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death as art

death as art

There's art and then there's art. Stacy has a lively discussion going on at her blog about the wretched statue that sat at Rockefeller Center yesterday. I won't reiterate my thoughts about it here, you can read them there.

Now comes Gail Haffern, an New Zealand artist who sees the September 11 attacks as "wonderful."

"Four planes? I thought it was an extraordinary idea to do this, somebody declaring war against the mightiest country that has ever existed with one of its own peacetime machines. Looking at this, and being an artist, I thought what if this had been a performance piece and Osama bin Laden had declared himself an artist, how would the world have seen it then?....

"I'm saying, step away from blame. How are we to act if we act only according to blame? So many of us just think and squeal, think and squeal. This act is done and you can't fault the execution of the act. It was perfect, extraordinarily clever."

Well, generally speaking, performance artists don't normally kill thousands of people for their art, so the question of what we would have thought had bin Laden been an artist is pretty much moot.

Blame...accusation...how can we be free of these things when thinking of that day? Of course there is someone to blame. Of course there are people to accuse. Would you view a typical street murder the same way? Would you say that we should look at it without blame and accusation and perhaps look at it as a wonderful piece of performance art?

So why, when thousands of people are killed at once at the hands of a hateful, sick group of militants, should we not place blame or accuse?

[Haffern] pulls out a centrefold [of a book about the Trade Center], the towers bathed in sun like two pieces of burnished gold. "Playboy, eat your heart out," she says. "Look at this for aesthetics," before turning to pages of the buildings coming down, falling bodies twisting through the air.

Maybe I am too dense to get it. Perhaps I am culturally illiterate or the meaning of what is art escapes me. I do not look at people leaping to their death and see a lesson in aesthetics.

Haffern created a sculpture to commemorate the events of September 11.

Small signs within the [sculpture] display words such as "No Sides", Not False", "Not Equal", while a cluster of 25 polished aluminium blocks beneath it also have words on them in gold leaf: Pentagone, Chequemate, and so on.

"The installation is definitely not a political statement - it asks the viewer to take a new position free of accusation and prejudice to view the acts of September 11 with a sense of amazement...."

Right now I am viewing this artist with a sense of horrified amazement, tinged with disgust and disdain.

update: Stacy and I have decided to take the first plane out to New Zealand, find this woman and throw her out of the window of a very tall building. Then we will record the act on film strictly for its aesthetic value.

link via instapundit

Comments

Actually, we'll have to go to New Zealand to get her but I'm willing to stop in Australia first, you know, hit the talk show circuit, promote the thing for Pay-Per-View...

jesus, you're good.

I changed my error. I apologize to the people of Australia, except for Geoff because he owes me an email.

I'd still like to do the talk-show circuit, though.

Let me know where I can donate money for your plane tickets.

Can I come too?

So, do I credit you or blame you for my own exploration into "tasteless" memorials based on this Fisking of the Kiwi artist's insipid comments?

What if someone took a model of one of the towers before it was destroyed and shoved it right down her throat. Would that be considered art, or porn, or both?

HEADLINE: Artist Who Noted 'Beauty' Of Death Deep-Throats Model. More Details As They Emerge.

Yeah, I know that's pretty cold and unfeeling of me and all, but heavens to mergatroid, 3,000 people die, and not only is she making a mockery of it, she's suggesting "The Great Satan" that the US is not look to place blame?

Lar, I'll take both credit and blame. Cause I am all about placing blame.

Carey, I love it when you talk dirty.

What a fucking idiot! If you need help tossing her off a building, give me a call.

"Playboy, eat your heart out..."

If you time the defenestration just right with the plane, you could get penetration shots.

"death as art"

Death has been an aspect of art since man first started creating imagery. "Art" depicting hunts, wars, death rituals, sacrifices, etc., have been part of nearly every culture (past and present) on the planet.

You decry Eric Fischl's "Tumbling Woman" as a "wretched statue", and yet, in Christian art, a horrific scene of torture and death is the icon of the religion for many. The dying Jesus, nailed to a crucifix, stabbed in the side, you don't find that wretched, horrific? Should the artists from that time forward be condemned because they chose to depict THAT graphic scene? I suppose you can't see why an artist might choose THAT scene over another. Perhaps BECAUSE of its impact, not in spite of it. It elicits emotion.

"Tumbling Woman" does the same thing. It's not the statue or the artist that's the problem. Why are you so offended by the scene? Can't it be viewed from the perspective that this is what some of those poor innocents were forced to. That it is just such a scene that can spark sadness and empathy for them in their vulnerability, and anger for those that forced this decision upon those people. Why does it have to be blasphemous?

Some artists view life as art being displayed on the universal canvas. Beauty can be seen and found in the most horrific things. There is the beauty of a lion making a kill and the aesthetic perfection in which it does so, which is no different than the the perfection of foam forming on waves. Nothing is out of place.

There is the horrifying beauty of the mushroom cloud formed by an atomic bomb explosion which is no less aesthetically beautiful than regular clouds which never seem to make a displeasing shape. There is even a quiet beauty in the disturbing photo of the self-immolation of Thich Quang Duc.

To some artists it is the natural/unnatural nature of the world around them which is just so stunningly beautiful. The artful way that which nature horrifies or pleases us. Some artists make no judgements on what fills them with a sense of wonderment.

Perhaps your sensibilities and sense of taste would prefer twin sunflowers with a circle of children dancing around them (done in bronze of course).

You state:

"Maybe I am too dense to get it. Perhaps I am culturally illiterate or the meaning of what is art escapes me. I do not look at people leaping to their death and see a lesson in aesthetics."

I would say you simply have a different way of seeing the world around you, no less valid than Haffern's. What is a shame is it seems you can't allow her to see what she wants in the world around her (or recreate it, or talk about it) without wanting to impose what you think she ought to see.

Art exists in its present form to allow you to see/view/hear/experience things differently than you normally would. Sometimes it's meant to challenge you to let go of your own tightly held veiwpoint of what it is you see/hear/feel. It's one of the things that only art can do.

You decry Eric Fischl's "Tumbling Woman" as a "wretched statue", and yet, in Christian art, a horrific scene of torture and death is the icon of the religion for many. The dying Jesus, nailed to a crucifix, stabbed in the side, you don't find that wretched, horrific?

How do you know I don't find that horrific? In fact, I have stated as much on this site that I think it is, indeed, a horrific image.

Why are you so offended by the scene?
Maybe for the same reason you are not offended. Because we all see, feel and experience things in different ways.

Perhaps your sensibilities and sense of taste would prefer twin sunflowers with a circle of children dancing around them (done in bronze of course).

Interesting that you can analyze my tastes by my one post that says I didn't like a statue of a dying woman.

What is a shame is it seems you can't allow her to see what she wants in the world around her (or recreate it, or talk about it) without wanting to impose what you think she ought to see.

I took more issue of her flippant remarks regarding the entire scenario than in her art.

Interesting that you can analyze her after one article conatining a few flippant remarks.

Where did I analyze her? What I did was take her remarks and analyze my own feelings about her.

Oh wait, so what you're saying is you analyzed your feelings and found that you need to, "...throw her out of the window of a very tall building."

It's no reflection on how you view her of course.

Yea, there's no getting around it. I view her as an insensitive, self-important, pretentious bitch. No analyzation needed for me to come up with my feelings on that.

Michael, there is not always a whole lot of understanding in the world. Not everybody will appreciate what the artist from New Sealand has to say. I'm sure you will agree with me that she would make a very pretty picture as she falls from a tall building after being pushed by Sekimori and Michele. And if you don't agree with me, she probably would. Hell, those two ladies would probably be helping her to complete her greatest work!

Michael, there is not always a whole lot of understanding in the world. Not everybody will appreciate what the artist from New Sealand has to say. I'm sure you will agree with me that she would make a very pretty picture as she falls from a tall building after being pushed by Sekimori and Michele. And if you don't agree with me, she probably would. Hell, those two ladies would probably be helping her to complete her greatest work!

Hey, let's throw Michael out, too...it'll be a masterpiece!!!

Ed. The preceding message was performance art and in no way can be construed as a threat to do bodily harm to anyone. Thank you, have a nice day.

"Hey, let's throw Michael out, too...it'll be a masterpiece!!!"

Of course your free to do that. And I would be free to stop you if I chose to.

"I'm sure you will agree with me that she would make a very pretty picture..."

She would make a perfect picture. Whether that picture was pretty or not is subjective, but either way it would be perfect.

I view her as an insensitive, self-important, pretentious bitch.

That's fine, but my question is why? Because you don't like the way she thinks? You yourself said:

"...we all see, feel and experience things in different ways."

But I take it you'd prefer not to be challenged by someone who sees, feels, and experiences things differently than you do? Perhaps you'd like to ban all those people who don't think as you do.

Maybe you don't mind people thinking differently, you'd just rather not be exposed to it. Instead, maybe it might be easier to restrict what people say so that no one ever has to hear an ugly word, or be privy to an offensive thought. We can take all the really offensive and stupid magazines, newspapers, and books and put them in a back room so that no one has to be offended by them. If someone wants to read one, all they have to do is ask for it. It wouldn't really be curtailing anyone's freedom of speech, but this way the general public doesn't have to risk being offended. Actually, I'm sure there's a nice dark corner we can find to hide all the ugliness in the world so that no one ever need experience it again.

But now, whose version of ugliness do we use? Whose moral compass shall we rely on to steer us clear of all the stupidity in the world? I mean, there must be only one true and correct way to think, right?

You all worn out from jumping to conclusions, Michael. I'm not even going to bother taking apart your comment piece by piece. You need only to look at my banned books project to see how very wrong you are about me.

You have taken such a wide leap in thought here that I can't even keep up with you. From my statement that I think this one particular artist is insensitive and pretentious (and her pretentious attitude has nothing to do with her art, it's just the personality vibe I got from her), you have concluded that I want to ban thoughts, make everyone think the same way and censor the world.

Chill out, Michael. You are so off base it's almost funny.

It's true, Michael. You're making a mountain out of a molehill all in the name of trolling...how's your hitcount these days?

Michele posted her thoughts on something she considers reprehensible and you disagreed, which is fine and could have led to an interesting discussion. But you were condescending and snide, two things that bring out the very worst in strong, outspoken women. Anadvocacy is not unwelcome, rudeness most certainly is.

"...in the name of trolling..."

"But you were condescending and snide..."

"...rudeness most certainly is."

Please point out where I was any of the above.

I am simply questioning someone on a topic I find interesting and of a dichotomy which michele has yet to address.

My points address not only what was said here, but what michele has said elswhere on the topic. To quote:

"To leave it out there where people are forced to see it demeans the artistic merit of it, it becomes a message, a statement, or a harrowing reminder for those who do not yet want to be reminded. Put it somewhere where if people want to see the statue, they can go specifically to see it. Forcing controversial art upon people only diminishes the efforts of artists."

Posted by: michele
September 19, 2002 08:41 AM

michele, Banned Book Project or no, the above statement is as much a part of my questioning remarks as anything you've said here. You might notice the use of 'perhaps' and 'maybe' in all my remarks denoting my questioning attitude. I've jumped to no conclusions, made no blanket statements about you, but only questioned where your mindset is based on statements you made, which I read.

I suggest you take your own advice, chill out, and read what I wrote again.

I don't find I'm off base at all, which is why I keep asking the same question. Two artists, in differing ways, have seemed to upset you, and your reaction is to either get rid of them totally (throw her out of the window of a very tall building), or to tuck the controversy away in some safe environment (Put it somewhere where if people want to see the statue, they can go specifically to see it). You don't find this contradictory to your BBP stance?

You're latest post in the BBP:

"Just find a book that has been banned or challenged that you have read and in one sentence, convince someone else to read it."

Lets rewrite it shall we?

Just find a sculpture that has been banned or challenged that you have seen and in one sentence, convince someone else to see it.

It seems (seems to me that what you've said regarding the Eric Fischl sculpture, and Gail Haffern, is in direct conflict with what I would think is the ideology behind the BBP. I mean, again, if it's ok to say:

"Put it somewhere where if people want to see the statue, they can go specifically to see it. Forcing controversial art upon people only diminishes the efforts of artists."

then why can't I apply that same reasoning to books? It sounds an awful lot like challenging and banning to me. Why force controversial literature (art) on people, right? Where did my questions in previous comments to you veer from your stated opinion?

Unless you mean, "With the exception of literature, we should put all the controversial art someplace where people have to specifically choose to go and experience it."

Oh by the way, Stacy, my hitcount is doing just fine. Thanks for asking.

So you don't think in any way that the timing and placing of that sculpture was insensitive? Not in the least?

This debate (regarding the falling woman) did not start out on a debate about art. At least not from my point of view. It was about the nature of the piece of art and the way it was thrown in the face of the very people who are still suffering from the aftermath of September 11.

On the subject of the woman from New Zealand, again, it was about sensitivity and empathy.

And please, stop harping on that throwing her out the window thing. It was meant figuratively, of course. It was the way I expressed my feelings on the subject. Don't like the way I showed my expression?