How Far?

Having spent a few days of involvement in a thread on the OCA forum regarding the ‘Out of Focus’ exhibition and one gallery of images, it’s become clear to me that the matter of subject matter, ethical standards, censorship, taste and a whole host of other issues are a very prickly subject to some.  It’s a shame that the discussion didn’t attract a wider range of people and perhaps less potent views to see what the more general opinion was.

So here I am, spouting again on my on views, which if I can’t d so here where can I?

The questions raised are too wide to settle in one log entry but I think it’s worth making an entry about it as it’s such an emotive subject and, whilst I don’t want to place a stake in the ground, I do want to have a record of what my current opinion is.

There is a view, and I’m not saying it’s wrong, that provided there’s a scintilla of art in an image then it is art.  This therefore means to me that provided sufficient enough people can see that scintilla then it’s acceptable to be hung in a gallery no matter what the content.  This is probably too narrow a view of the position, but it’s difficult to put it into words without rambling too much, so if you read this please accept this is a simplistic version only.

I can understand this point of view but I think it’s somewhat anarchic.  If the logical conclusion to that stance is followed then the most gross and inhuman scenes can be depicted and called art, and I do believe that there are people out in this big bad world that would applaud this kind of image and rush to view it.

The problem for me though is that if this final scenario was to come about what does it say about society in general and art in particular?  Art is meant to be one of the crowning achievements of the human condition, but such a show would to my mind say that it is without morals or standards.  Luckily this final scenario isn’t likely to happen…… hopefully?  But the question really is, ‘where do we draw the line?’.

I, along with most ‘artists’, would not want a committee of ethical and moral standards to be introduced simply because it would stifle the development of our art, not that it’s a practical idea anyway.  Nor would an individuals standards be acceptable as they would possibly  be as different to mine as chalk is to cheese.  So if we can’t use a committee and we can’t use an individual what can we use?

Well, my personal view is that we have to self censor and model our thinking based upon our individual experiences taking into account societies stance about any given subject.  This means of course that standards will be constantly changing, but is that necessarily a bad thing?  I think that’s good; just look at the moral and censor standards there were say back in the Victorian age.  There there was a public standard and a much different private standard.  Later we went to a strange set of standards where in film some very weird standards were set.  Married couples couldn’t be seen to share the same bed, mild love scenes in a bedroom meant the man had to keep one foot on the floor etc etc.  Now we’re at the stage where mild pornography is sometimes used for advertising and full frontal nudity isn’t uncommon, but where do we go next?

Well I for one certainly don’t know.  The thread on the OCA forum that started this entry has shown that there is wide and varied thinking, and that’s good, but it doesn’t define where next.  Can it?  No I don’t think it can.  Nor can an individual clearly state their position on every aspect, it’s one of those things that has to be voiced as each condition appears and THAT’S what sets standards for the future.

As an individual states their take on a condition then it comes up for public debate and the discourse that occurs helps to mould the standards we accept as a society and an art circle.

I’ve probably still not got it right and I’m sure there’s plenty out there that will have contrary comments to make, but that’s what I’m advocating isn’t it?  So go ahead, shoot it all down, change my opinion and let’s see just how far we’re prepared to go.


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