Friday, March 28, 2008

For those of you not on my e-mail list, you may not realize that The San Francisco Art Institute sponsored a very ugly exhibit recently.
I hope PETA will jump into action soon, as I have not seen it mentioned in their online newsletter...
The exhibit consisted of the videotaped interactions of animals with a human--the artist who lured them over, in an effort to create this "art" exhibit entitled "Don't Trust Me", whereupon he then smashed the animals--one by one--in the head with a hammer, executing them in a bloody, unconscionable fashion.I did not publicize it in my blog, for fear it might (ironically) give good publicity to a very bad, sad thing. However, I feel safer discussing it now, as the curator has suspended the show. They plan to have a discussion about it this weekend, though I doubt many people could find this "art" at all enlightening, uplifting, or even disturbing in an investigative, or even metaphorical way. The CRIME of it, combined with the absolute inhumanity on "exhibit", is eloquently expressed by pal, Ellen Lindquist, in the letter she sent the SFAI.Read on:
March 24, 2008
Dear San Francisco Art Institute,
I understand that you are currently showing an exhibit, "Don't Trust Me," that features short videos of animals being hit on the head with hammers.
I am grieved that your institute has chosen to display this. On the website about the show, I learned that the artist, Abdessemed, like many Algerian immigrants to France, suffered due to biases in French society against his people. Indeed, it is most likely because he was ill-treated as an immigrant that he has chosen to use images depicting violence against animals. However, the abuse that Abdessemed suffered is no excuse for abusing innocent animals. What Abdessemed and the San Francisco Art Institute both need to realize is that cruelty against animals is a crime. By displaying this so-called art, the San Francisco Art Institute is complicit in these crimes.
The description of the show, that it "resist(s) the imposition of narrative constructions or automatic interpretations," seeks to legitimize this video that--like snuff films--appeals only to the viewers' basest instincts. Abdessemed claims that his "belief in revolution, both social and individual, is manifest throughout his work." What kind of "revolution" could he possibly mean? There is nothing vaguely new about slaughtering animals. Surely the San Francisco Art Institute can do better. Take down this horrifying exhibit.
Ellen Lindquist
Hey readers, I found out this morning the exhibit has been suspended, but perhaps only temporarily.
I sent this out today, with my sentiments, and echoes of what Ellen said in hers, fully present:

Dear Educators, Artists, Gallery Owners,
Hi. As a fellow artist(a poet and actor), I have the utmost respect for artists in ALL mediums. It is with much sorrow that I write to you to tell you of my utter horror over the exhibit featuring Mr. Abdessemed's "art".
I am certainly NOT an advocate of censorship, but what this artist has done is to commit and further a crime. While I understand he is attempting to be "provocative", it is merely sensational.
Enough is enough.
I know you have "suspended" this exhibition, but please END this exhibition. This does not raise consciousness, or raise the level of humanity we are all(even Mr. Abdessemed) capable of.
Continued successs in future exhibitions, and please, in the interests of the good of all of us, and in preserving other artists' integrity(an "exhibit" like this weakens support for all art, and serves NO purpose, except, as I said, to sensationalize, and cheapen animal, and human life), end this exhibit, permanently.
Thank you for your consideration.
Lisa Allender
Please let your feelings be heard...follow the link in Ellen's letter, and raise a ruckus. There are too many truly talented artists out there, who deserve a chance to be seen and represented.
Thanks, kids.
Peace & Blessings to You & Yours...


Karen J. Weyant said...

Thanks Lisa for posting this. While I too do not like to promote censorship, I find this exhibit a crime. I don't think art should always be uplifting; however, the killing of animals does not in any way promote any kind of thoughtful, political message. I agree with you -- there are so many great artists out there who need our support.

Collin said...

Unbelievable that the artist himself did the killings to try and make some kind of point. No matter what kind of abuse or discrimination he suffered at the hands of the French, killing innocent animals to make some kind of point is beyond the pale. Glad you got to the bottom of this. I'll send a letter onward.

betmo said...

are you kidding? why isn't he in jail? this isn't art. it isn't even life imitating art. i can't even think or speak right now.

Selma said...

I am beyond horrified right now. I'd like to put him in an exhibition of my own....

Lisa Allender said...

An update I just received said the video does NOT show "bloodshed" and that all the animals were killed in the same way that they are slaughtered for food. This really makes no difference to me. It is still immoral, and unconscionable.
I suppose the artist may have been commenting on our food choices, but if so, he could have simply shown a slaughterhouse. That would have been a documentation of it--not necessarily "art", either, but at least it wouldn't have been merely to kill for killing's sake...

Anonymous said...

Check out the info on the permanent closure...I find the president's words very poignant...just because we can't bear to look at it, doesn't mean it isn't happening behind closed doors. I'm not making a distinction either way about keeping it open or closed - I didn't see it myself, but I do find what he is saying to be very true of our country specifically: we'll eat a hamburger, but we'll get up in arms if we see someone killing a cow. There's a big disconnect there.

SFAI Press Release on permanent closure>

Lisa Allender said...

I totally understand what you are saying. I was quite the vegetarian for a long time(I still eat meat only rarely, and could NEVER eat a pig).As a society, it IS important that we "connect the dots". That's viable. But his methodology is what I find repugnant.To kill, just to DO it.

Lisa Allender said...

I read the "press release" from SFAI, and I think ANY type of slur or violence or threats aimed at SFAI is reprehensible, and intolerable, and inexcusable. The radical extremists who do that, undermine their own cause...
I also feel SFAI did not address what it is people are upset about--not "recording" the killing, but the "solicitation" of killing. It was done, just to do it.
The animals mentioned were quite varied--and NOT all ones slaughtered for food. The artists's role was deliberately left "ambiguous", but he admitted having a hand in the killings.
It is repulsive to me, and it surely is NOT what this Abedessemed aspired to--art.