Opinion

Use One Word to Defend Offensive Monuments. Call it ‘Art.’ That’s What Liberals Do.

For decades conservatives have tried to remove government funding for the arts, not because conservatives are opposed to art, but because they did not want their money going to deviant and political art. The Left has always defended deviancy, whether by visual means or comedy, by calling it ART. That’s the magic word. But it only works if you’re a leftist. We need to make it work for us.

Warning. Some Offensive language.

How many of you remember how Leftists defended the “Piss Christ” so-called art of the American artist and photographer Andres Serrano?

The piece was a winner of the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art‘s “Awards in the Visual Arts” competition, which was sponsored in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, a United States Government agency that offers support and funding for artistic projects.”

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We were told that it was “art,” and therefore could not be criticized. “Supporters argued that the controversy over Piss Christ is an issue of artistic freedom and freedom of speech…. Beginning September 27, 2012, Piss Christ was on display at the Edward Tyler Nahem Gallery in New York, at the Serrano show Body and Spirit. Religious groups and some lawmakers called for President Barack Obama to denounce the artwork, comparing it to the anti-Islamic film Innocence of Muslims that the White House had condemned earlier that month.” Did he? No. Why? It was art by someone his political friends supported.

Then there was “The Holy Virgin Mary” painting created by Chris Ofili in 1996. It was one of the works included in the Sensation exhibition in London, Berlin, and New York in 1997–2000. “The subject of the work, and its execution, caused considerable controversy in New York, with Rudolph Giuliani – then Mayor of New York City – describing Ofili’s work as ‘sick.’ In 1998, Ofili was the first black artist to be awarded the Turner Prize. The painting was sold for £2.9 million ($4.6 million) in June 2015.”

What was its composition?:

On a yellow-orange background, the large painting (8 feet high and 6 feet wide) depicts a black woman wearing a blue robe, a traditional attribute of the Virgin Mary. The work employs mixed media, including oil paint, glitter, and polyester resin, and also elephant dung, map pins and collaged pornographic images. The central Black Madonna is surrounded by many collaged images that resemble butterflies at first sight, but on closer inspection are photographs of female genitalia; an ironic reference to the putti that appear in traditional religious art. A lump of dried, varnished elephant dung forms one bared breast, and the painting is displayed leaning against the gallery wall, supported by two other lumps of elephant dung, decorated with coloured pins: the pins on the left are arranged to spell out “Virgin” and the one on the right “Mary.”

What makes the artist’s work “art”? It’s “nuanced.” After explaining why it is offensive “at first glance,” it’s all justified by adding the word “however.” The following is from Khan Academy‘s description of Chris Ofili’s The Holy Virgin Mary:

At first glance it seems easy to discern why the painting raised a few eyebrows: the inclusion of real shit and collaged pornography might be enough to offend conservative viewers. However, Ofili’s work is more nuanced than it appeared to his detractors; the piece reflects on art historical precedents while addressing identity politics, religion and pop culture. To grasp its complexity, one must look beneath the surface—as dazzling and shocking as it may be.

When it’s explained like this, sure, it’s art. You see it, don’t you? It’s all in the description. You have to use a word like “nuance” and describe it as “set against a shimmering gold background comprised of carefully placed dots of paint and glitter.” Wow! I never saw it like that before. I guess the “shimmering gold” balances out the “real shit.”

Just call the offensive monuments “art.” If “shit” on canvas (or in a can) can be art, certainly metal and stone can be. It’s all in how you “nuance” it.

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