After spending the last few months getting Boutique d’Amour up and running I decided it was past time to start writing. I set the blog up so I may as well use it right? But for the life of me I couldn’t get my brain to pump out anything I deemed interesting. Hundreds of e-mails a day in my inbox and nothing inspired me? And then, there it was. A bright shiny beacon beckoning me from that same boring inbox.
I received an article about an exhibition at the Brno House of Arts. I love art. All kinds of art. I love exhibits. And I love making hubby take me to said exhibits. I was going to have to do some fast talking if I wanted hubby to take me to this one though. Either that or not show him the featured artist’s work before we go.
The artist is Joel Peter Witkin. And if you’re at all squeamish, you might want to stop here. Part of the description by The Brno House of Arts for the Decadence Now exhibition is:
‘Decadence is an often discussed theme in contemporary culture, feelings of hopelessness and crisis in contemporary civilization initiate an increase in the darker (decadent) side of the human inner soul as well as the world itself. Decadent art is extreme, it often transcends the limits of what is generally acceptable, it breaks down the most sensitive taboos in a provocative manner. It initiates, it demands formulation and a clear position and is irreconcilable with indifference.
Joel Peter Witkin’s work often deals with such themes as death, corpses (and sometimes dismembered portions thereof), and various outsiders such as dwarfs, transsexuals, hermaphrodites, and physically deformed people. Witkin’s complex tableaux often recall religious episodes or famous classical paintings.’
These pictures are quite tame in comparison to many of his pieces. I got quite an eye full after Googling him. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll end up googling him as well. Just to see. Just as we all do when driving by the scene of an accident or watching a tragedy unfold or come across something we consider abnormal or different in some way. And this brings me to my question.
What is art? Who decides if something is art or pornography or just ‘pictures’? What is art for some can often be rejected by others. It’s entirely subjective. So is it still art?
Elliott Erwitt says:
‘To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary piece. I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see, and everything to do with the way you see them’
In the early 1900’s the French were making some beautiful erotic postcards. Considered by many today to be art and sought after by collectors, many of these photographs show women in various states of sexual activity with each other. What makes these photographs ‘ar’t as opposed to ‘pornography’? Is it the angle of the lens? The lighting? The props? The photographer? The popular vote? If you took this same photograph today, same props, same lighting, women doing the same thing, but with models and camera technology today, would it still be considered art? If we took that same photograph to place it on a pornography site, does it become pornography instead of art? If a photograph is placed in an art gallery, does that make it art? If I tell you it’s art, is it?
If art is subjective, and has everything to do with the way you see it, then where you see it will influence your decision on whether or not you consider it art.
So I will be dragging poor hubby along to this exhibition this weekend. (Without showing him this blog first I think). Art and pornography aside, my curiosity has definitely gotten the better of me regarding this artist and what could prompt a man to dismember corpses, position and prop them and then photograph them. I find myself compelled to view these tragic, abnormal and provocative pieces that I am told is art. And I wonder what my hubby will think about them.