February 20, 2014

"'I don’t encourage anyone to protest by destroying other people’s property,' said Ai, apparently forgetting that time..."

"... he dropped Han dynasty urns, cut up shoes, wrecked a bunch of chairs, and ruined some perfectly good bicycles. Mr. Ai claims that the Miami vase-smashing is 'very different,' because when Ai ruined pots and bikes and the lot, they 'raised some new questions.'"

(I previously discussed this art vandalism conundrum here.)

IN THE COMMENTS: American Liberal Elite said (quoting the linked article):
"It's a fair point to say that Ai owned the objects he destroyed, while Caminero did not." 
So, of course, it's a point, but is it a conclusive consideration, especially when we are talking about ancient artifacts? Do you accept destruction of unique objects? This reminds me of the flag-burning cases. To those who wanted it to be possible to punish someone who conveyed his message by burning an American flag, was it enough of an answer to say that the protester was burning his own flag? Don't you think that the destruction of ancient artifacts could be banned and should at least be condemned, even when it's the destroyer's own property? One could also view it as morally wrong to destroy any useful object, and it's certainly fair to express disapproval of expressive conduct that comes in the form of destroying things.

18 comments:

drozz said...

Seems like a tantrum, rather than trying to make a statement.

American Liberal Elite said...

"It's a fair point to say that Ai owned the objects he destroyed, while Caminero did not."

The Crack Emcee said...

"Do you accept destruction of unique objects? "

In art? You have to,…that's practically the point, sometimes,...

Carol said...

property rights just don't seem adequate here do they. it's as if some things really belong to all. next it will be, we don;t fully own our own bodies either.

Ann Althouse said...

If the unique object is, say, a pencil, then you destroy it slowly by drawing.

That's a good interpretation of my question, especially if you like destroying meaning.

Which is not a unique object.

Or is it?!??

gerry said...

Art.

Bullshit.

Who's paying this barbarian?

Simon Kenton said...

As the duly-constituted government of Afghanistan, the Taliban "owned" the Buddhas of Bamiyan.

Trashhauler said...

No one "owns" the flag of the United States. It is a symbol, not a possession. The argument against flag burning as protest is not against the destruction of a precious artifact. It is against the intended, specific rejection of "the country for which it stands." Everyone knows this, including the flag burners, but intellectuals pretend they do not.

The Left is fond of symbols, but apparently cannot abide any symbol that unites us. That's what flag burning is about.

Trashhauler said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Richard Dolan said...

"... it's certainly fair to express disapproval of expressive conduct that comes in the form of destroying things."

The law already does considerably more than "express disapproval" in certain circumstances already. The paradigm here is historical district zoning, which began in NYC in the mid '60s, after the demolition of Penn Station and the plan to destroy Grand Central. Whatever 'expressive conduct' you want to engage in with respect to your own property, if it involves a change to the exterior of a building in an historic district, now requires the approval of the NYC Landmarks Commission. THe Landmarks Commission has also begun to exercise authority over certain internal features of buildings that are visible from the exterior -- the magnificent lobbies of some of the old banks and office towers from the 20s and 30s are now in that category.

It's a stretch (but only a stretch, not a break) to take those concepts that began with zoning and then took off in a very different direction, to artifacts not involving real property.

Trashhauler said...

One might argue that there is no intrinsic value in any object beyond the value placed on it by human beings. There is no intrinsic value to consecrated hosts sitting in a chalice on an altar - unless one believes in transubstantiation. That still does not make it a good idea t shrug off church robbing.

Gabriel Hanna said...

Plenty of ancient objects are worthless, or quite inexpensive--their price is of course proportional to their rarity. Every ancient artifact destroyed increases the value of the others of its type, all else being equal.

The objects we consider worthless and disposable would one day be ancient if we didn't destroy them, so ancientry alone cannot be an argument for preserving them. They become valuable in so far as they are rare, which means the vast majority were destroyed.

Example--Roman silver coins vs Roman gold coins. The gold coins are valuable because people don't let gold sit around in the form of coins that are not legal tender. Whereas Roman silver is quite affordable.

Patrick O said...

live by art, die by art.

Patrick O said...

It's hard for the radical when he becomes the establishment.

That's the ultimate lesson of the 60s and 70s movements. Object lessons continue.

R. Chatt said...

Robert Smithson dealt with this issue by creating art which eventually dissolves back into nature. Even more to the point, Jean Tinguely satirized the over production of material objects by creating self destroying sculptures.

R. Chatt said...

Actually the best story was Rauschenberg erasing a de Kooning drawing. It was done with permission.

Charlie Martin said...

So, of course, it's a point, but is it a conclusive consideration, especially when we are talking about ancient artifacts?

Yes.

Brian McKim & Traci Skene said...

I always had a problem with The Who smashing their guitars. Then, I got over it. Then the music press continued to show clips of them doing it... and other bands did it... and they got press for the same ridiculous reasons. Ugh. And then when I actually bought and owned a guitar, my revulsion at such a "statement" grew. Ugh. Guitars may be "mass-produced," but I think of each one of them (even the cheap ones) as works of art.