November 30, 2010

"If they’ve got money to squander like this – of a crucifix being eaten by ants, of Ellen DeGeneres grabbing her breasts, men in chains, naked brothers kissing..."

"... then I think we should look at their budget," said Georgia Rep. Jack Kingston, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, scaring the Smithsonian Institution into taking down the ants-on-Jesus video. Cowed, the Institution nevertheless defended the artist, whose "intention was to depict the suffering of an AIDS victim." The museum assures us it had no "intention to offend."


The Crack Emcee said...

I couldn't agree more. This is pointless - it's got nothing to do with AIDS.

Cut their budget.

Coketown said...

I guess a video of Andrew Sullivan at a circuit party doesn't quite show suffering of AIDS victims to the extent the artist intends.

But let's consider the facts here: People like Dostoevsky and Zamyatin produced brilliant works of art when doing so was punishable by prison, hard labor, or death. We flush our artists with cash and this is the best they can produce?

If we want better art, we need to make art illegal immediately. Otherwise we get crap like this.

Doug Wright said...

To shut down all museums and art institutes, show cartoons of Mohammad in them! That won't be allowed, the ACLU will take action to stop it and Islam will riot until the cartoon show is stopped.


mesquito said...

Yup. I'm sure these courageous foes of Philistinism did not display any naughty pictures of Muhammed.

Jana said...

Ugh, defund the arts. Seriously.

The entire community lives to impress only each other by constantly one-upping each other by shocking and/or "edgy" imagery and content. This is not art, it's a pissing contest.

Fund that dung on the private dime.

Revenant said...

I'm not offended by the content of any of these artworks. I'm offended by the thought that we're spending money on ANY works of art when the government is so far in the red. Art is a luxury, not a necessity. When times are tight, the luxuries have to go.

stevenehrbar said...

Prohibit Federal funding for the purchase or display of art less than, say, thirty years old. If it can stand the test of time, then let the proven-substantial contribution to our culture become part of a taxpayer-paid collection and display.

ricpic said...

...we need to make art illegal...

I agree with Coketown. The measure of a confident, sane and healthy society is that it looks with the deepest suspicion upon art and artists, those subversive creeps. Sarcasm NOT off.

Penny said...

Irate legislators!

What if they were charged some outrageous sum of money per published sound byte?

Not ONE would pay to talk about this Smithsonian exhibit.

That should give you an idea of just how important this topic is "in the scheme of things".

Penny said...

For those of you who agree, "This sort of thing is OUTRAGEOUS!"

Keep in mind that is exactly how we ended up with so many laws on the books in the first place.

Someone has a bug *ant* up their ass, pun intended, and then something needs to be done!

Nora said...

This kind of display depends on provocing public controversy to attract viewers. Surely, something that depends on controversy rather than artistic talent is not art. That art critics and curators call it so does not make it art. I doubt anybody will want to see most of such exhibits more than once, which make them into cultural rubbish, i.e. something that is used and can be thrown away, very fast.

Big Mike said...

The museum assures us it had no "intention to offend."

Does anybody seriously believe that? I really hate it when the apologies are more offensive than the action which triggered the apology.

New "Hussein" Ham said...

"... think we should look at their budget,"

This right here is the problem with goddamn Republicans.

No, Jack ... you shouldn't LOOK at their budget, you should eliminate their budget.

People in the country are starving. There are no jobs. Unemployment is being cut. Democrats are pissing away our children's future on borrowed money funding fucking art bullshit.

You know what? The arts are important - AFTER everybody is fed.

Don't LOOK at their budget. We didn't send you to Washington to look at shit.

Jack, we sent you there to eliminate this fucking waste. If you can't muster up the courage to take the fight to Democrats then resign your fucking position and let a better man do your job.

Roadkill said...

The "artist" in question has every right to produce such crap.

But not on the taxpayer's dime.

Simthsonian and NEH will be low hanging fruit in the coming budget cutting harvest - and most deservedly so.

Jim said...

There was a time in this country when the uber-wealthy funded the arts. Then they convinced the rubes that WE should be footing the bill instead so that they could go on enjoying their avant garde art while spending their money on more political causes instead.

We should go back to making the wealthy pony up for art which is out of reach for the ordinary person. What does a minimum wage Joe in Wyoming care about the Smithsonian when he will likely never be able to afford to travel there? Opera? Symphonies? Ballet?

BAH! As with public broadcasting, it's just a whole lot of "stuff that upper-class white people like" which should be funded privately or not at all.

New "Hussein" Ham said...

"Simthsonian and NEH will be low hanging fruit in the coming budget cutting harvest - and most deservedly so."

No they won't. You mark my words.

Republicans don't have it in them to actually cut a budget. They'd rather cut Social Security and Medicaid. You know ... fuck over the seniors who elected them and who get to decide who gets re-elected.

In other words, they're dumb fucking morons.

Just look at events today in the Senate with eight Republicans crossing the aisle to join Democrats to prevent the elimination of the Senate bribery machine (earmarks). Corrupt Republicans are just as much a part of the problem in Washington, D.C. as corrupt Democrats.

And that's why we have to go after them just as hard as we would go after Democrats.

None of these 8 Senators deserve re-election by Republican voters. Every single one of them just guaranteed Tea Party competition in their upcoming primaries.

We have to eliminate these Republicrats first and foremost. At the same time we're eliminating rank-and-file Democrat crooks.

Then, and only then, will true Americans regain control of their government.

traditionalguy said...

This Work of Art has only the value that some one will pay for it...which is less than zero, you'd have to pay some one to take it. Therefore the Government must fund it or we will miss out on the horror of suffering like John Wayne endured in Hondo ( a surprisingly good western). The Apaches were big with tying enemies down on ant hills smeared with honey.

Chase said...

The museum assures us it had no "intention to offend."

Let's give them the benefit of the doubt.

Which leaves one and only one conclusion:

They are very very stupid. Seriously. That's the most charitable thing that can possibly be said if we believe them.

cookasia said...

Oh, yeah. What if that had been a Muslim depiction? What are the chances that that artist's "work" would have seen the light of day? But mocking Christ is OK? Some double standards....

JAL said...

@ Big Mike 6:44 PM
The museum assures us it had no "intention to offend."

Does anybody seriously believe that? I really hate it when the apologies are more offensive than the action which triggered the apology.
Thief. Mind reader. Plagiarist.


(That's newspeak for "Took the words right off my keyboard.")

JAL said...

Besides, you know all through the set up of this show there was all kinds of tittering about how upset some poeple were going to be. Tee hee! Aren't we so cool, and (as Jana noted) edgy!

I have a BFA from a very good school. Yup. That's the way it goes with certain artsy fartsy folks.

wv jotedd
She jotedd herself a note to send $25 to her alma mater for the basketweaving major.

Paddy O said...

The museum assures us it had no "intention to offend."

So, they're admitting it's not even art?

Either it's art, and it is meant to offend as its role as art. Or it's not art, and it's only accidentally offensive, which suggests it was meant merely as kitsch for the libs.

traditionalguy said...

The poor Muzzies do have to threaten to murder artists that disrespect their long dead prophet. But Christians don't need to do that, since they worship a living God who has the final Judgement in His hands.

Penny said...


Can we all agree for our work, our personal "art", to be judged by every angry man?

chr1 said...

No wait...I get it...the ants are like Romans.

And that's not Jesus, that's a plastic symbol in the likeness of Jesus.

How about a picture of Mohammed?

edutcher said...

The real question is why are we spending money on this at all?

Those evil rich people used to fund The Arts. They should be doing it now. Oh, yes, we have an Administration that hates the rich - unless they're Lefties.

PS Of the 8 Republicans, 2 will be gone in January and Lugar is up for re-election in '12 and already facing a stiff challenge. More reason to send him packing.

Fen said...

The museum assures us it had no "intention to offend."

Try that with Islam.

See what it gets you.

Juba Doobai! said...

I am offended. Andres Serrano's piss Christ offended me. Homosexuals tossing filled condoms in St. Patrick's offended me. Christopher Okati's Mary with elephant dung offended me.

Yet, in spite of my offense, I shrug cuz I know the actions of the filth-makers put them on a collision course with God, and He will reward them as He sees fit.

Now, if I were Muslim, and they'd had the courage to do piss Mohammed or toss used condoms in a mosque, I'd've killed them all. Islam says kill; Judaeo-Christianity says you shall not kill. Knowing that, these cowards know they can safely offend Christians.

Henry said...

Good grief. This wasn't a grant to some obscure shock artist doing the MFA lecture circuit. It was the Smithsonian. The Smithsonian, unlike most of the major museums, is free, because it is the National museum. It doesn't even ask for a "suggested" donation.

Last week my wife and I visited the Smithsonian's National Gallery of Art. We spent an afternoon looking at Dutch and Italian masters. They have a stunning collection.

The focus in the museum world is not on the presentation of such a collection (Vermeer, Rembrandt, Van Eyck), but on the curatorial assemblage of the seasonal show.

The wrong incentives are at work.

The curator and his congressional critic deserve each other. The Smithsonian deserves better.

Synova said...

Stupid. Of course it was supposed to shock and offend. That was the point. That was the *tactic* to get the *message* out there.

I get that the idea of "public" funding for the arts is that a private patron will likely result in art according to the tastes of the private patron. But really... someone decides what to fund when it's "public" too, so how is that any different from a creative standpoint? From a funding standpoint, of course, it is coercive by nature to force people to pay for "art" that offends.

No one is going to fire-bomb or lock up the guy, but on what basis is the only alternative digging into the pockets of other people and stealing their hard earned money?

HDHouse said...

isn't this Kingston fella the same guy who married his sister?

just putting that out there.

edutcher said...

HDHouse said...

isn't this Kingston fella the same guy who married his sister?

Another riposte worthy of Noel Coward.

When they were handing out class, HD thought they said was glass and asked for a cup.

Roux said...

Cut their budget..... cut it completely out.

You know, if they had any courage at all they'd fund it themselves and cover Muhammed in ants.

Martin L. Shoemaker said...

Penny said...

Keep in mind that is exactly how we ended up with so many laws on the books in the first place.

Someone has a bug *ant* up their ass, pun intended, and then something needs to be done!

Sorry, Penny, but eliminating funding does not put a new law on the books. It erases an old law (or more likely, an old line item) from the books. And it's a move that should be encouraged.

Actually, since this is a budget line item, it will have no net effect on the number of laws, since a new budget must be passed every year (current budgetary cowardice notwithstanding).

Now if they're dumb enough to create a whole new set of arts funding qualifications, then I would agree with you. The answer is not to fine tune the qualification rules, the answer is to stop the funding.

Palladian said...

I wish they'd cut public funding for the arts just because it would shut all you whinging baboons up for once.

The Crack Emcee said...


Art is a luxury, not a necessity.

Whoo-boy, is that wrong. But this ain't art - it's a lie - and a bad one, poorly executed.

If the funders can't tell that, or knew it and decided to foist it on us anyway, then they don't deserve to dole out our tax dollars.

The Crack Emcee said...

Give the money to GWAR.

Synova said...

Once when I was world-building for a science fiction story I decided that the colony founders believed that institutionalized art and entertainment was a bad idea because it resulted in a population that did not create their own.

That society would never use government to pay for art or music or literature and actually set up broadcasting rules to favor live-music.

Hey, it was my world. I could do what I wanted. ;-)

In our world, though, I think it does tend that way... we have professionals for all that. What sort of food for the soul is second-hand art? True enough, a master is magnificent, but participation in the creative act is sublime... even when the end "product" is amateur.

S said...

Huh, I had been under the impression that the Smithsonian was private. I knew Smithson had donated the seed capital, but I guess I had missed where exactly he had donated it.

I agree that cutting federal funding for the arts is the right thing to do, but that throwing yet another law on the pile is more likely.

I'd also like to throw a thumbs-up to Synova: while less federal funding of the arts would probably mean less overall funding, it would also mean that the arts that do get funded are the arts that somebody, somewhere, is voluntarily paying for.

I'm not of the opinion that art should never offend. Some art should offend some people; frankly, I think we need more art that offends the sort of people who think peeing on a crucifix is art. But if artists who want to offend are allowed to assess the offendees for the privilege, why shouldn't the offendees be allowed to put flaming bags of poop on the artists' porches and charge the artists for the bags and the delivery costs, not to mention a reasonable fee for the labor involved? (I'm assuming poop is free.)

What it comes down to is this: if the government is shelling out money for art, either the government will decide what constitutes art worth spending taxpayer money on, or the government will not decide what constitutes art worth spending taxpayer money on. In other words, you can have government censorship or you can have the government randomly throwing money around. Given those two options, I greatly prefer the former, but I'd rather avoid the decision altogether.

Penny said...

Martin, it's the behavior of legislators that is of concern.

Once elected, they move into REACTIVE mode, while I suspect, more than a few of them were once credible leaders in their chosen field.

In "reactive mode", they somehow feel they need to "lead" by whining louder than the loudest voices around them.

If we are outraged about this particular Smithsonian exhibit, they will be MORE outraged. That results in some legislative committee being formed to "review" exactly how they can wield their outrage, and ours, into some legislative action.

This is where I go with the odds. While you expect they will reduce funding or spending for the Smithsonian, I am going to lay my money on the line that says, after months of wasted time, they will come up with more rules...and more laws. In so doing, they will see themselves as "leaders".

True legislative leaders wouldn't waste their time or talent on the "Smithsonian issue". We cannot nickle and dime this country back to financial health anymore than a family losing their home can gain momentum by discussing their kid's new neon shoelaces.

PatCA said...

If this is the best money can buy, we need to cut them off. Pronto.

Defund the NEA.

HDHouse said...

Thank you Synova for again making no sense whatsoever.

We can always count on you.

Pogo said...

I want an NEA grant for my performance art piece entitled: How to take a dump in the Smithsonian.

Truly transgressive. Figger it's worth a cool $50K.

Calypso Facto said...

As David Boaz has said, what we need is a return to the separation of Art and State.

Jay said...

The federally funded National Portrait Gallery, one of the museums of the Smithsonian Institution, is currently showing an exhibition that features images of an ant-covered Jesus, male genitals, naked brothers kissing, men in chains, Ellen DeGeneres grabbing her breasts, and a painting the Smithsonian itself describes in the show’s catalog as homoerotic.”

Why in the era of 1.2 trillion dollar deficits should a penny be sent to this again?

Jay said...

isn't this Kingston fella the same guy who married his sister?

You are a silly, ignorant liberal saying silly, ignorant things.

c3 said...

from the linked article:

“A Fire in My Belly” reflects the “violent, disturbing and hallucinatory” aspects of the AIDS epidemic.

Roughly 18,000 people die of AIDS annually in the US. If we assume that 2/3 are gay then about 12,000 gay men die of AIDS annually. This is a horrible disease....AND

over 600,000 people die of heart disease annually. If we assume half are men (underestimate) and that 5% of those men are gay then 15,000 gay men die of heart disease annually.

Roughly the same numbers for cancer.

I could go one but

Why in this day and age is AIDS the cause of death and infirmity violent, disturbing and hallucinatory but heart disease and cancer are just....


(PS Of course it was meant to disturb. My question: Did anyone in putting together the exhibit ask "Do you think anyone will be offended by this?")

Robert Cook said...

"The measure of a confident, sane and healthy society is that it looks with the deepest suspicion upon art and artists, those subversive creeps."

Unless I am seriously missing your point, this is one of the more insane sounding things I've heard lately that wasn't coming from the mouth of some asshole in elected office.

Robert Cook said...

Or does your "Sarcasm NOT off" statement mean you're being, like, really sarcastic?

Robert Cook said...

"Oh, yes, we have an Administration that hates the rich...."

Then why are they doing the bidding of the rich?

Robert Cook said...

Such sputtering rage over such piffle...the art sounds like it's tripe, as most art is, (see Sturgeon's Law), but the money spent by government on the arts is a meager gratuity in comparison with the real money that is spent on killing and torturing real human beings, and destroying their homes and towns and societies.

On the one hand, you've got spare government change funding an arts program; on the other hand, you've got astronomical sums of our confiscated cash going to snuff out human lives.

What's the rational response?

Hint: it's not to cheer on the murder machine that's bankrupting us while working up to a collective stroke over bad art.

Methadras said...

How does showing Jesus during crucifixion with ants on him equate to a homosexual with AIDS? Is this an attempt to paint Christ as a mo? or was this a feeble attempt at a new type of ant farm?