Can You Spell 'Reaction'? (2)
Over at Conscientious Jörg Colberg observes:
"I am being told it's a hoax! How very witty! Makes me think, though - isn't it a sad sign that we now live in a time where stuff like this (and every other headline from the satirical newspaper The Onion) could be real?"Jörg pursues this thought comment on my last post:
"The project holds way less water than you think it does. The point for me is not that so many people got really angry, but rather, that so many people didn't consider it to be a joke. After all, it could easily have been true.The problem, of course, is that Shvarts's performance art hardly stands out for its outrageousness. We can think of Mapplethorpe's self-portrait with the handle of a bullwhip stuck up his ass. But there are more, and more offensive, examples. Indeed, there is a robust recent history of performances exploiting various intersections of bodily integrity, gender, sexuality, pain, and so forth in much the way Shvarts has done in this new escapade. In fact, unlike say Opie or Wojnarowicz, in her project Shvarts apparently does no actual violence to herself or anyone else. I don't find much redeeming value in this sort of thing. But I do not think it fair, either, to characterize Shvarts's project a "joke" or a "hoax"; she was trying to make a point and created an elaborate performance into which she recruited witting and unwitting accomplices.
This in a time where the only reason we know why the headlines printed in "The Onion" are not true is because they're in "The Onion".
The fact that the President just openly endorsed torture, yet people debate about the lapel flag pin of a presidential candidate provides the background for this."
So, we live in a world where "stuff like this" is real well outside the pages of the Onion and, worse, well outside the art world. I find the public outrage yesterday misdirected and, too much of it, self-indulgent precisely because, as Jörg suggests, it occurs against the immediate background of the 'ho hum' response to even further revelations regarding the illegal and truly outrageous behavior on the part of a Yale alum and his cronies [e.g., 1, 2]. To that no one seems to be paying much mind.