Thursday, September 3, 2015

Should we boycott art events in countries of severe human rights violations? (Like India, where 3,000 children a day die of starvation)

Here is an image I found online of a severely malnourished child from India.

On a Facebook page dealing with art, I read about an art event in India and wondered how anyone in good conscience could patronize any arts event in a country where 3,000 children die each day due to starvation.

Here's a link showing that this is an accurate number - 3,000 per day, about 1 million children a year.

So on that Facebook page, underneath the article about the art event, I wrote:

Are you aware that 3,000 children die of starvation in India each day and that 500 million people do not even have indoor toilets?

These Facebook page folks wrote back saying: Please refrain from making derogatory remarks or you will be removed. Talk about art related issues.

Pointing out that 3,000 children die each day of starvation is a derogatory remark?

Furthermore, you can't separate art from its society any more - not after a bunch of nazis stated they bore no responsibility for the Holocaust because they could easily separate art from their society.

I wrote back: After I read a piece about art in India, I felt compelled to point out that 3,000 Indian children die of starvation each day and that 500 million people do not even have indoor toilets (some women get raped while using outdoor facilities). I was told these comments were 'derogatory' and this FB page will remove me if I say anything like this again. Wow - censorship is alive and well on this FB page - we need to ignore and forget about social issues in a country and just focus on its art - a la Leni Riefenstahl - really disgraceful. 

They wrote back and said: Hi Daniel. This is not the forum to make comments on social,political issues There are other communities designed for that purpose and we encourage you to use them.

I believe this is really a horrific and corrosive attitude and I am shocked that people with an interest in art have learned nothing about the dangers of removing a sense of social responsibility from art and are still separating art from the society in which it is created.

As an art reviewer for a relatively large art blog (elsewhere) I was once sent an invitation to review a gallery show of art from Singaporean and Thai artists. The show was sponsored by the tourism bureaus of those countries. According to my estimation, Singapore is a little homophobic dictatorship whose recently deceased dictator expressed anti-Asian prejudices stating, basically, that Asian people were too obsequious for democracy. Thailand  recently had a military takeover and illegally removed its PM from office and seems to be persecuting her now through a kangaroo court.

I refused to step foot in the gallery that hosted that show. 

I am firmly convinced now that folks in the art world need to be more vocal about abuses around the world. There's no such thing and never was such a thing as art divorced from its society. That there is a non-social art is the most fascistic aesthetic concept yet developed.

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