July 27, 2004



"Flower Power," Flower Arrangement and Photograph by Catherine King, July 27, 2004.

Posted by Jerome at 10:50 AM | TrackBack

July 11, 2004

Richard Serra's Moral Cowardice

Whoever they're coming for, they're coming for you.

by Jerome du Bois

I've been checking out some blogosphere reactions to Richard Serra's July 5th back page ad for the Nation -- Bush Cannibal Goya -- and I've noticed, blogging around to six or seven sites, a familiar, deliberate blind spot on the political far left: they leave out the middle part.

Who did I visit? Here:

Tyler Green, who alerted me to What's in Scott's Head, Archy, Petrelis Files, and Blogumentary, none of which I had heard of; not unheard of in the blogosphere.

Then I checked out Free Republic, including the comments and images by Ichenumon (scroll down, it's eye-opening), Michelle Malkin (who was on the story on June 30th), and the inimitable Steve H. of Little Tiny Lies / Hog on Ice.

All the sites point out that Serra's piece derives from Goya's Saturn, but only what you might call the "conservative" blogs mention the fact that Serra may also be riffing on Dan Brown's anti-Semitic political cartoon -- a celebration of the blood libel -- which won Britain's highest prize for cartooning in 2003, long before Serra's ad. (The sun of reason is definitely setting on the British Empire.) The "liberal" ones leave it out, even though it's the most recent relevant example of parody of this Goya painting that I've been able to find.

And Tyler Green's typically lightweight note points to two sites' postings with only a glance at the issue (Paul Begala and Robert Novak yelling past each other on CNN?), and the other two, as the first two, leave out any reference to Brown's cartoon. [You know something's happening here but you don't know what it is, do you, Mr. Green?]

Back to Serra: Evil Dick or Stupid Dick? Maybe (bang bang) Matthew's silver hammer came down on his head too hard in Cremaster 3? No, I think it's just more of the moral bankruptcy and cowardice of the far left, hiding behind the fact that they're in bed with the Jew-haters.

[Background reading: Part Six of the new book Those Who Forget The Past, edited by Ron Rosenbaum; the seven essays by Melanie Phillips, Dr. Laurie Zoloth, Todd Gitlin, Eli Muller, Mark Strauss, Barry Oringer, and Fiamma Nirenstein.]

J'accuse: I think Serra is pointing to Dan Brown's cartoon without having the balls to point to it. Why did he pick that image? Everybody's horrified, but you can find or create hundreds of worse images. Go look at some of the sites, which I won't link -- they're easy to find -- for a Photoshopping, head-swapping rodeo. (Watch Kerry and Edwards do the dirty hula!) Right after 9/11, Artforum ran an ad showing the Statue of Liberty with OBL's grim visage grafted on, holding up the severed head of President Bush, replete with pendant tendons. Really, Dick, what's the matter with you? These days? Think severed heads! But no; and what does the world-class artist come up with for his next ad? Take a look.

Impressed? Yawn city. You're going to have to do better than that, Katrina Dick. Since you're on a Goya kick, dig into Los Caprichos: humiliation and impalement! Dunce caps and cannibalism! Oh, the possible range of the depredation of Jews spreads wide, red, and bloody . . .

The blood. Blood on hands, bloody mouth. It's a familiar antisemitic trope you can find on many Egyptian, Saudi Arabian, and Palestinian websites. MEMRI regularly carries them. Just today on CNN I watched as Palestinians burned a six-foot paper Star of David with Ariel Sharon's head at the center, his open mouth pouring red gore.

I very much doubt that the ultra-politically-sensitive Richard Serra is an ignorant man. I think he is surreptitiously attacking Jews, and anyone who supports them, with a stupidity/paranoia index which approaches Protocols-of-the-Elders-of-Zion levels, which have rarely been exceeded. This is cowardice of the blackest sort as well.

Not long after 9/11, Christopher Hitchens, a man who, like me, had to readjust his political compass after the murderous terror, noted somewhere that some people would rather stand anywhere than in the same corner as their own government. (He didn't say "Bush," he said "government.")

Richard Serra's out there, far from our embattled corner. What a stunted man. He should donate every ounce of steel of every piece he has on the drawing boards to armor our men and women for a war against people who have nothing but contempt for his monolithic creations. If his Jew-hating fellow travellers have their way, his head will roll, too.

Posted by Jerome at 04:05 PM | TrackBack

July 01, 2004

"Democracy in America" at ASU Should Be Renamed "Nobody Here But Us Chickens"

by Jerome du Bois

Two months ago, on April 20 (what a day), we posted a satirical, fictional "preview" of an upcoming political exhibition at ASU Art Museum which was to carry the title "Democracy in America."

Two days ago, the Phoenix New Times published an update on this exhibition, which, though shepherded by four of the museum's curators, is unfinished, unbalanced, and the subject of some controversy, since the third Presidential Debate will take place "hundreds of feet away" from the exhibition. I suggest readers compare the two articles. For one thing, we get the Bush-bashing right, which seemed obvious to us but now has university officials' knickers in a twist. It's funny and pathetic seeing these so-called pros scrambling to hide from such weak-ass art. Even our farcical suggestions are better than this crap.

I was in the middle of a long exposition of this whole embarrassment, but I believe it can be summarized by the behavior of curator John Spiak, the submarine behind this disingenuous bait-and-switch. And I have better, more fun things to write about. So let me compress myself:

Just after 9/11, Spiak put on a show called "Nooks and Crannies," which included a piece by Jon Haddock. Here's how Kathleen Vanesian described the situation for NT in October of 2001:

Not all of the show's offerings provide comic relief or witty ironic musings. Like everything else, "Nooks and Crannies" fell unwitting prey to fallout from September 11's tragic terrorist bombings. Jon Haddock's oversize action figures in a stairwell vignette re-creating one of the final scenes in The Godfather became instantly controversial the day after the attacks. The sculptural installation, for which no explanatory text had been put up at the time, depicts several figures lying in pools of resin-made blood, with a nearby gangster dressed as a police officer pointing a gun at another victim fleeing up the stairs.

"There was heavy reaction to [Haddock's work] the day after the bombings because we didn't have any information about it up," the show's curator says. "It caught me off guard. We took the piece out of the gallery for a bit so we could think about it. It made my stomach churn all day thinking about pulling Haddock's work."

The museum quickly came to the conclusion that "if we pulled it, we were censoring it, and the bombing was all about people opposed to our democratic way of life, including freedom of expression." The piece stayed in, Spiak reports. "And I grew as a curator that day."

And in this latest NT piece, written by Joe Watson, he shows how he grew, and how much:

Unlike some ASU Art Museum officials, including Spiak, who stopped returning calls several days ago, many of the artists contacted provided details of the soliciting process, the work they've submitted to the museum's curators, and electronic versions of those pieces, and who frankly acknowledged their disdain for Bush, his policies, and the war in Iraq.

O brave new world, VJ Johnny D, which has such stand-up step-up steel backbone mofos like you in it.

No, they're all cowards: John Spiak, Marilyn Zeitlin, Heather Lineberry, and Peter Held, the first two of whom whine that they can't find pro-Bush or anti-Kerry art. Four curators with dozens of years of contacts can't find art that disagrees with them. Idiots. Well, as we have warned since we started this blog, this is what incestuous legimization gets you: one-side, sophomoric political cartoons.

Read Watson's piece to see nobody except ASU executive director of public events Colleen Jennings-Roggensack stand up for America. Everybody else is worryin and scurryin, jukin and jivin. Funny but pathetic.

Posted by Jerome at 11:53 PM | TrackBack