Artistic endeavors require responsibility

Every so often, the art world is turned upside down. In this instance however, Glenn Beck submerged it in urine and auctioned it off for charity.

Though he would later clarify that the Mason jar containing the “Dashboard Obama” bobblehead was not filled with actual urine, Beck had already marked his territory, leaving eBay no other option than to pull the item from their site.

His point, and in response to the recent showing of works like 1989’s “Piss Christ” by Andres Serrano and the more recent piece “The Truth” by Michael D’Antuono, Beck sought to evoke the same level of insult he felt when viewing these and other works that depict or play on themes he finds offensive as a Christian.

Citing the first amendment, Beck noted, that like the rest of us, he too can “make art,” regardless of what some might think of it or him.

Beck and D’Antuono met on TheBlazeTV last Wednesday to discuss the matter.

When asked directly about what he was trying to say with the piece “The Truth,” D’Antuono said, “Metaphorically, he was being crucified by the right. (Obama) says the sky’s blue, (the right is) going to say it’s red. And blue is a Communist color anyway.”

When he was asked about the notion that Beck was being “crucified” by the left, D’Antuono admitted that he had not given it any consideration.

Personally, my thoughts on the matter are broad and vary with intensity. Outside of some self-portraits, any artist who shamelessly inserts themselves as the subject, be it in his or her own or another’s work, as Beck proudly proclaimed — seems painfully pretentious and undoubtedly uninspired.

Art, of course, is in the eye of the beholder. Beck, D’Antuono and Serrano are free to express themselves however they see fit, as is everyone else.

While art can be provocative or not, appealing or not — even for sale or not — artists and their respective works must display some level of decorum, particularly if artists wish to be taken with any amount of merit. For those that don’t, it becomes the audience’s responsibility to react civilly.

Before anyone thinks I am asking for censorship, I am not. Paint, sketch or what have you to your heart’s content. However you feel the need to express yourself, go right ahead, but recognize the impact your actions can have on others and anticipate the impact of your art.

If you feel that it’s worth it, then best of luck to you. If you, the audience, don’t like the art or its source, find a way to express yourself in a way other than pouting like a small child.

There are some who feel we are long overdue for an artistic revolution. That might be true, but I also feel we are long overdue for advances in other ways of our behavior as well.

With art comes the freedom of expression, but the freedom to express ourselves must possess some level of respect if we’re truly going to try and move forward through the various mediums of communication. If not, we’re all just wasting our time.

In the end, the “art” for me last week was watching these two debate the matter. Then again, what do I know? I’m no art critic.

 

Reach the columnist at jbfortne@asu.edu or follow him at @JOMOFO40.

 

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