Friday, January 30, 2009


So Joe and I are at the Honolulu Academy of Arts, in Gallery 9, looking at the "Face to Face" exhibit.  It's a small collection of black and white photographs.
There's one photo of three children:  two girls, one boy, each around 10 years old.  They're all shirtless, each with a defiant look on their faces, the one in the middle has his arms crossed.  

Joe:  That's just wrong.

Me:  What?

Joe:  Those naked kids.  You couldn't look at that on a'd get arrested.  But you can hang it on a wall and make people pay to see it, and it's fine.  I don't get it.

Me:  Oh.

I know the object for a lot of artists is to buck convention and make work that causes strong reactions.  But what about pieces that walk that thin line between acceptable and indefensible?  Is there a line?  Is all art ok?  
Or is a lot filtered through our genders?  I see pictures of children all time, and it doesn't bother me.  Joe gets uncomfortable looking at baby photos.  Does a natural mothering instinct affect how people view art?

How much is cultural?  How ingrained are we all with social norms?  So much so that it dictates what we personally find visually appealing?  

Can you make something, and say it's art, and have it be Art?  Can you put limits on artistic expression, or hold all artwork up to a certain standard?


lesagriff said...

You and Joe have entered into a dialogue that was sparked when photographer Sally Mann first showed her photographs of her children. They caused a lot of brouhaha in the press.

Entranced that the image can still spark thought and discussion, and thrilled that you did it at the Academy. (I'm the director of communications at the museum.)

lesagriff said...

Correct NYT link:

Cance said...

thanks so much for the link! i really appreciated reading the article. and i greatly appreciate the's beautiful.