The readings about censorship in art really bring up the issue of challenging the status quo. A lot of art is made to do just that, to push people away from their norms and make the public think critically. Maybe that's why, like the "Art in Russia: Under Attack" article said, the "Soviet government understood art very well: they understood it had to be tightly controlled" (Page 1). The SU wanted to control their public, and restricting art was a very good way to prevent any unwanted ideas from reaching the public.
What I found interesting, was that a people's organization was stifling the "Forbidden Art" exhibition. The right-wing organization was offended by the anti-religious views expressed, so they went to Moscow prosecutors (Page 1, Art in Russia: Under Attack). This is kind of interesting because the people are kind of censoring themselves in a way. The group was very nationalist and conservative, but it wasn't actually the government censoring art until the group brought it to the attention of the police.
I think this brings up an interesting point about how people censor themselves when it comes to art. When the public sees something they find morally wrong or controversial in art, censoring it can be very damaging to society as a whole. How could we come up with new ideas or challenge people in power if all the art contrary to the norm is shut down before it can spread?
In America, where the government is a bit less controlling of artists, much of the NY public had different views about the "offensive" painting. There are people who say, "I can't believe that this has caused this commotion," and, "I don’t know. I don’t have an adverse reaction to it. You know, it’s someone’s view on something," as well as people who say, "I’m furious about this. This is a tremendous insult to the mother of my God and to me" (Page 2, The Art of Controversy). If people like the latter person tried to censor the art, how would there be any challenges or anything that upsets the standardized form of thinking?
The government is trying to shut down that religiously offensive painting in NY, but is that right? I don't think so because the government, at least our government, isn't supposed to try and promote or protect any one religion. I bet if there was a painting that was incredibly offensive to another religion, the government wouldn't be as ready to censor it.
Overall, I think that censoring art, whether it be the government or the people, is a really poor way to encourage new ideas. This might be a good thing for the government in a place like the Soviet Union, but otherwise it keeps the public in a thinking rut. Art that's made to push boundaries needs to be able to be seen so it can push those boundaries.
In the article, there was a passing reference to propaganda and how we think of historically iconic works of art as propaganda. Since this is a topic we’ve discussed a lot in class, I decided to look at it and connect it to some of my own thoughts on propaganda and another student’s post about it. Laylah Ali mentions, in reference to whether Diego Rivera’s murals’ aesthetics devalue their social impact, that “There is always the valid counterarguement about what constitutes propaganda –but I think context is very important.” She asks if “a work like Rivera’s [was] a reiteration of the dominant system,” and I think this is a really interesting way of looking at propaganda. She goes on to say that Rivera’s work didn’t follow that definition, implying that it isn’t propaganda.
Looking at Matt’s post on propaganda and art, I’d like to analyze what he looked at to see if it fits Ali’s definition of propaganda. The first piece, where ISIS stole an image from Brian McCarty and used it for their own group, I’d consider follows the definition we have in mind. In that area, ISIS is kind of like a dominant, or at least a dominating system. An additional tenant to Ali’s definition of not-propaganda is that the work “was a critique that also presented alternatives.” Obviously, ISIS is not presenting alternative ideas or critiquing things so I think we can say this work is ISIS propaganda. The Socialist Realism works the same way. Socialism and a strict government were indeed a dominant system and their art made no room for alternatives. Critiquing the society at the time was forbidden, so this is another classic example of propaganda.
I just think this is a really interesting way to look at whether an artwork is propaganda. It’s simple, yet effective. I think we should try and analyze more works of art in this manner, and Laylah Ali’s thoughts about the matter, although only mentioned in passing, were very insightful and helped me think about art and propaganda.
Matt's Post: http://mladocsi.weebly.com/blog/february-28th-2016
Seeing a bunch of art from VCU grad students was really cool. A lot of the art was really different in different departments and mediums, but even so it was very enjoyable. Some of my favourite pieces were: sculptures that were made out of sandalwood and rosewood that you're supposed to rub and interact with, sculptures with the Islamic coverings on them and the video where people playing them were doing things like playing baseball, and metal things that changed shadows when you change the lighting. All of those were really cool, but there were also a lot of paintings in a room arrangement and other types of interesting art.
It overall was really cool because it showed me how a bunch of different work could be represented in the same space but not look disjointed and disparate. Also all the work was presented really professionally so it makes me think about my presentation of my work. It was really cool to see and a lot of fun.