When Does Art Become a Form of Exploitation?
At what point does art-- or should I say the subjects or themes that artists choose to explore-- become a form exploitation? Lately there seems to have been an increase in headlines asking this specific question. Some view this question as an attack on the arts while others view it as a discussion that is needed within the context of the art world and how the general public views art.
There are many questions to ask involving the issue of art and exploitation:
Is it exploitation when an artist like Bill Henson takes photographs of nude teens as young as 12 in the name of art?
Is it exploitation when an artist like Gretchen Beck mentions during a lecture about her work that her agreement with a specific ethnic group in Africa has helped to develop her career by serving as a point of contact and reference for her art?
Is it exploitation when an artist focuses his or her art on racial struggles that he or she has not experienced personally?
Is it exploitation when an artist documents his or her interactions with victims of drug addictions or individuals caught in the throws of poverty-- all the while receiving hundreds or thousands of dollars per image?
Is it exploitation when an artist builds a financial empire on the creation of faith based art while living in a way that is in conflict with the religious views he or she projects in his or her art?
Is it exploitation when an artist claims that his or her art is in support of fallen soldiers while at the same time being vocal against those who are still in the field of battle?
At what point should these works be considered exploitation? Should a line be drawn? Or is the nature of artistic expression to exploit in some manner even if our intentions are good?
The validity of said works is decided by each individual who views them. Some will be outraged while others will praise the artist for what he or she has accomplished in order to expose viewers or inform viewers about a specific topic-- regardless of his or her intention for having done so. However, contradictions can easily pop up when an artist is exploring delicate issues-- such as religion, poverty, aspects of sexuality, and cultural differences-- in an controversial manner. Due to this many feel that these artists set themselves up for confrontation. Critics of said works may even describe the practice as a form of attention seeking or an easy way to create buzz. What are your thoughts on this issue? When does art become a form of exploitation? At what point does an artist create works simply for media appeal? How can we know the true intentions behind the creation of said works? Are we meant to know? Does it matter? What say you…
Links of Interest:
Students Question: Art or Exploitation?
Views on child protocols divided
Never Forget. You’re Reminded
Take care, Stay true,