29 March 2008

Dread Scott, . . . uh, Revolutionary?

At Alternet you can find this commentary by artist Dread Scott on the controversy that has arisen regarding his current exhibition Welcome to America at MoCADA (the Museum of Contemporary African Disporan Art) in Brooklyn. The ruckus seems to have been prompted by the installation pictured above which is called "Blue Wall of Violence (1999)."*

While I condemn efforts to censor artists and their work, I have to say that I don't get what Scott means when he contends "I make revolutionary art to propel history forward." Are you kidding? Scott is calling attention to just the sort of crimes that Rev. Jeremiah Wright condemns from the pulpit. (Or, for that matter, the same crimes James Baldwin condemned in The Fire Next Time - that was in 1963.) However accurate and necessary the condemnation, just where is the revolution? The art gallery as locus of revolutionary fervor.

I guess I find it difficult to take seriously anyone who insists that he has been "influenced" or "inspired" by "Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, U.S.A." That is simply a howler.
* This from Dread the Revolutionary's web page: "The Blue Wall of Violence is an installation that addresses police brutality. It focuses on the object which the police "mistook" for a dangerous weapon when they shot an unarmed person. The project consists of several elements: On the wall are six actual FBI silhouette targets which police use for shooting practice. Protruding from each of these is a cast of an arm. In each hand is an object-wallet, house keys, 3 Musketeers bar, squeegee, etc. In front of this is a coffin and in front of the coffin are three police batons which each strike it every 10 seconds with a loud penetrating bang."



Blogger Tom White said...

I agree. While interesting it is hardly revolutionary.

I think some street art such as this one I saw in the Bronx is more powerful.


I often read artist's statements, gallery press releases and critical assessments and wonder if the people writing them truly believe the nonsense they are saying is the truth or if they are just engaged in some pompous hot-air artspeak they think makes them sound more astute and intelligent. Having spent three years in art school I am inclined to think it is the latter, which unfortunately seems to be actively encouraged these days.

31 March, 2008 10:39  

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