Showing posts from October 16, 2005

Serrano and Other Such Things

A former student of mine (who runs the Asheville Green Room blog linked to at right) responds to my corruption of young minds:

So a bullwhip up the ass and a photograph of a crucifix in a jar of urine is not credible art? Or is it that the creators of such art are not taking responsibility for the influence their art has on others?When is it okay for an artist to challenge the public? Who decides? If 9 out of ten people decide that the Piss Christ artist is being irresponsible, does that make it so? I remember seeing that photo for the first time and thinking - "heh, it's kinda pretty. Nice orange and red tint, the christ figure is seen at a distance and a little blurred, but still held in regal dignity by the pose on the cross. What a good metaphor for Christianity in the 20th Century."Ahhh, but others disn't see it tht way.

When The Nat' Museum in Victoria closed the exhibit, the press release did not comment upon the reaction to the phot - it laid bare the feeli…

Corrupting Young Minds

Below is the text of a recent lecture I gave to a group of freshmen (and also my Theatre History I class, who came for moral support -- and because I was taking attendance) who are in a freshman colloquium class investigating the topic of censorship. Both the freshmen and my students were a wonderful audience.

This is a long post, but I don't know how to link to it instead of putting it on the blog. Also, a chunk at the end is cut and paste from a recent blog post (can you plagiarize yourself?). Anyway, none of this will be new to anyone who has been reading this blog of late, but it does put my argument into a wider context. Here it is:

I came here today to talk about the role of the artist – specifically, the artist’s responsibility. I want to start today with an argument between two old philosophers, Plato and Aristotle back in the 4th century BCE. Aristotle was one of Plato’s students, and he spent 20 years studying with him. The argument arose out of a book Plato wrote called T…
I lied -- I have free internet in my room here in Denver. So I'll be checking in...

Allison Croggon leaves an intriguing comment:

The "classics" - depending how they're done, and which ones you're talking about - tend not to be very healing. They leave the world torn and open and unresolved. (Obviously, I think classic=tragedy). On the one hand, they might give the world a formal shape, but on the other, what they expose is raw woundedness, irresolvability. How does taming the Eumenides "resolve" the crimes, say, of Iphigenia's death, Agememnon's murder, Orestes' matricide? Something, to paraphrase Beckett, plays itself out, and that is all.

I'm with Isaac - artists who think they are bringing an audience "meaning" are being very above themselves. Surely that is an ultimate vanity? Who are they to impose healing when the world is full of fractures? Moreover, if theatre is supposed to make the wounds heal, then isn't it being…

Gone Fishin'

Folks -- Just to let you know, I will be gone to Denver to attend a conference Thursday through Saturday. I will be taking my laptop, but I don't know whether there will be internet available where I am, and if so whether I will be able to afford it! So in my absence, I hope you will all continue the conversation amongst yourselves and at the fine blogs I have linked to.

Matt Freeman Does "Hamlet"

Matt Freeman writes on his blog "On Theatre and Politics":

"I could put a sheet over my head and act out Hamlet in my bedroom in my boxer shorts. It's only Theatre when I set up two small chairs in my room and let people watch."

An image I invite you all to ponder...


In the comments for my previous post, Isaac argues:

"I don't think our world has meaning. Therefore, providing "meaning" to the audience member is merely drugging them with intellectual ritalin. I think what we are seeing in our world is one that is suffused with alienation and disconnection, and as artists what we can give to an audience is an experience that (even briefly) works against that alienation and disconnection.Your thoughts?"

Isaac, I have a stepson who is Philosophy major, so I recognize the fact that nibbling on that particular worm that you so casually dangle (I imagine your eyes wide with innocence as you type "Your thoughts?") will lead to a hook in my lip and a sudden yank to a world where I flop around helpless and gasping for breath. So I will politely decline that particular bait.

However, I will swim close enough to say this:

Your statement itself, Isaac, is meaning-full: it places human beings ("the artists") within a lar…

Striking a Balance

While George Hunka humorously paints a picture of me "standing at the side of his blog, paring his fingernails" while the discussion blazes around me (rather Nero-like, I imagine), I haven't actually been paring my fingernails so much as coughing my damn fool head off. I was very pleased to have such a thoughtful email from Brian, since I was incapable of having my own thoughts through the antihistamine-induced haze. (One of my last posts during this blurry period equated some artistic attitudes to rape, after which I decided to remain silent, or at best, pretty vanilla until I was thinking more clearly.) Anyway, I'm glad to see you have all carried on without me.

In many ways, I am content to stand on the side, since you all are doing such a wonderful job without me. George Hunka, as usual, has made a beautiful contribution with his "No More Audiences." SpearBearer Down Left joins the conversation with Theatre/Religion, expressing her belief that "thea…