Saturday, October 08, 2005

Art that Subverts

The uproar over a planned nude statue called "Father and Son" is grossly missing the point – on both sides of the debate.

Pastor Joseph Fuiten of Bothell's Cedar Park Assembly of God Church is up in arms over the fact that the two figures in the statue, a father and a son, will be depicted nude. He calls this a monument to pedophilia.

Danny Westneat of the Seattle Times responded with the usual regressive and dismissive Seattle media tone toward the concerns of evangelicals. Westneat says that art is good and important if it makes people talk. If that’s the measure, does he call the terrorist attacks of September 11 a form of art? They sure made people talk.

Matt Rosenberg of Sound Politics is worried that evangelicals in the Republican Party of Washington State drive away moderate voters when they make so much noise about something as unimportant as a nude statue. His is a valid concern. Certainly part of the problem that Republicans have in the state is that people view Pastor Fuiten as indicative of the entire party.

For my part, I love the statue. Not because it is making people talk; Westneat is sadly mistaken in his simpleton view that art should be measured by the controversy it inspires. And, I’m not worried about nudity. Humans in their natural state have no relationship to pedophilia or any other sex crime except in the eye of the beholder. If that’s what the Pastor sees, he might want to seek counseling of either the earthly or the spiritual variety.

I love it because it has meaning to me and possibly many other men in the state. Meaning is the measure of art. It might even help to wake Seattle's victim oriented gender feminists to the havoc they have wreaked by using one of the few mediums that have a chance of getting through to them. This was probably not the intent of the artist and definitely not the intent of the Seattle Art Museum, steeped in the cultural correctness that they are.

To me, the statue is symbolic of a disease that, for its prevalence and state sponsorship, is much more widespread and has longer term social and cultural implications than pedophilia or “talk.”

The statue depicts a man reaching helplessly for his son. A curtain of water separates the two. In the State of Washington, and particularly in King County and Seattle, that curtain of water is the state itself. Nearly half of all children in parts of the state are growing up without a father in their household. Meanwhile, divorce rates continue to rise and almost half of all men in their thirties in King County have never been married. Family courts routinely remove fathers from households and the lives of their children on false allegations of abuse; the practice is so wide spread that official divorce forms from the family court system practically assume that a woman will want to make charges of abuse against her spouse.

These statistics do not happen in a vacuum. Blaming men misses the point. These facts are also not a measure of the success of women, as the Seattle media would have you believe. They are indicative of the hostile stance the state has towards marriage and the male side of the equation.

My interpretation differs substantially from the official line of the Seattle Art Museum:
Nudity in this work is a symbol of emotional nakedness; the two figures stand before each other but cannot touch; they try to see each other, but never see eye to eye; they are separated by bell jars of cascading water, which prevent any contact between them. At 94 Louise Bourgeois is still finding ways to push the boundaries of her creativity. The subject of Mother and Child is classic in art, but Father and Son is especially relevant today when fathers play a more active role in their children’s lives.
It's not surprising that SAM would view "Father and Son" as an expression of the hopelessness of a father ever truly connecting with his child. Indeed, this was likely the line that artist Louise Bourgeois gave them and thus provides her intended meaning. But, most fathers can see through SAM's interpretation for the feminist propaganda it is. The beauty of this sculpture therefor lies in unintended consequences that subvert the original intent.

We have discussed the frontal attacks of the state on men, fathers, boys, families, and marriage extensively on this blog. Take a look around and the picture might become clearer to you.

Then, go take a look at the planned statue. You too may find that it is unintentionally subversive to the prevailing political cultural of our times.

1 Comments:

Blogger MisAnDrope said...

It has always struck me, that our culture holds the female body out as an object of beauty, awe, (and yes, lust), and dedicates much public art to it in various states of undress. But men are apparently appropriate in sculpture only as warriors, or as supporting figures for weighty structures or objects. (I won't wander into the realm of religous statuary, which is mostly shielded from the public eye inside of houses of worship.)

Additionally, except for the rare and usually controversial replica of Michaelangelo's 'David', men cannot be depicted nude. The message I get is 'women=beauty::men=ugly'. I am sure that a gender feminist would claim that the current bias is a function of the patriarchy. I say it is bias, and think that it should be just as acceptable to portray nude males as nude women.

Men are a beautiful and important half of our race, and we need to start treating them properly, not hiding them away as the half of the race we are ashamed of.

-M

10/10/2005 07:36:00 AM  

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