Monday, December 29, 2008

The Glamourous World of Art Slides Dangerously Close to Pornography

That is a post title designed to enhance traffic. To really sucker people into my blog I have included this seductive photo of my naked dog.

The back story is that I had an artist cancel a show- very last minute- but being a woman of resilience I threw together a group show to open at the end of January...designed to take advantage of the Valentine's Day Holiday. The theme is "Love & Desire." So I braced myself for the submissions.

Today I was reprimanded by an artist for rejecting a piece that I felt was too explicit. I worry that the subtext to our disagreement is that the subject was homoerotic and that I am a prude when it comes to homoerotocism.

The truth is that the line between pornography and art is mighty thin and I am not always sure where it is drawn. Regardless of the subject of lust and the sex of the lustee, there is a point where the viewer no longer is invited to share the beauty of desire and merely becomes a voyeur.

But I also struggle with artists who ask us to look at the uncomfortable. While there are pieces I may not want to look at over my mantle, it does not mean they are without merit or meaning. At the other end of the spectrum are artists who vie to create the most novel or shocking image. After the novelty has worn off, what are we left with? Does the work of art still stand up as a piece of beauty? Or does it become a dated marker of the taboos of its day?

Sigh.... I wish I didn't have to think so much about this and could just accept this show as a real PR blockbuster. Just think of the headlines...."Gallery Director Busted for Peddling Porno in Main Street Shop. Mayor, in Adjacent Condo, is Disgusted."


Michelle said...

I go by this rule, if, when looking at said piece, you hear bad elevator music in your head, it's pronography.
(and shockingly appropriate, your word verification was 'undes')

LYC said...

If your gallery were doing a special exhibit on homoeroticism would the artist in question be insulted?

smith kaich jones said...

Well, I've always thought a piece could be both art and pornography, but that doesn't mean I want to look at it close up & in detail. LOL! That said, I also feel the same about "political" art - it may be art, but I'm pretty much not interested in looking at it if it's just blatant. You know, pieces like where you have to stand on a torn up US flag to read some message about how awful this country is, etc., etc. So glad you're the one having to make these decisions. Tough calls all around, it sounds like.

In the meantime, Happy 2009 & may good things keep coming your way!

:) Debi

SMC said...

Well Ms Jones, I think you are right that art can be both art & pornography. Perhaps I was grappling more with my business being shanghied by someone else. If I am uncomfortable with presenting something (or talking about) to a customer, it just won't work. This work was too difficult for me to interpret as art also. Perhaps pornography, for me, must also titillate the emotions/mind.

smith kaich jones said...

More power to you - it is your business, after all, and I find it weird that someone would reprimand you for not accepting his or her piece.

:) Debi

SMC said...

I think I am coming to the conclusion that unless life is going ABSOLUTELY smoothly, it means a confrontation. ick.