Monday, November 2, 2009

Government Art / N.E.A. / Censorship

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It bothers me that my tax dollars are used to fund artwork that I find worthless. As soon as a conversation starts on this topic, so does the matter of censorship. They go hand in hand. Americans are protected by laws that forbid censorship, yet there are many instances in our society where censorship is applied. This would seem to indicate that there is room for exceptions. We are not to yell fire in a crowded theater. We are not to travel nude on a bus. And etc. Isn't that a level of censorship? When something is called artwork the question become is it properly labeled.

Art is, as they say, in the eyes of the beholder. One man's artwork is another man's trash. The National Endowment for the Arts (N.E.A.) has labeled many repulsive items as art, and they continue to give away my tax money (and yours) to support the artists that make this (in my opinion) junk.  I don't like it!

There are many excellent artists that produce wonderful conventional artworks, (Robert Mapplethorpe for example) - who also sometimes produce some of the worst garbage describable. Holy Bibles nestled in dog poop. A caricature of Jesus sketched in blood. Children portrayed having sex with a dog. And so forth. None of this trash should be supported by public money. Period.

To prevent subsidization of artists that insist on making this detestable kind of non-conventional and unacceptable art, and assuming that the Government should be involved at all, should we (the government) set standards to qualify for taxpayer support? In other words, a level of censorship.

I think this would be dangerous and the power could be easily misused. Who should draw up such qualifications? What subjects should be forbidden? I've got the questions. Do you have the answers?


Rain said...

Mapplethorpe was an extreme although art as a means of political protest has gone way back and for all we know even showed up in petroglyphs.

Generally speaking the grants don't really fund any individual artist but go to traveling exhibits or programs. After reading your thoughts on it here, I went looking for who is getting it right now and found this: A person might or might not approve of the various exhibits but there really isn't much money going into them either. Most artists are supported or not by selling their work and a lot of those who sell the most probably don't get any grants-- nor need them.

I always have a problem even with art museums as often the work (to me) is very questionably the best art of its generation. One time I was looking at an exhibit in Portland and said something to the guard about how it was more like the Emperor's New Clothes than real art. He was taken aback and definitely didn't agree with me; but it was the truth. Someone important said it was art and therefore it got in there but will a future generation think it is? Unlikely in my opinion.

The thing is though without those small grants for like a local dance group, with schools cutting out the arts for budgetary reasons, where might that leave any support for budding artists in the future? I favor money for the NEA but know I won't always agree with who they consider worthy.

The Grey Geezer . . . . . . . said...

Rain . . This time, though I pains me to admit it, you are 100% right. I especially agree with your last sentence.