Monday, January 26, 2009

If You Have to Apologize for It, You Probably Shouldn't Buy It

I look to my left hand and see the can opener...I look to my right and see the tin of worms...hmmm...?

As anyone who's read here long knows, I hold a low opinion of most so-called political art. To use art to advance a political agenda, per se, always compromises the output in my view. That's not to say great art cannot touch on political subjects, but as soon as a work is designed to advance one point of view (as opposed to reflect the truth as honestly as the artist can convey it) to the exclusion of obvious other points of views, it ceases to be just art and become propaganda IMHO.

To put it another way, for art dealing with a political subject to be successful for me it needs to reveal something universally true and avoid using that to hit the viewer over the head with the artist's personal opinions on the issue. I'm not naive enough to believe an artist can ever completely remove their opinion from a piece (not and make it any good, that is), but if the universality of the work doesn't completely outweigh the political stand, it typically falls flat for me.

One piece that stands out in my mind as succeeding (indeed, the single most powerful piece of art dealing with a political subject I've seen in the last decade) is Emily Jacir's Where We Come From (2001-2003). I had such an emotional reaction to this work when I first saw it at Debs & Co. in 2003. New York Times critic Holland Cotter thought highly of it as well. The piece is a document of a performance in which Jacir asked Palestinians living outside their homeland and unable to return: ''If I could do something for you, anywhere in Palestine, what would it be?'' She then used her American passport to enter those places to perform requests such as "Go to Haifa and play soccer with the first Palestinian boy you see on the street" or ''Visit my mother, hug and kiss her and tell her that these are from her son. Visit the sea at sunset and smell it for me and walk a little bit . . . enough. Am I too greedy?'' The piece is comprised of photos of her completing the requests with accompanying texts in English and Arabic.

It's obviously a highly loaded piece, but it works because it connects the dots between the humanity of the viewer and that of the families kept apart by a political situation with no apparent end in sight.

Recently acquired and exhibited at SFMOMA, Jacir's piece has stirred up another sort of controversy. Rather, the museum has, it seems. Tyler Green reports:
The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, which recently acquired Emily Jacir's Where We Come From, attached an unusual wall-text to the work when it first exhibited it this winter. [...] The 'extra' SFMOMA wall-text, printed in subscript beneath a more traditional museum-style text read:
SFMOMA is committed to exhibiting and acquiring works by local, national and international artists that represent a diversity of viewpoints and positions. Works of art can engender valuable discussion about a range of topics including those that are difficult and contested, such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Additional information about Emily Jacir's Where We Come From, including a list of frequently asked questions, is available at the information desk in the Haas Atrium.
It is common for museum wall-text to provide art-historical context for a work of art or an explanation of how the work came to be made. (SFMOMA's primary wall text does just that.) But while museums regularly show work that addresses complicated topics, it's extremely unusual for a museum to install a wall-text directly excusing a work's geo- or socio-political roots. There is no such text attached to SFMOMA's online collection record of the work.
As Tyler reports as well, the museum has explained their decision to contextualize (in my opinion, apologize for) their exhibition of Jacir's piece in this unusual way via a statement by their spokesperson Libby Garrison:
The decision [to add the text] was made by the curators and the director, the trustees were not involved. It was made because when the work was on view (without wall text) during the acquisition process, we received numerous letters of concern from visitors who saw it on the wall. In response and for the exhibition, we felt we should contextualize the piece acknowledging the sensitivities that surround it. We deeply believe in the merits of her work but of course, are not taking political sides.
Everyone I've talked with this about over the past few weeks (yes, I was aware of the controversy before Tyler's post) had the same immediate thought occur to them...that some trustee or other important leader of the museum (presumably one who feels strongly about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict) objected to the exhibition of the piece. So trained are we to expect the worst impulses of people in response to any news from this region, and perhaps to expect all museum decisions to stem from the top down, as opposed to, as Garrison explains, from the bottom up, that such responses were natural, I believe (indeed that was my first thought as well).

Still, whether the impetus to apologize for the piece came from some trustee or an avalanche of viewer mail, my overarching reaction to this decision remains the same. I have no problem with a museum taking sides. I believe a museum should reflect the values and opinions of the people who support it and patronize it. I believe a museum should present thought-provoking exhibitions and challenge its public, but not intentionally offend it.

Having said all that, however, I feel a museum owes it to the artists whose work they acquire to stand behind that work, without apology or excuse. If you cannot present a work without an extraordinary explanation, you're probably not the institution that should have that work or present it to your public. In other words, the forum in which to "contextualize the piece acknowledging the sensitivities that surround it" is before the acquisition committee, not before the public. If you decide it's right for your institution, stand behind it unequivocally.

P.S. I've blogged in the political sphere long enough to know you can't open a discussion touching on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict without inviting emotional charges from all sides. To help keep this thread on topic (which is whether it's appropriate for an institution to apologize for a piece they exhibit), I will note now that no comment that diverts off into whether or not Israel has a right to protect itself or there are players in the Palestinian world hellbent on harming Israel will be posted. Yes, all of that is brought up by the piece, but if the best diplomatic minds of the past 50 years haven't been able to resolve the conflict, we're hardly going to do so here. Again, no comment with charges against either side of the conflict will be posted. Please stay on topic: is it appropriate for a museum to apologize for exhibiting a piece? I feel that that is what SFMOMA has done here, and I find it highly disappointing.

Labels: art museums,


Blogger Aaron Wexler said...

My first thought on the addition of text goes immediately to cinema. Similar to the dreaded narration added after filming. When this happens (think Bladerunner before the directors cut was released) it's obvious the production company is afraid that the general public just "won't get it" or "will be offended" or "put off". The museum is doing the same thing(?)

I do feel the museum is morally obligated to exhibit the piece in it's pure (is that the right word?) form.
However, If the museum bought the piece, it owns it now. Unless there was something specific in the contract that the museum is now breaching... well, tough cookies.

My question then is, who really owns art?

1/26/2009 09:22:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Unless there was something specific in the contract that the museum is now breaching... well, tough cookies.

I think that's the ultimate legal stand here, yes, but that doesn't mean the public can't still object.

I agree with your comparison to the cinema voice over. Of course in that context, I fault the filmmaker, not the theater. A closer parallel would be a cinema owner adding his own disclaimer to the beginning or ending of a film.

1/26/2009 09:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can we equate this to a newspaper like the The New York Times apologizing for an article that sympathizes with the Palestinians?

A museum that is exhibiting political art, like a newspaper should be able to raise and promote discussion of issues that are controversial whether or not they're a reflection of the beliefs of that institution. An apology makes me doubt their conviction in not so much where they stand on the Israeli/Palestinian issue, but on their belief in the role that art can play in inspiring political thought.

1/26/2009 10:11:00 AM  
Anonymous marshall said...

I won't show work in my gallery if it demands or requires some kind of wall text defense, including works that "might contain offensive language or nudity". By isolating work with such a defense, the institution or curator is changing the nature of the work, and distorting the viewer's perceptions of the work in an unnatural way.

1/26/2009 10:12:00 AM  
Blogger Catherine Spaeth said...

I have had the opportunity to - without any warning - bring people to see contemporary Palestinian art. One show in particular was funded by a political Palestinian organization, and it was amazing. It is always the case that emotions are aroused, and in some instances even rude behavior. What has occurred is that people are often surprised by their very personal emotional reactions, sometimes apologetic for their feelings and sometimes not. The Jacir piece you speak of is actually relatively tame - it does not arouse anger, even disbelief (denial) to the extent that other work by Palestinain artists does.

There was a noticeable lack of critical examination of the Jewish Museum's"Dateline Israel." This was a good effort by that museum to exhibit "documentary" work of the conflict, and of course some artists who were invited did not want to participate. As I recall, Alys turned them down, and exhibited his Green Line at Zwirner at the same time. So the content of the show was of course affected by (political) decisions beyond the intentions of the curators.

1/26/2009 10:19:00 AM  
Anonymous Oriane said...

The part I find most suspicious is that the museum won't give even one example of the "concern" expressed by viewers. What could this concern be? "I was offended that you showed the modest wishes of Palestinians being carried out"? "This legitimizes my enemy as human and this upsets me"?

1/26/2009 11:02:00 AM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

I've been curiously oversensitive to things lately -- I cried at the most recent episode of "Desperate Housewives," for example -- and yet I don't see this as anything all that serious. SFMOMA's "extra" wall text doesn't seem all that apologetic to me. It's a little mealy-mouthed, maybe, but not egregious. The FAQ isn't much different. It's a little odd to expect viewers to chain through all this -- movie, wall text, FAQ on separate piece of paper -- but it's not that bad.

It does sound like the piece doesn't require that much, unless some of the content is more incendiary than what's discussed here. I mean, "Go hug my mom" -- should we be incensed that Palestinians are humans?

Anyway, this just seems a bit small to qualify as a controversy. Not like that starving dog incident!

1/26/2009 12:09:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

Oh, and: I agree with your title, Ed. If you bought it, stand behind it. I'm just not sure the extra text qualifies as not doing so.

1/26/2009 12:10:00 PM  
Blogger Pretty Lady said...

After thinking about this for awhile, I have to say that I agree completely with Ed. This apology strikes me as an act of cowardice, couched in politically correct terms. You simply don't make a statement like "Palestinians are people, too! Well, but that's just one person's opinion, we're not taking sides, of course..."

It seems to me that curators and institutions which do things like this want the attention that comes from 'posing controversial questions' without the responsibility of taking a well-thought-through ethical stand, potentially at a cost to themselves. Cowardly, cowardly, cowardly.

1/26/2009 12:16:00 PM  
Anonymous The Impossibility of Being Human said...

should we be incensed that humans are humans

1/26/2009 12:31:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

I've already censored one comment that suggested a bias on the part of the Museum. I'm asking folks to refrain from any such assertions. Please limit your comments to the appropriateness of the decision in generic terms without projecting political views upon the museum. Otherwise, experience has shown me, we'll move down a path of bickering that overshadows the issue at it EVER appropriate to apologize for artwork?

I agree with your title, Ed. If you bought it, stand behind it. I'm just not sure the extra text qualifies as not doing so.

Fair enough...but why not?

1/26/2009 12:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Judith said...

Q: is it EVER appropriate to apologize for artwork?


1/26/2009 12:43:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

PL sez:
"Palestinians are people, too! Well, but that's just one person's opinion, we're not taking sides, of course..."

Okay, when you put it that way, yeah, an apology seems dumb.

1/26/2009 12:45:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

I don't know. It just doesn't sound all that apologetic to me. It sounds a little like they're saying, "Okay, this piece has the word 'Palestinian' in it, but do us a favor and look at it before you get mad." Pretty Lady thinks it sounds much worse than that.

I don't know. It seems to me I've seen disclaimers like this before in plenty of places. In a museum? Maybe not. Maybe that's the stretch. It just doesn't sound to me like an apology, more like encouragement to think a bit more before judging.

I mean, I kind of object to wall text in general, so maybe I'm missing degrees of wall textiness.

1/26/2009 12:54:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

An example of an institution not standing behind its works: When Rockefeller Center pulled Eric Fischl's "Tumbling Woman". That's failing to live up to the "you bought it, stand behind it" ethos. (Of course, Fischl agreed with pulling the sculpture -- Rockefeller Center checked with him, I think -- although in a recent interview he said he regrets the decision.)

1/26/2009 12:57:00 PM  
Blogger Marc Snyder said...

I'm not sure I see it as an apology so much as the kind of disclaimer you hear all the time in other media when someone is stating an opinion - "the views of the author are his or hers and not necessarily those of the station", etc. The author gets the airtime because of his/her track record of saying interesting things in interesting ways that people want to hear. . . not because of the specific content of the particular commentary being aired.

Just as you wanted the comments in this thread to stay on topic, focussed on the issue at hand and not on the Israel/Palestine conflict, perhaps the museum wanted to avoid a flood of commentary concerning something outside of the work over which they had no control.

I certainly think a museum can purchase artwork that has strong political content for reasons other than standing behind the artist's political beliefs. Actually, I think they should, if they want to build a collection that isn't a form of political commentary but is a cross-section of strong artwork that deals with contemporary issues.

I guess the situation is muddied by this being the only piece for which a disclaimer is made. . .

1/26/2009 12:59:00 PM  
Blogger Catherine Spaeth said...

Ed's ps: "you can't open a discussion touching on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict without inviting emotional charges from all sides."

wall text: "Works of art can engender valuable discussion about a range of topics including those that are difficult and contested..."

1/26/2009 01:14:00 PM  
Anonymous MPG said...

The sign makes me a little queasy, too. I have thought about this in the context of a museum displaying warning signs that galleries contain nudity or "difficult subject matter." I appreciate that visitors -- and visitors with kids -- take a leap of faith when they visit a contemporary art museum. They might not like everything, they might not "get" everything, and it might be helpful to give them tools to make the experience a positive one. That said, singling out a (possibly) sexually explicit or politically charged artwork for a sign is a problem -- why that issue, and not this one? Why that nude, and not this one? It suggests, indirectly perhaps, that there really is something wrong or morally incorrect about this particular viewpoint, or this particular nude, that makes it warrant a warning sign.

1/26/2009 01:27:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

It's possible to read the SFMOMA text as affirmative.

That they understand the work might be controversial but the are exhibiting it anyway?

1/26/2009 01:31:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

Judith sez:
Q: is it EVER appropriate to apologize for artwork?


Oh, I don't know. I've seen plenty of art for which I'd accept an apology.

1/26/2009 01:46:00 PM  
Anonymous John Haber said...

There's something fascinating about the text's rhetoric. The museum phrases a statement that it stands behind the work so as not to stand behind the work.

On your generally low opinion of political art, now I'm curious: do you see Kasmalieva and Djumaliev as political artists?

1/26/2009 01:49:00 PM  
Anonymous John Haber said...

Oh, another irony: Jacir later made art out of email that she received responding, often with dismay, to that art. (It wasn't so hot, but maybe it's looking better now.)

1/26/2009 02:11:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

do you see Kasmalieva and Djumaliev as political artists?

Not at all. They're sociological artists.

When they delve into the political side of an exploration, as sociology naturally does does, they take an extremely objective and balanced look at issues, outcomes, and processes.

"Revolution," their piece with the clearest association to a succinct political issue, is actually a good example of what I personally look for in art which takes politics as its subject: it's intentionally balanced, almost to the point of falling part, but then their poetic sensibilities bring it back together. It's exhilarating and eye-opening (they're incredibly smart artists IMO) to see how long term a view they took in producing that piece.

Ask me sometime, and I'll show it to you.

1/26/2009 02:45:00 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

I do agree that institutions ought to stand next to the work they exhibit, and yes-napologetically. However what peaks my interest here is the moment where an institution challenges the current of its political leanings in a way that forces a critical dialogue with the material on exhibit.

The moment the material is found offensive, then the work is received only for a moment before its viewer then takes on a defensive point of view. That is (one of many reasons) why political art requires a certain amount of tact in order to be affective. After all, people talking past one another rather than to one another hardly leaves room for any amount of global cultural development.

The sticky part about this is where to draw the line between offensive and challenging. Since no line can assertively be drawn between the two, there ought to be a framework set up for when the line has been crossed (on the basis of individual readership). It certainly is not tasteful for institutions to intentionally offend their visitors, however I believe it to be even more tastless to exhibit work that does not pertain to any amount of cultural growth and development.

In the case of SFMOMA concerning Emily Jacir's work, a disclaimer (regardless of its placement) would change the work entirely. Jacir's work is ironically unapologetic and to make it so disallows it the opportunity for viewers who would be affected by it to actually confront thier own issues with it and instead gives them a venue to voice (and perhaps defend) thier opion. It is important to give space for voices to be heard, but to do so at the expense of changing the content of the work is just poor curating- unless of course changing the content of the work was the intention of the curator.

By giving Jacir's work a disclaimer to misdirect much of her content into a "safe" place where her controversiality no longer needs to be discussed. It is very much a deflation content.

I'm sure their reasoning for a safety net was...well...reasonable, but not necessarily appropriate.

1/26/2009 03:38:00 PM  
Blogger mbuitron said...

It seems to me that anything that remotely suggests criticism of Israel on par with naked photos of children. When you think about a book like Lolita, praise for Nabakov has to be yoked with commentary on Humbert Humbert's "deplorable act." Likewise work that humanizes Israel's geographical neighbors gets couched, reframed, or installed with disclaimers.

Looking at the 30,000 year history of art making compared to the 60 year history of the state of Israel, I expect that the wall text is a short-lived distraction that will be outlasted by the art. Likewise, a show of Moorish art in Spain today wouldn't invoke the wrath of the inquisition, and the Prado's curators should have no fear Jesuits rounding them up to be burned at the stake.

I would counter that any art institution unwilling to exhibit controversial art (with or without disclaimers) is unwilling to represent the diversity of art practices today...and this would include work with nudity, profanity, religious, political, and cultural content.

Kudos to SFMoMA for buying and showing the work. I expect that this discussion around the supplemental wall text is not far from the discussion Jacir hoped to ignite with the creation of her work in the first place.

1/26/2009 04:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that it's especially important to remember how important text is to this particular Jacir work. Half of the work is text.

Ergo, the incursion of a text that isnt' the artist's is on shaky ground....


1/26/2009 04:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

It seems to me that anything that remotely suggests criticism of Israel on par with naked photos of children.

So much for keeping the thread politically neutral.

The added text and the FAQ suggest one thing only: that a significant number of people have asked the museum whether it is taking sides in the Israel-Palestine conflict. Common sense would indicate that the museum is within its rights to say that it is not. (Or, what the hell, that it is. They have First Amendment rights too.)

Tyler compares the Jacir work with other potentially offensive works that did not get extra labeling at SFMOMA, disdaining to consider that they did not relate topically to an active military conflict and in all probability did not engender a similar response. Tyler's efforts to drive opinion towards the conclusion that the museum has done something inappropriate are journalistically unsound and speak poorly about his own neutrality in the matter. (In 2006 I noted that Tyler highlighted Jacir's work at the Electronic Intifada and to its support of a cultural boycott of Israel.)

The Jacir under discussion is sentimental in the extreme, but I suppose that's another topic.

1/26/2009 06:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric Casp said...

Oh my Gawd, two gods of art blogging just appeared in this thread: John Haber and Tyler Green.

I don't really know how to add anything brilliant to the conversation, but: Has anyone asked what Jacir think herself of this situation?

I cannot know if a museum respects an artist or not until I know the artist's opinion. Her work seems to be used in political discussions that might inflate on the intentions of the artist. I'd like to hear her opinion: where does she draw a line on what she assumes her work to weigh, politically?


Cedric Caspesyan

1/26/2009 06:35:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

It seems to me that anything that remotely suggests criticism of Israel on par with naked photos of children.

So much for keeping the thread politically neutral.

Yeah, I wavered on whether or not to post that comment, but in the end thought the rest of the comment balanced enough to let it stand. I would ask folks again to take the museum at their word and avoid implying the museum had taken a side in the conflict. The topic of this thread is not about how the conflict is discussed in this or any other context, but whether a controversial artwork should be "contextualized" (to my mind apologized for) after being acquired.

The Jacir under discussion is sentimental in the extreme, but I suppose that's another topic.

I wouldn't say "extreme." It blends simple actions one can relate to with exotic names and photos of people who don't dress anything like Westerners's a bit of a stretch to call it sentimental in the extreme, assuming sentimental connotes an air of nostalgia-influenced rose-color glasses observing. I can't feel nostalgic about a place I've never been, and I found it powerful, so I don't think "sentimental" accurately describes it.

As for the other contexts the work has been exhibited in, that's an issue to take up with those curators, not critics who commented on it. Unless, of course, you're actually seeking to push the thread into some politically un-neutral tangent. :-)

1/26/2009 06:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

If I'd present in a museum a video of Paul McCarthy soaking his giant penis in chocolate and screaming like a madman.....maybeee I'd feel like writting "the views of the artist exhibited don't necessarely correspond to the curatorial view".

I think this is a tempest in a glass of water. Or is this the beginning of World War III?

If people are so upset about the Jacir piece, than let them write en masse to the museum, and when we'll know that the work has been removed by popular demand, than we'll know how that will actually be helpful to the artists's career. Voila. I don't think a mere wall text will prevent people from being upset or not, if they feel they have to.

Cedric Casp

1/26/2009 07:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

I see no evidence that the museum is apologizing for or apologetically contextualizing this work. I'm thinking that some museum professional gave the We Are Not Taking Sides speech to the fiftieth irritated caller and decided, to hell with this, let's put up a label and supply a FAQ so I can do something else with my day. Thus far, Tyler has presented no evidence that conflicts with that scenario and his implications of malfeasance are shabby.

The piece can be mawkish and bathetic without being nostalgic. We're not going to agree on this work in several respects and I respectfully decline to derail your thread. I shouldn't have remarked on it as art in the first place.

1/26/2009 07:34:00 PM  
Blogger Catherine Spaeth said...

Tyler Green is right. The museum is speaking to its detractors, covering its ass by managing dissent. Would this have happened if we were talking about the Israeli-born and Jewish Yael Bartana? here is a description of Wild Seeds, currently at PS1:

"In the first "Wild Seeds," Yael Bartana filmed a group of 18-year-old Israeli pacifists playing a game called the “Evacuation of Gilad’s Colony,” based on Israel’s forced removal of Jewish settlers from the Occupied Territories. Against a breathtaking rural backdrop, the participants tried to resist and break away from two of their own teammates who had volunteered to act as “authorities.” The game’s serious subtext became more explicit as the players’ language mimicked the actual words used by the evacuated settlers." (

It is idle conjecture to guess if Bartana's would have had wall text.(is it?) But what we do know is that it definitely happened in the case of a Palestinian artist.

Sexual content is another story, in our culture it is appropriate for parents to decide what level of kinkiness their children should see, and I would not want either children or a bit of raunch to be off limits in the museum setting. This seems to me an entirely different situation for warning texts.

Also, Tyler's added point about polluting a text-based work with "official language" makes sense to me, in fact the words of Palestinian exiles in their letters are being overidden by an authoritative voice not too far away from ethnography, presenting Jacir's letters as its own documents and handing out an information pamphlet besides.

1/26/2009 07:51:00 PM  
Blogger namastenancy said...

I'm wondering if other wall texts haven't been used for art that could be considered political. I remember the Kyra Walker exhibit at SF MOMA some time ago. Of course, nobody is going to openly advocate the return of slavery or the oppression of African-Americans but wasn't there a lot of "informational" text. I could be wrong and certainly slavery is no longer a political hot-button in the U.S. - although the treatment of people of color certainly still is. When I saw Jacir's work, I appreciated knowing her perspective because the work is not neutral and deals with such a difficult geo-political situation.

1/26/2009 10:16:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

Gee, Ed, you keep letting through non-neutral comments, like Catherine's. I was going to suggest -- knee-jerk of me, perhaps -- that many of the people who assumed the wall text was a top-down instruction possibly also assumed those at the top were Jews. But I figured that'd be commenting on the particulars of the case, not the more general discussion we were supposed to be having.

Seems to me Israel, Palestine, America, all of those things are irrelevant to the question of apologies for art.

Personally I'm annoyed on some level by all disclaimers. Obviously a lot of people are because for so many years now it's been hip to make the disclaimers funny -- while still disclamatory -- and to hide jokes in there. And yet we're all still disclaiming. I'd really like to know how often someone tells the lawyers to go scratch, we're going to show this car careening down a mountain road, wrapped in brown paper like a UPS parcel, on fire, with small children waving gaily from the luggage rack, and dammit, we're NOT GOING TO SLAP ANY FINE PRINT ON IT, because anyone who tries this is CLEARLY a FUCKWIT.

So, you know, although I don't think this particular disclaimer sounds like an apology, and I don't really care about wall text anyhow, I can see where art having a disclaimer is irritating. I don't like the "warning: you may see naked people" stuff either, as MPG wrote earlier. I admit to being thrown off by the life-sized statue of the guy gripping his cock in the front window of Stux not too long ago, but that was partly because the guy wasn't my type.

Er, I'm rambling. I'm trying to say that I understand why people might be taken aback by a disclaimer on the art -- the art world is supposed to be above all that. It's art, dammit! But of course we're not really, are we?

That's really the question on the table, though, not whether this work was singled out because of its politics. That would be another whole discussion, one much more heated and irrational.

1/27/2009 12:49:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Seems to me Israel, Palestine, America, all of those things are irrelevant to the question of apologies for art.

I had hoped they would be here, but that's perhaps too optimistic of me. I've never once been able to discuss the conflict without feeling extreme pressure (from both sides) to ignore the failings of one or the's so freaking frustrating that I choose to keep my opinions to myself.

1/27/2009 08:30:00 AM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

Embarassing moment at PS1: When I visited I was with someone and we entered a Yael Bartana room and I said "Oh!..I think this is Emily Jacir. She's this great palestinian artist." Then after a few seconds..... Ooops, err... Let me check: Hmmph, it's an artist from Israel.

The thing is I knew the truck piece and somehow I mixed it in my head as being from Jacir.

Mevertheless, I like to interprete this mix-up as an expression of my confusion about about the inherent politics in all these works.....

Cedric C

1/27/2009 09:21:00 AM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

Ed sez:
I've never once been able to discuss the conflict without feeling extreme pressure (from both sides)...

Never get involved in a land war in Asia and never discuss abortion or Israel.

1/27/2009 04:26:00 PM  
Blogger BenjaminL said...

I rather thought the text was defending the Jacir piece from attack -- not apologizing for it.

2/02/2009 09:59:00 PM  

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