Friday, February 19, 2010

This is soup. This is art.

Blog title compliments of Jane Wagner's The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe

OK. Amanda Palmer. Right then.

For some reason I feel compelled to remind you Amanda Palmer and I are having a love affair...she just doesn't know it. But that's OK. I'm content to love from afar.

Anyway, so there's a wee bit o' the drama llama camped out in her front yard right now centered around the Evelyn Evelyn project she's been promoting pretty heavily over the last few months in anticipation of the release of their debut album.

To sum up...the drama is centered around a blog post Amanda wrote describing the backstory of Evelyn Evelyn - conjoined twin sisters with a "history" of abuse, sexual slavery, circus performances, and just general hard knock lives - that has riled up some folks...namely people who've decided the whole project - a fictional story about fictional sisters, by the way - is discriminatory against disabled people and women and that their backstory is horrible and disgusting. They've even gone so far as to contact Neil Gaiman about what?...controlling his fiancé? *sigh*

So Amanda took to her blog again to respond to the drama.

Now I don't particularly care about the drama and that's not what I'm here to discuss. What I am here to discuss tonight is something I've noticed about some of the comments particularly from those who appear to be abhorred by the entire concept.

Basically, art should be pleasing, safe. And also? That "fiction is consensual".

What? Huh?

From the wiki...

Generally, art is made with the intention of stimulating thoughts and emotions.

Sometimes art is not pleasing. Sometimes it is not safe. Some of the most thought provoking art is anything but safe or pleasant. But that is rarely the intent of the artist. Art is a vehicle for expression. If it were safe, it would express nothing. It can be beautiful and move us to tears or it can be so disturbing as to force us to consider and question our own beliefs and values. It pushes us to examine ourselves and the world around, hate, mercy, brutality.

The Human Condition

Examples of in what ways art has explored some of the more disturbing aspects of the human condition:

In film
Boys Don't Cry
Schindler's List
American History X
A Streetcar Named Desire
The Snake Pit

Would you like for me to go on?

In paintings
Peter Paul Rubens Rape of the Daughters of Leucippus

photo courtesy of

In photography
Robert Mapplethorpe - you may remember the Mapplethorpe exhibit controversy.

photo courtesy of The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

In literature
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Hamlet by William Shakespeare
Geek Love by Katherine Dunn

Anyway, I think you are probably getting my point.

Art is not safe. By it's very nature it is unsafe. And that's why it's beautiful. Evelyn Evelyn's story isn't a beautiful story. It's a story wrought with sadness, strife, molestation, exploitation. These are all uncomfortable and disturbing themes. Are they no less relevant because the story is fiction? Are they less disturbing because they are being depicted through art?

Or are the people who are so upset simply upset because they've been dragged kicking and screaming into a world where it's not all SUV's and picket fences?

One last thing...the next time you are compelled to believe fiction is consensual, you may want to reconsider telling a child Santa, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, or God exists.


Anonymous said...

I could hardly wait to get through the lists to respond with "Geek Love" but you already had it listed. What an incredible book?!? We never talked about it . . .

zero hour said...

I Loved Geek Love!
and thank you for you comments on art...
here excuse me I have to go draw masturbating monkeys......