Right Wing Ignores Facts, Bullies Smithsonian

Aaron Cynic writes at Diatribe Media:

In an age where 70 percent of U.S. troops believe Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell should be repealed, where their superiors also agree such a discriminatory policy should be removed, where another state has approved civil unions – radical right wing conservatives found a new way to attempt to demonize gays and lesbians. Even though the GOP majority in the House stated they would block legislation on such trivial matters as DATA until our tanking economy was addressed, John Boehner still found time to help the right strong arm the Smithsonian into removing artwork from a gay artist they deemed an “assault to the sensibilities of Christians.”

The offensive assault on Christian sensibilities centers on an exhibit called Hide/Seek, which contains a video depicting Christ on the cross with ants crawling on Him. The intent of the artist was to “depict the suffering of an AIDS victim,” something sadly apparently lost on its detractors.

Read the full post at Diatribe Media

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  • Cerebralcaustic

    Right wing ignores facts?

    You might want to familiarize yourself with the Sokal Hoax, where (leftist) physicist Alan Sokal wrote a 100% pseudoscientific nonsensical paper that was published by Duke University’s “Social Texts” journal because it “(a) it sounded good and (b) it flattered the editors’ ideological preconceptions.” Afterwords, Sokal asked, “Why should the right wing be allowed to monopolize the intellectual high ground?”

    My point is not that “the right wing” is always correct (certainly not), but that “the left wing” is just as guilty as foolishness and foibles and has no inherent moral or intellectual authority.

  • Ironaddict06

    Come on-this is art? Having ants crawl on Jesus and the cross is considered good art? So I will be considered a great artist if I get a picture of Mary and have bugs crawl on it? Where are the artist of our time that will be compared to Da Vinci, Picasso, Degas, Giotto, Holbein, and other great artist? These people think they are raging against the machine. If they really have JUEVOS try doing this Muhammed.

    • Andrew

      Bad art is still art.

    • Daolsarge

      I dare you to put a copy of the statue of David on the dashboard of your car or on your desk at work.

    • Liam_McGonagle

      But I think you may be missing the point here. Bill Donohue, that canker-sore of a Catholic League chief made the same argument you have here, and I’ll explain why it’s wrong: Government’s role is to do what the markets cannot.

      Our Founding Fathers (you know the ones, long hair tied in ribbons, wore silk knee britches, etc.), they recognized that a diet of ho-ho’s and ding-dongs is not healthy, and similarly there are somethings that a society MUST do that are not adequately supported by the self-centered perspective of stubbornly subjective preferences. Roads and bridges need to be built, the common defense has to be provided for, etc., etc. And one of those things is the creation of an environment that can foster deep, critically challenging art that fosters debate.

      So to say that this art would not be successful in the plastic-fantastic world of dull Rotary-Club wankers is not exactly a revelation–or even a contradiction of the premise that the institutions receive grants under. In fact, it’s a reinforcement.

    • Haystack

      Yes, that’s definitely art. Mind you, I’ve been very critical of other so-called artists who have desecrated religious icons as a cheap publicity stunt. This is not that.We’re only talking about 10 seconds of a 4 minute film here; it’s one of many images that evoke religious horror, visceral disgust, and alienation.

      The religious imagery is irreverent, but in the service of valid social commentary, not shock value. Those are verses from Old Testament that Diamanda is singing; laws that demanded the absolute segregation of plague carriers from society. The piece is about how society was responding to AIDS victims with hatred and fear, instead of compassion–often at the behest of religious institutions.

      If it offends Christian sensibilities, it’s because Christan sensibilities are offensive to people who have been told that the fatal disease they are carrying is a punishment from god.

  • Ironaddict06

    Come on-this is art? Having ants crawl on Jesus and the cross is considered good art? So I will be considered a great artist if I get a picture of Mary and have bugs crawl on it? Where are the artist of our time that will be compared to Da Vinci, Picasso, Degas, Giotto, Holbein, and other great artist? These people think they are raging against the machine. If they really have JUEVOS try doing this Muhammed.

  • Andrew

    Bad art is still art.

  • Daolsarge

    I dare you to put a copy of the statue of David on the dashboard of your car or on your desk at work.

  • Liquidself

    i can’t believe they’re attacking David Wojnarowucz again, isn’t it enough that he’s dead? It’s like the eighties agian only much, much worse. He was an absolutely fantastic artist/photographer/painter. Anyways the point of this is not the content of the art, the point is to assert control of the cultural agenda, whatever that may be. In this case the agenda is control, and the more ridiculous the objection the better to test whether or not that outrageous objection (and subsequent control) works.

  • Liquidself

    i can’t believe they’re attacking David Wojnarowucz again, isn’t it enough that he’s dead? It’s like the eighties agian only much, much worse. He was an absolutely fantastic artist/photographer/painter. Anyways the point of this is not the content of the art, the point is to assert control of the cultural agenda, whatever that may be. In this case the agenda is control, and the more ridiculous the objection the better to test whether or not that outrageous objection (and subsequent control) works.

    • Haystack

      Exactly, and it’s already been accompanied by calls for the go’vt to defund the Smithsonian. The Congressman in question made some ridiculous comments about it being unfair to ask the working class to pay for rich people’s entertainment. According to him, the working class mostly care about wrestling and never go to museums, so it’s some sort of elitism to provide with with affordable access to great art.

  • Liam_McGonagle

    But I think you may be missing the point here. Bill Donohue, that canker-sore of a Catholic League chief made the same argument you have here, and I’ll explain why it’s wrong: Government’s role is to do what the markets cannot.

    Our Founding Fathers (you know the ones, long hair tied in ribbons, wore silk knee britches, etc.), they recognized that a diet of ho-ho’s and ding-dongs is not healthy, and similarly there are somethings that a society MUST do that are not adequately supported by the self-centered perspective of stubbornly subjective preferences. Roads and bridges need to be built, the common defense has to be provided for, etc., etc. And one of those things is the creation of an environment that can foster deep, critically challenging art that fosters debate.

    So to say that this art would not be successful in the plastic-fantastic world of dull Rotary-Club wankers is not exactly a revelation–or even a contradiction of the premise that the institutions receive grants under. In fact, it’s a reinforcement.

  • Haystack

    The music for this is by Diamanda Galas, who is also a militant AIDS activist and inspired avante-garde performer. She can do some truly ungodly things with her voice. If you liked this and haven’t heard of her before, do check her out on YouTube.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W803o5_r1mE

  • Haystack

    The music for this is by Diamanda Galas, who is also a militant AIDS activist and inspired avante-garde performer. She can do some truly ungodly things with her voice. If you liked this and haven’t heard of her before, do check her out on YouTube.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W803o5_r1mE

  • Haystack

    Exactly, and it’s already been accompanied by calls for the go’vt to defund the Smithsonian. The Congressman in question made some ridiculous comments about it being unfair to ask the working class to pay for rich people’s entertainment. According to him, the working class mostly care about wrestling and never go to museums, so it’s some sort of elitism to provide with with affordable access to great art.

  • Haystack

    Yes, that’s definitely art. Mind you, I’ve been very critical of other so-called artists who have desecrated religious icons as a cheap publicity stunt. This is not that.We’re only talking about 10 seconds of a 4 minute film here; it’s one of many images that evoke religious horror, visceral disgust, and alienation.

    The religious imagery is irreverent, but in the service of valid social commentary, not shock value. Those are verses from Old Testament that Diamanda is singing; laws that demanded the absolute segregation of plague carriers from society. The piece is about how society was responding to AIDS victims with hatred and fear, instead of compassion–often at the behest of religious institutions.

    If it offends Christian sensibilities, it’s because Christan sensibilities are offensive to people who have been told that the fatal disease they are carrying is a punishment from god.

  • Simiantongue

    What exactly is assaulting sensibilities in this? All I see here is a slight alteration of concepts and preconceived notions. There is a depiction of Jesus. But the depiction seems to be the the common blue eyed white guy from Europe who bears an uncanny resemblance to a hippie, not very likely that Jesus looked like that being from the time and place he was. So it pays homage to the traditional western Christian racial outgrouping. There are ants crawling on it. So maybe little white kittens on a crucifix would be okay but not ants? How about serpents, what about a few marsupials? If you buy into the whole god thing, they are all gods creatures. There is a preconceived notion of lowly stature in insects which is completely without rational foundation I think, ants are amazing creatures. Actually having read the bible myself, which I’m not going to start quoting, Jesus was all for the meek and the small and I wonder if he had existed, would he object to being depicted with the ultimate underdog the lowly ant?

    As far as the verse chanting and the distorted voice. People have these ideas of how things should look, how things should sound, how things should be depicted. An artist takes that conventional thought and slightly distorts it. The voice sound strange. What the hell is the big deal? I think in some essence the whole idea is that saying those verses in a strange voice makes bad ju ju or something. A link, at some level, to religious primitivism. The whole thing seems rather tawdry to me in the way that nutter like Bill Donohue or religious pundits run about screaming offense, which is a blatant attempt at attention seeking. Both the controversial artists playing off religion and the religious playing off the artists every bit as much. The religious are never happier than when they are screaming about something that offends their religion, why play into that even?

  • Simiantongue

    What exactly is assaulting sensibilities in this? All I see here is a slight alteration of concepts and preconceived notions. There is a depiction of Jesus. But the depiction seems to be the the common blue eyed white guy from Europe who bears an uncanny resemblance to a hippie, not very likely that Jesus looked like that being from the time and place he was. So it pays homage to the traditional western Christian racial outgrouping. There are ants crawling on it. So maybe little white kittens on a crucifix would be okay but not ants? How about serpents, what about a few marsupials? If you buy into the whole god thing, they are all gods creatures. There is a preconceived notion of lowly stature in insects which is completely without rational foundation I think, ants are amazing creatures. Actually having read the bible myself, which I’m not going to start quoting, Jesus was all for the meek and the small and I wonder if he had existed, would he object to being depicted with the ultimate underdog the lowly ant?

    As far as the verse chanting and the distorted voice. People have these ideas of how things should look, how things should sound, how things should be depicted. An artist takes that conventional thought and slightly distorts it. The voice sound strange. What the hell is the big deal? I think in some essence the whole idea is that saying those verses in a strange voice makes bad ju ju or something. A link, at some level, to religious primitivism. The whole thing seems rather tawdry to me in the way that nutter like Bill Donohue or religious pundits run about screaming offense, which is a blatant attempt at attention seeking. Both the controversial artists playing off religion and the religious playing off the artists every bit as much. The religious are never happier than when they are screaming about something that offends their religion, why play into that even?

  • Hadrian999

    why is assaulting the sensibilities of christians bad but if you assault the sensibilities of muslims you are standing up for freedom, how weak is your faith if you see an an image, or critique, or cartoon as a threat, I say take the kidd gloves off for every faith.

  • Hadrian999

    why is assaulting the sensibilities of christians bad but if you assault the sensibilities of muslims you are standing up for freedom, how weak is your faith if you see an an image, or critique, or cartoon as a threat, I say take the kidd gloves off for every faith.

  • Richard

    This article and the commentary following it contains extreme disinformation

    FACTS:

    Many reports are showing an entirely unauthorized soundtrack version of David’s film from Youtube.

    Galas and Wojnarowicz never met. Galas and Wojnarowicz never collaborated.The Diamanda Galas soundtrack video is not authorized by the Wojnarowicz estate or the Fales Library.

    The Galas version was not the version removed from the gallery.

    Please read the recent ICP Panel discussion http://icpbardmfa.wordpress.com/2010/12/22/faculty-member-david-deitcher-on-icps-david-wojnarowicz-panel-12-16-2010/

    “Nayland noted that a search for Wojnarowicz’s Fire in My Belly on YouTube turns up a version that Marvin Taylor, founder and executive director of NYU’s Fales Collection, described as an unauthorized travesty—“a mess.”

    As well http://open.salon.com/blog/imwriteaboutart/2010/12/18/convenient_misinterpretations_the_saga_of_wojnarowicz

    “A friend of Wojnarowicz, Amy Scholder, confirms the two artists spoke a few times by telephone and admired each other’s work, but that’s it. Galas’ music was never a part of any edit of Fire In My Belly by Wojnarowicz, a fact easily proved by Wojnarowicz’s extensive notes and sketches for the work. Fire In My Belly is an unfinished work. A work in progress, edited for display.”

    If you would like to show David’s original film you may link to any of the versions on the P.P.O.W. gallery Vimeo channel- http://vimeo.com/user5389555
    Refer to Fales Library: http://blogs.nyu.edu/library/sp.collections/

  • Richard

    This article and the commentary following it contains extreme disinformation

    FACTS:

    Many reports are showing an entirely unauthorized soundtrack version of David’s film from Youtube.

    Galas and Wojnarowicz never met. Galas and Wojnarowicz never collaborated.The Diamanda Galas soundtrack video is not authorized by the Wojnarowicz estate or the Fales Library.

    The Galas version was not the version removed from the gallery.

    Please read the recent ICP Panel discussion http://icpbardmfa.wordpress.com/2010/12/22/faculty-member-david-deitcher-on-icps-david-wojnarowicz-panel-12-16-2010/

    “Nayland noted that a search for Wojnarowicz’s Fire in My Belly on YouTube turns up a version that Marvin Taylor, founder and executive director of NYU’s Fales Collection, described as an unauthorized travesty—“a mess.”

    As well http://open.salon.com/blog/imwriteaboutart/2010/12/18/convenient_misinterpretations_the_saga_of_wojnarowicz

    “A friend of Wojnarowicz, Amy Scholder, confirms the two artists spoke a few times by telephone and admired each other’s work, but that’s it. Galas’ music was never a part of any edit of Fire In My Belly by Wojnarowicz, a fact easily proved by Wojnarowicz’s extensive notes and sketches for the work. Fire In My Belly is an unfinished work. A work in progress, edited for display.”

    If you would like to show David’s original film you may link to any of the versions on the P.P.O.W. gallery Vimeo channel- http://vimeo.com/user5389555
    Refer to Fales Library: http://blogs.nyu.edu/library/sp.collections/