February 22, 2009

In defence of Art !

Why can't we leave artists alone! The creative outpourings of art cannot be curtailed to accommodate the fickle demands of an overtly moralistic society. Cartoonists have a perspective that is unique to their art, and our inability to appreciate/understand their vision must not convert into taking punitive measures against them or their creativity.

Agreed, that the editor of the NY Post could have used better judgment and could have chosen to withhold this cartoon , but he did not, and suddenly all hell broke loose for artist Delonas. There have been other artists who have suffered a similar predicament: M. F. Hussein in India, Danish cartoonists with Jyllands Posten in Brussels, Amiri Baraka in New Jersey, Salman Rushdie in England, Solzenitsyn in Russia of the 60s, Neruda and Allende in Chile, Taslima Nasreen in Bangladesh, and many more in various parts of the world during various times in human history. The point to be noted is that the darkest hours of human history were also the darkest times for art and artists; be it during the Holocaust, the Great Depression, the McCarthy Era, the Crusades, or during the World Wars. Whenever and wherever art is suffocated there has always been a price to pay and a vital truth to be hidden. Suffocating art is like suffocating a civilization. Art may not cater to trends in socio moralistic behaviors or may at times even defy other socio political parameters, but as 'art', it must have its freedom lest we end up becoming a uni dimensional civilization.

Art presupposes freedom of the mind and consequently a freedom of expression. Delonas''s cartoon, though offensive to some of us, and definitely inopportune with some 'clear racial implications', is, after all, an artist's unique perception. If it got published due to the oversight or the in discretionary practices of publishers and newspapers, then why does art have to pay a price?

15 comments:

Eshuneutics said...

Hi. Did Alcaraz draw the cartoon? Your links say that it was Delonas. I'm a little confused. That having been said, I'm not sure that I know if this is racist or not. It only becomes racist if I make the monkey=Black=Obama link. If I dispense with that, though, I don't get the cartoon. An ape goes "ape shit" and the Bill is an example of "political shit" is about as good as I can do, so the two equate. If I read with Marechera eyes, I'd say disturbed monkey=ratio unbalanced=political unreason. Does killing the monkey mean killing the Bill? I'd defend the right to free expression, but this is poor political comment, to me...

Id it is said...

Eshu,
The cartoon shown is Delonas, but Alcaraz has been receiving a lot of flak for some of his recent creations. I wanted to keep the NY Post cartoon, and that added to the confusion...
thanks for the heads up.

berenice said...

hi id it is
i applaud you for defending the freedom of speech and of art!!
for God sake's this is the United States of America, "the land of the free" right?? so regardless of agreeing or not with somebody's art we must allow the artists to express themselves... I leave you with one of my favorite quotes on Censorship

"Censorship reflects society's lack of confidence in itself. It is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime." ~Potter Stewart

D said...

Freedom is an illusion.

sr said...

I don't understand how, on the one hand, censorship of the cartoonist by the editor is alright but, on the other hand, protests by the public against the cartoon are not alright? Aren't they both forms of stifling the artist's "freedom of expression"?

Personally, I am not sure of how far I agree with your view that art is unassailable. That would imply that any action committed by an artist is above judgement simply because it may be art. I am not sure that is a good idea...

But, I do agree that artists require some level of freedom of expression. I guess I'm just not sure where on the continuum of freedom-responsibility art should be placed.

Eshuneutics said...

Hi, thanks for explaining. Sometimes, I'm too far away to know the whole picture.
Freedom is an illusion: that's a depressing thought!

Id it is said...

D,
That's a pretty bleak outlook; is this assessment colored by a temporarily jaundiced vision? :)

Id it is said...

SR,
I don't grudge the protests; people are free to express their annoyance. Also, the editor is right in doing the job he is paid to do which is to go through the write-ups/ cartoons that are submitted by the public in the hope that they will be published. Now it is up to the discretion of the editor what he decides is going to be in the best interest of all those who matter. While doing that he may do inadvertently or otherwise sacrifice art for capitalistic gain, but he isn't suppressing the artist who will perhaps submit yet another creation a few weeks later; which again may or may not get published. However, the spirit of creativity and optimism thrives in the artist who believes that one day, very soon his creation will be there for all to see, and this hope keeps him going.

As for 'artist is above judgment because it may be art'; that isn't the inference I intended. If a man, who is also an artist, decides to pull a trigger on another, he is obviously a criminal and deserves to be punished even if he claims that the blood and gore spattered on the wall behind the victim was an artistic outpouring. What 'may be art' does not kill; if it does then it isn't art.
I may have oversimplified this one :)

Id it is said...

Eshu,
Your input is always on the mark, and where art and artists are concerned regardless of how distant you may be physically, you have their pulse!

human being said...

am
with
you
Id...

the word verification is 'witch'...
funny...

reading your post, i was reminded of many artists who were and are suffocated just because they are breathing a new life into our souls...

and many regard this a holy act like burning witches...

Rabbi Lars Shalom said...

ooog

starry nights said...

I agree with you ID..Just as there is freedom of speech why should there not be freedom of Art.No matter what you do, some will be offended and some not.cannot please everybody.It is hard to be politically correct always.

A_N_Nanda said...

Aha! Your post reminds me of the famous poem of Rabindra Nath Tagore: "Where the mind is without fear..."

A very thought-provoking post indeed.

Thanks

Nanda
http://ramblingnanda.blogspot.com

Saadia said...

I do think there are limitations to everything. I somebody decided to become a naturalist artist in my neighbourhood one day, and decides to express himself/herself by running naked on the streets, I will object. So will almost everybody else. But to that one person, it'll be art.

So I do believe there have to be limits. Granted that people's sensitivities are so many and so diverse, but I'm sure a reasonable equilibrium can still be reached.

Georg said...

Bonjour Id,

Feel embarrassed to admit, I just don't understand this cartoon. The ape on the ground, the two cops, the car, the text. Can't make it fit together.

If you have some time to spare, could you explain this. I even read all 14 comments but that didn't bring any light either.

Cheers
Georg