Monday, March 31, 2008

Post Script

I went to the open discussion on the so-called "art" exhibit at San Francisco Art Institute. I wore Real Shoes and not some of my 47 1/2 pairs of sneakers because everyone knows that Real Shoes bestow more authority. I even found parking right in front of the campus, which is beautiful, but I only made it as far as the gate to the courtyard before several bouncers turned me back.

The forum was canceled. I asked why and was given a press release which states that there were threats by animal-rights extremists against the art institute. I must say that I don't agree with their tactics as violence was the whole point of the protest, but thankfully the controversial exhibit has been permanently closed.

I do take umbrage at the statement issued by President Chris Bratton of SFAI, who persists in referring to Adel Abdessemed as an "artist."

"Though we've decided to take this action," he said, "SFAI stands behind the exhibition as an instance of a long-standing and serious commitment, on SFAI's part, to reflection on, and free and open discussion of, contemporary global art and culture. As an institution, we take seriously our responsibility, to encourage, and promote, such dialogue."

Clearly the guy suffers from commarhea.

He goes on defending his appallingly bad judgment in running the exhibit in the first place, which is just so much blah blah blah blah Ginger to me.

Unfortunately, threats of violence against the institute weaken the valid case against this exhibit and their decision to legitimize it as artwork.

San Francisco Art Institute was founded in 1871 and you would think they'd know enough about art by now to recognize it -- and its shady imitators.

44 comments:

witnessing am i said...

That is amazing -- "animal-rights extremists"!!!???!!!Extremists? That verbal twist is so . . . . telling. Extremists? Really? Or are they merely "advocates?"

I support what the Art Insititute writes about in their release otherwise, but surely there are some better choices in the "contemporary global art and culture."

Ugh.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

David,

Yeah, extremists. The Institute's whole take on this is extremely disappointing. They do not admit the error of their ways and still defend their original decision and the so-called "artist."

It's obvious that they only closed the exhibit because of threats, and I would have preferred that they did so because they realized how wrong they were.

Bob said...

Mapplethorpe used to get this kind of reaction to some of his artwork.

There are some animal rights groups that advocate violence as a means to their ends. kinda like the people who blow up abortion clinics.

On a limb with Claudia said...

I'm certain you scared the crap out of them with your Real Shoes. Of course, I read "Red shoes" but which would also scare the crap out of someone.... ;)

I love your passion for kindness.

RED MOJO said...

It is a shame it couldn't be shut down for the right reasons.

I agree with on a limb with claudia I too love your passion for kindness!

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Bob,

Mapplethorpe offended homophobes. This "artwork" offends common decency. BIG difference.

I once belonged to PETA but was uncomfortable with the violence of some of their protests. You can't reasonably criticize another if you are behaving in the same way, no matter what your cause.

Claudia,

I must get some red shoes immediately, especially if I intend to live up to my avatar.

I love that you said that about me.

Mojo,

Yes, an uneven victory, but a victory all the same.

Thank you, too. I think I do have a passion for kindness, although it never occurred to me until Claudia mentioned it.

Lex said...

This issue got me so choked up yesterday I couldn't post a comment. I had been watching an ASPCA commercial where they show animals bandaged up with sad eyes wanting a home and a safe place away from their abusers. And then your post! And then my dumb apartment complex won't let me rescue one of those babies. It was just too much.

I'm glad they closed the exhibit. But this is a place where my heart strings and my politics collide. Though I agree that this ain't art, I still support the moron's right to produce and exhibit it. I have no idea what bearing the 1st Amendment has on art museums, but I hope it's minimal.

He can come display his exhibit on the National Mall. I'll take advantage of my first amendment right to sling dog poo at him. Free expression, right?

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Lex,

I have to disagree with you because he is killing animals to produce his whatever-it-is. We are not talking about Andy Warhol or Emil Keene - the issue is not artistic merit but torturing helpless animals. So call it art or drek, the definition is only valid in that it was exhibited in a venue (art gallery) which exists to display art.

Bad painting is one thing. Abuse and murder, quite another. But I will happily join you in throwing dog poo at him.

meno said...

What's next in the attempt to shock us with "art?"

Killing old people on film?

I can understand lots of things being art, but not something that caused pain and death to a creature, just to give us something to look at.

The CEO said...

I'll agree with Claudia here. Lex does correctly look at the First Amendment, and you are correct in your assessment as well, which is the fight the ASPCA has. When done well, the correct solution will emerge, and I think you'll be happy with it. At least I hope I will.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Meno,

Well said. Will you represent me when I get arrested for my views?

Monty,

Screw the First Amendment. They're killing animals.

Me intransigent? Oh, no-o.

citizen of the world said...

I'm with you, of course. Cruelty and carnage are not art.

citizen of the world said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
thailandchani said...

There's a time they wouldn't have gotten away with that.

Nick said...

I'm glad the exhibit has been permanently removed. But as you say for the wrong reasons, the threat of violence instead of an acceptance that it just isn't art.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Citizen,

!!!!!


Chani,

Sometimes I wonder if the whole world has gone crazy.

Nick,

That was exactly the point I was trying to make.

jameil1922 said...

lmao @ blah blah blah blah Ginger to me. hilarity.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Jameil,

Gary Larson was an amazing cartoonist. I was sad when he gave it up to study jazz guitar, although I was also happy for him that he could.

WNG said...

I'm glad you went Hearts, and I do wish that cooler heads had prevailed. Sadly there are those who will see that the threats 'worked' and think that makes them ok. An actual discussion of the issue with the curators and hopefully the artist with the same result would have been better - in my opinion.
Oh well.
Sadly, I'm sure there'll be a next time.

MsLittlePea said...

oh. I just got caught up over here. This is shocking. I feel like the guy just needed a legitimate excuse to abuse a helpless creature and then probably gets off even more by showing it to people. That's not art that's crazy. Just as crazy is a bunch of people calling themselves activists threatening violence against those who commit um, what's the right word, oh yeah, violence. Makes no sense.

I used to belong to an animal rights group in my teens. The most extreme I ever got was to hide in some bushes to take pictures of a poor dolphin that lived in a dirty pond so that we could report it. Pretty hard core huh?

Mariposa said...

I'm glad the exhibit will not happen, though I would have loved it to NOT happen because they ultimately hear people out that ART does not cover what they're trying to show there.

Christy said...

Wow, I'm glad it is closed, he is a disturbing individual.

Rebecca said...

I don't believe violence should be threatened or perpetrated to protest this exhibit. That is called terrorism, and has no place in public discourse.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Wng,

There probably will be a next time because there is always someone trying to pass off violence as somehow justified.

And I'll be watching. :)

Sweet Pea,

Kind of like Free Willy? Was the dolphin saved, I hope?

It's obscene that so many people abuse animals with impunity.

Mariposa,

I agree 100% with what you've said.

Christy,

Violence and those who commit it do not belong in any society, but committing it in the name of "art" is so insane that we all need to re-examine our values.

Rebecca,

It was wrong to protest with tactics not very different from what was being protested.

Violence is wrong in anybody's hands.

Ian Lidster said...

As a deep lover of animals the concept of brutality as 'art' staggers me. At the same time, extremism by animal rights activists also staggers.
Good thoughts by you as always.

PeterAtLarge said...

Years ago, some might remember, Kim Jones burned rats in a cage in the course of an art performance at Cal State LA. A Vietnam veteran, he had learned the dreadful act in the rat-infested mudholes, where American soldiers burned rats to relieve the boredom--and surely some frustrated aggression. The act certainly dramatized much of the moral outrage around the war, the use of napalm on innocent citizens, the inhumanity of war itself and of its human perpetrators. It also provoked enormous, passionate controversy. Jones ended up in court; the gallery director was fired. I still find myself in my own moral quandary about it: I despise the action, but empathize, in some way, with the fury and alienation that provoked it. The memory leaves me sad and angry--particularly in view of the continuing war, inhumanity and injustice under Bush.

Echomouse said...

I agree with your view on all of this. I'm so glad they cancelled it. These art places get away with too much sometimes. That exhibit was completely wrong and cruel. It was not art. It's never going to be art.

Molly said...

"Several" bouncers turned you away? And you wearing your "real" shoes and all---were they the shiny red ones on your header? How could someone as small as you, wearing real shoes, need more than one bouncer to turn her away? Did you growl at them or something?

Mr. Bratton should be sent to the doghouse for his twisted interpretation of what art is/isn't. Ginger could join you all in the poo slinging. And it would also increase his [Bratton's] chances of being chosen to participate in that "artist's" future work. Of which I hope there will be very little.

Jocelyn said...

It would be extremely interesting to hear some real words (not "press release words") from the Institute's director--a genuine or passionate explanation of how they could consider this art and not just bruality cunningly packaged.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Ian,

When violence begets more violence the point is diluted, no matter how valid it was.

Peter,

I am not familiar with Kim Jones and his performance art" which sounds a bit like Vietnamese monks immolating themselves.

Again, protesting violence with more violence proves nothing. Ghandi, Jesus, MLK Jr, all who preached or practiced non-violent civil disobedience were far more effective in creating change.

Echo,

No. I don't care how they try to dress it up, it's still brutal torture of animals who die in horrible pain.

Art by legal definition must have some kind of redeeming social value.

Molly,

I'm small?

There were FOUR bouncers, wearing suits like a Mafia funeral. They were loaded for bear. I don't think they expected - ME.

Jocelyn,

It will never happen. It's hard to imagine that someone who runs an art institute would know so little about it, so it must be politics.

Art and politics have never mixed well.

Molly said...

Aren't you? Maybe you never said so but I've always had that impression. I think you've mentioned how you can never reach things on how shelves etc that were desisned with "tall people in mind...." Or maybe I'm just raving. It wouldn't be the first time.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Molly,

I am 5'1", which is very tall for a pygmy, a Little Person, or a 4-year old.

However, I have delusions of grandeur.

jalishouse said...

Unbelievable story.

Craziness to the nth degree.

Kapuananiokalaniakea said...

SO SO SAD and angering!!!! What passes for art these days and the lengths that people in the wrong will go to to deny their wrongness!
Thank you for taking a stand--and in Real Shoes, no less. Way to be authoritative!

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Jali,

Yup. A dangerous craziness.

Puanani,

The cause deserved no less than Real Shoes. Sometimes we all have to make sacrifices for our um, art.

Lex said...

I'm sorry. I'm confused. Are these paintings or photographs?

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Lex,

Neither. They are videos on
six giant TV sets, one per animal. In the videos, the animals are being bludgeoned to death with a large sledgehammer.

I didn't go to the exhibit, but I'm sure my information is accurate.

Josie said...

Hearts, I am so shocked, I don't even know what to say. My question is, who is the jerk, oops, I mean, curator at the San Francisco Art Institute who thought this was something the public should see? And has Adel Abdessemed had a psychiatric evaluation? Most serial killers start out torturing and killing animals first.

carrie said...

TO: cbratton@sfai.edu

Mr. Bratton-

I do not expect you to be an expert on all subject matters. However, if you are going to make public statements on the SFAI website about the animal husbandry practices in rural Mexico you must at least do some due diligence. Mexicans do not eat horse meat- they never have (any more than a rare occurrence of this happening in the USA). This bit of video was not filmed as part of "an already-existing circuit of food production" in rural Mexico- it was created and executed for your exhibit. I urge you to do even tiny bit of background research on food production practices in Mexico before you begin to disparage Mexicans in public statements. I also suggest you visit rural Mexico so that you can better understand their animal husbandry practices. Rural Mexicans do not kill animals using a sledge hammer- why in the world would they opt for that inefficient method when people are more likely to own a machete?

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Josie,

I don't see how anyone can glorify tormenting and killing animals, which is why I walked out of the only bullfight I have ever been to, in Madrid.

It's a short reach to his next exhibit in which human beings are murdered on camera.

I know enough about art to know that this is not it.

Carrie,

I don't believe this bloody exhibit has anything to do with animal husbandry in Mexico or anywhere else. It's very sick.

I tried to access your blog but your link doesn't work. Please let me know if that changes, and thanks for coming by here.

Lex said...

OK, well scratch everything I said. I must not have read closely. I thought these were paintings or some other "not real" depictions of animal cruelty.

That is insane! And illegal?

riseoutofme said...

Cruelty to any living organism is an abomination. Nothing justifies it.

Unfortunately, we, as a race, seem to be unshockable. Violence, in all its forms, appears to be an acceptable component of what it means to be human.

Have we all lost the plot?

Or are we just on the inexorable, downward spiral to self-destruction?

The Fool said...

Bad art is a great deal worse than no art at all.

- Osacr Wilde

Extremist is a comparative term...always compared to what? I will stand as an extremist to such soulessness any day.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Lex,

That explains why you said that. And yes, if it had been artwork, I would absolutely agree with you.

Thanks for clearing it up.

Rise,

Sometimes I think that we humans are a poor excuse for a species, the spiral is out of control, and I want to go and live with dogs.

No Fool,

Yes. I agree completely. Semantics is a poor excuse to distract people from the real issue which is indeed soulless.

Thank you for your visit.