Letter At Length, July 2

Art censorship a sign of the times

The idea of making art utterly innocuous at the Ashland Art Center to appease renters, board members or benefactors is not a good precedent. Do we really need to censor some large, white undergarments with printed images of regular women doing normal things? The laundry lines of the 1900s were certainly more provocative.

Art requires freedom of expression to be meaningful. Censoring a painting where an artist conformed to pressure and represented breasts as spiral swirls and still was censored, which also happened at the art center, is so silly it is sick.

This type of silly censorship exposes the ill health and contradictions in our society at this point in time. This kind of repression means anyone can anonymously complain and have the power of censorship without disclosing their identity or reasons. If we try to please or appease anonymous critics or give over even more power to those with their fingers on the purse strings then honest art and expression is at risk. It's one thing to remove from the view of minors items of a disturbing nature, but entirely another to let the phobias, fears, tastes or peccadilloes of silent complainers or those who gallery representatives fear may be offended to arbitrarily limit expression.

To me this reflects a much bigger problem — that of a culture in decline and the effects of limited thinking. As tolerance evaporates and education is dumbed down, restrictive and uninformed views hold sway. (Perhaps this explains in part the over-reaction and misinterpretation of the swastika on the poster for Ashland Community Theatre's current play, "Breaking the Code.")

Are we losing our intellectual capacities for evaluating the deeper meaning of signs and symbols? Are too many text messages and sound bites destroying our ability to think beneath the surface? Our modern day need for short messages lacking nuance is killing real thought — bullet point by bullet point.

Ignoring what we can't understand and using censorship to control what we don't want to see, this "whitey-tidyism," I'll coin it, is the height of folly and foolishness.

The dirty drawers of financial scandal, oil spills, pollution, mismanagement of resources, child abuse, pestilence, floods, hunger, crop failure and genocide go unwashed and exposed while our local tax dollars are used to fund a public art venue that doesn't even have the courage to display some spanking fresh bloomers blowing in the breezes of happier times.

Catie Faryl


Share This Story