the design or intention of the author is neither available nor desirable as a standard for judging the success of a work of literary art."[/quote] Wikipedia

    And I agree that first and foremost a work of art must stand on its own, it must be aesthetically valuable in-itself. (I am not sold on the intentional fallacy, but I agree with them this far). What a work means as you indicate may be abstract and obscure, but that is not what draws us to the work. What draws us to it is its aesthetic, the affect of its surface. The "meaning" of a work of art is I think secondary, and perhaps incidental to its affect, to its aesthetic. Music can be an example of pure affect.

    The artistic portrayal of reality must be fictive, it is not the actual experience, not the actual apple, not the actual body in the casket, but rather the way or manner of narrative that enables a unique view of reality. The problem with this is that the aesthetic itself can be bias, prejudice, unjust, but very effective in seducing its viewers/readers/hearers by its affect, which is why propaganda (and rhetoric) can be powerful.
  • Cavacava
    2.4k


    Of course we would not have a culture if not for cultural appropiation.

    Why do you say:

    ("How She Sent Him and How She Got Him Back" is a much better work of art though imo

    Can you explain why this is so. I think Lisa Whittington's painting is much closer to conveying the horrendous brutality of what happened to Emmett Till, for sure. But I like what TimeLine says about Schultz's painting:

    In addition, art is also desirable, beautiful. It is a movement, perhaps, to challenge that stereotype. Her brush strokes - so thick and almost distorted - I feel is a great depiction of the confusion I felt when I saw the image, almost like I quickly looked away because of the abhorrence and her image represents that quickness. But, it is also colourful. The picture is not and that representation - whilst perhaps showing love - is probably not appropriate.

    Perhaps Schultz's painting depicts the mother's view of her son, where he remained beautiful to her in spite of his brutal disfigurement, and horrendous death. She sees past the surface disfigurement to her remembrance of her son is all his innocence, the smiling boy we see in the photo prior to this heinous act. The passionately colored flower, symbolizing love.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.2k
    What a work means as you indicate may be abstract and obscure, but that is not what draws us to the work. What draws us to it is its aesthetic, the affect of its surface. The "meaning" of a work of art is I think secondary, and perhaps incidental to its affect, to its aesthetic. Music can be an example of pure affect.Cavacava

    I think it's not so easy to separate the meaning from the aesthetic. When we look at art, we take it for granted that it was created by an artist, so that premise of meaning is inherent within the aesthetic of the art. I don't know about you, but I look at a natural beauty in a completely different way from an artificial beauty, because the skill and technique of the artist is always in my mind when I look at art. I'm usually looking at "what the artist did" so I'm looking more at the meaning than at the aesthetic. Being a musician myself, I find this to be especially the case with music, so your example is lost on me.

    The artistic portrayal of reality must be fictive, it is not the actual experience, not the actual apple, not the actual body in the casket, but rather the way or manner of narrative that enables a unique view of reality. The problem with this is that the aesthetic itself can be bias, prejudice, unjust, but very effective in seducing its viewers/readers/hearers by its affect, which is why propaganda (and rhetoric) can be powerful.Cavacava

    In most cases, I don't think an artist is trying to portray reality, so art in general is neither actual nor fictive, it's something completely different. The more abstract the art is, the more "different" it is. The "affect" which you refer to is just what the individuals of the audience get out of the art. So it's not the case that the artist is actively seducing you, you are allowing yourself to be "affected". You do not have to allow yourself to be so affected, you can ignore the art. Think of a logical argument, if it's very bad, you will not be affected by it at all, but if it's good, you may be affected by it. Even if it's good though, you can still choose to ignore it.
  • TimeLine
    2.7k
    Perhaps Schultz's painting depicts the mother's view of her son, where he remained beautiful to her in spite of his brutal disfigurement, and horrendous death. She sees past the surface disfigurement to her remembrance of her son is all his innocence, the smiling boy we see in the photo prior to this heinous act. The passionately colored flower, symbolizing love.Cavacava
    I assumed that the colours symbolised innocence just like the little girl in the red dress in Schindlers List. A child-like purity. But the difference is that symbol was represented in the moving image because it ameliorated the horror surrounding her symbol - that all the victims were innocent as she was - which is why paintings may be inadequate when discussing such horrors and the impact the violence has not just to the victim and his family, but to all those who belong within the social and political problem itself. It is no longer about the victim and thus more than just a mothers love in the eyes of those who claim authority.

    For me, though, a mother's love represents unconditional love and I believe this even though I never had a mother, because I feel that way, always. I teared up when I saw the photo, but I know that the best way to remember victims of heinous crimes is to remember them and not the criminal.
  • Moliere
    1.6k
    I found myself agreeing with that Lisa Whittington interview you posted. I think she said it right.
  • Cavacava
    2.4k
    I think it's not so easy to separate the meaning from the aesthetic. When we look at art, we take it for granted that it was created by an artist, so that premise of meaning is inherent within the aesthetic of the art. I don't know about you, but I look at a natural beauty in a completely different way from an artificial beauty, because the skill and technique of the artist is always in my mind when I look at art. I'm usually looking at "what the artist did" so I'm looking more at the meaning than at the aesthetic. Being a musician myself, I find this to be especially the case with music, so your example is lost on me.

    Art's aesthetic draws us to the work, the work's matter by way of its form strikes us (or not) as part of narratives that we understand. The value we give to of a work of art lies is in how we experience that work, which can be intimated but not fully explicated. I think great art has an enigmatic aspect, a remainder, something which can't be explained. At the same time our experience of a work of art follows the coherence and logic of the work, regardless of the intent of the artist.

    I think all man made beauty depends upon natural beauty, aspires to natural beauty, is the mimesis of natural beauty. Music seems to me to be able to convey a sense of pure emotion and that's what I was getting at.

    In most cases, I don't think an artist is trying to portray reality, so art in general is neither actual nor fictive, it's something completely different. The more abstract the art is, the more "different" it is. The "affect" which you refer to is just what the individuals of the audience get out of the art. So it's not the case that the artist is actively seducing you, you are allowing yourself to be "affected". You do not have to allow yourself to be so affected, you can ignore the art. Think of a logical argument, if it's very bad, you will not be affected by it at all, but if it's good, you may be affected by it. Even if it's good though, you can still choose to ignore it.

    I disagree to the extent that whatever the work portrays is its reality, how it communicates and what it has to say is largely derivative of the society and culture that nurtured the artist. A good argument can be wrong, it can be knowingly wrong as in sophistry.
  • Moliere
    1.6k
    I have to admit that the remark on Palestine did seem to come out of the blue, to me.

    And I am not a-political or neutral on that topic :D.

    There is very much a difference between the state of Israel, and Jewish ethnicity. And it doesn't seem to respond to @Hanover 's point -- that he would welcome anyone who wishes to express compassion towards Jewish people regardless of there ethnicity by making art about the Holocaust. So it should be viewed as a good thing, at least in a moral dimension even if the art fails at what it intends.

    Whether someone is consistent or not with respect to other political topics is a bit off the beaten path, no?

    I mean, I don't even know @Hanover 's stance on that issue -- but I do know that we can't blame the Jews for the actions of Israel, or even equate the two (many Jews are anti-apartheid, after all), and that whatever faults Israel may have it doesn't make sense to, immediately in response to the Holocaust, to bring up those faults. And I have to admit that though I do not think you intended this, that one fair interpretation was that Jews are to blame for the suffering of Palestinians and therefore we shouldn't have compassion for the Holocaust. I don't think you believe this -- but as you note, it's a sensitive topic. And with sensitive topics we tend to jump to the worst in others (sadly, with respect to race relations, because the worst is so often right).

    While that is one fair interpretation I thought this is what you basically were saying: If we believe minorities, in general, shouldn't be persecuted for their minority status then as Palestinians are a minority then we should also believe, and stand with, them for the persecutions they suffer under the state of Israel. But, when visiting Israel, you were viewed as an outsider who shouldn't express these sorts of things or have an opinion on the matter because you are an outsider. So, while some jews might welcome people who express compassion for our pain, it seemed that some jews didn't want that same interaction when it came to their faults. So you would question Hanover on whether he is consistent on this point -- does he welcome outsider's only with respect to the past, or are outsiders always welcome?


    But that's just a rough guess on my part. I'd welcome clarification or remonstration if I am wrong.

    I do think that the ethics of insider/outsider is worth exploring. But maybe the Palestinian-Israeli conflict isn't the best ground in which to explore it?
  • TimeLine
    2.7k
    And I have to admit that though I do not think you intended this, that one fair interpretation was that Jews are to blame for the suffering of Palestinians and therefore we shouldn't have compassion for the Holocaust.Moliere
    No, the point is, however, that the Jews are sensitive to anything about the topic of Israel and Palestine together with the Holocaust and the concept of 'outsiders' is fairly strong, which is why I mentioned that he was in the minority. I agree that I perhaps was not clear, but my recent experience in the country made me think that - like the OP - controversy around the artist not being African-American and therefore not having the authority to paint the subject would be the same in Israeli culture, which is tied closely to the Holocaust. To be called anti-Semitic for saying that? That is just insane, whether what I said was out of the blue or not.

    As for your interpretation, no, but I do see your point. I support Palestine, but it doesn't mean that I hate the Jews or Israel but every time I mention something about Palestine, the same reaction comes up. The one Hanover had, the incorrect interpretation you made, being called anti-Semitic. If I said I was in a relationship with an Israeli Jew, if I were Jewish myself, if I lived in Israel, would that reaction have been made? That is because I am an 'outsider' so if I were to depict anything about their history including the holocaust, it would be viewed with suspicion.

    It doesn't help that there are so many horrible people who deny the holocaust, but even so, does that mean that I am not allowed to say that there are also many Israelis that deny anything bad going on in Palestine too, unless I am a holocaust-denier, anti-semite? In Palestine, the same sensitivity causes reactions when I mention Israel. I feel so sandwiched as a white, Western woman who will apparently never understand both of them and so I should just keep my mouth shut. Revisionist Zionism. PNA. Both do the same thing.

    I do think that the ethics of insider/outsider is worth exploring. But maybe the Palestinian-Israeli conflict isn't the best ground in which to explore it?Moliere
    I think it is, only because of the above mentioned complexity and sensitivity, but certainly it must be carefully explored. Clarity that I am not anti-Semitic would need to be understood and avoided. Otherwise, certainly, the subject frustrates me on many fronts. Including, for instance, appreciating the philosophy of authors who are 'bad' and so, though they write really good theories, because they have done bad things in their life, their authority on the subject is shaken.
  • Hanover
    4.3k
    No, the point is, however, that the Jews are sensitive to anything about the topic of Israel and Palestine together with the Holocaust and the concept of 'outsiders' is fairly strong, which is why I mentioned that he was in the minority.TimeLine
    The reason for sensitivity among Jews for issues related to the Holocaust isn't complicated and ought to be screamingly obvious. The reasons you are being treated as an outsider and not as a fellow Jew are admittedly vast, but, to the extent you lack empathy for the Jews for what occurred during the Holocaust, that will keep you more securely outside than everyone else.

    There are specific and general reasons your comments appear extremely anti-semitic. 1.
    Specifically, the Palestinians, even if considered wholly right and unfairly oppressed by the Israelis, are not experiencing systematic slaughter with an express aim to eliminate them genetically. They are not placed in workcamps and forced to labor until death. They are not starved to death and thrown into mass graves. That is, should I accept the Palestinian position in its most extreme form, the Holocaust is disanalagous as a matter of historical fact. That you can't see that says to me that your empathy toward Jews is minimal.

    2. Generally, many minorities have experienced horrible events during their history that define that group to an extent - blacks and slavery, Native Americans and displacement, Jews and the Holocaust and many many more. Each group rightly believes their suffering incomparable (quite literally so). That is, that suffering is so extreme that it is unique. If you want to raise some ire, do as you did, and compare it to other moments of suffering. If you compare someone's incomperable suffering to anything, you won't be well received, especially when that comparison is so very tenuous, as in comparing Palestinian treatment by Jews to Jewish treatment by the Nazis.
  • Baden
    7.3k
    Can you explain why this is so. I think Lisa Whittington's painting is much closer to conveying the horrendous brutality of what happened to Emmett Till, for sureCavacava

    Well, you answered it yourself. That aspect is salient for me. Of course, I may be missing something in Shulz's painting, but I just don't feel it.
  • TimeLine
    2.7k
    1.
    Specifically, the Palestinians, even if considered wholly right and unfairly oppressed by the Israelis, are not experiencing systematic slaughter with an express aim to eliminate them genetically. They are not placed in workcamps and forced to labor until death. They are not starved to death and thrown into mass graves. That is, should I accept the Palestinian position in its most extreme form, the Holocaust is disanalagous as a matter of historical fact. That you can't see that says to me that your empathy toward Jews is minimal.
    Hanover

    Absolutely; it is incomprehensible to form an analogous view between the two as the holocaust is unequivocally brutal vis-a-vis genocide, but this is not a comparative. It is unfair on Jews and Israelis to brush aside the horrors of the holocaust because of current political activities as much as it is to brush aside the devastation and difficulties experienced currently by Palestinians. But, that was never my point. My point still - which you continue to ignore - is about you being in the minority when it comes to appreciating outsider' expression of that brutality. If I do something that may slightly be misinterpreted, I am immediately guilty.

    You assume that there was a comparative, which is still nothing short of your own injecting or presumption into the argument. That is, somehow there was a comparative between the current plight of Palestinians and the experience of Jews in the holocaust; that was and remains your own presumption, but again, I can understand why you made it. But, I wonder whether you would have made it had I said I was Jewish living in Israel rather than a human rights activist who is politically neutral?
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.2k
    Art's aesthetic draws us to the work, the work's matter by way of its form strikes us (or not) as part of narratives that we understand. The value we give to of a work of art lies is in how we experience that work, which can be intimated but not fully explicated. I think great art has an enigmatic aspect, a remainder, something which can't be explained. At the same time our experience of a work of art follows the coherence and logic of the work, regardless of the intent of the artist.Cavacava

    I agree that there is something about a work of art, which draws us toward it. I wouldn't say it's the aesthetic though, because "aesthetic" already implies a judgement of beauty or ugly. So I would say that something "strikes" us, it's striking. To take your example of music, you hear something and it attracts your attention, but right away, you may have made a judgement of whether or not you like it. The judgement is based on aesthetic value, but you do not necessarily make such a judgement. You may just hear the music and think, well this is different, and I don't really know if I like it or not. Then you are struck without judging the aesthetic.

    Therefore we can remove aesthetics from the first impression, and aesthetics can be associated with meaning, it is part of the judgement we pass, beautiful, or ugly. Consider the painting of the op. The use of colours and patterns strikes you, and you are inclined toward thinking that there is some beauty there. But when you are informed about what it represents, you realize that there is massive ugliness hidden under that apparent aesthetic beauty. Then to represent this ugliness with even a hint of aesthetic attraction appears to be severely wrong.

    I disagree to the extent that whatever the work portrays is its reality, how it communicates and what it has to say is largely derivative of the society and culture that nurtured the artist. A good argument can be wrong, it can be knowingly wrong as in sophistry.Cavacava

    You seem to not be realizing the fact that good art need not "portray" anything. The art work is a creative piece, it is made to "be" something, on its own, something stand alone, a piece of art. This is the reality of the art work. You cannot say that what it portrays is the reality, because it's not necessarily meant to portray anything, it is meant to "be" something. What it "communicates", is entirely a function of the audience, what "I get from it". That the artist intends to communicate is only true so far as the artist attempts to portray something. If the artist is attempting to portray something, then this may be, as you say derivative of the artist's society and culture. But I think it is wrong to look at any piece of art with the perspective of "what does the work portray", because the primary intention of the artist is to create something, not to portray something.
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