Friday, June 08, 2007
Art Space News: Blair Depicted Naked Over the Shame of Iraq- Here is the Naked Truth As I See It.
Another example of art mocking political figures and the influence of the cult of celebrity can be observed at the Royal Academy of Art's annual Summer Exhibition in London. Michael Sandle's "Iraq Triptych" was unveiled last Wednesday to the media. The triptych depicts British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his wife, Cherie, as Adam and Eve.
The figures appear as if they are struggling to cover their nude forms outside their Downing Street home. However, there is a deeper meaning to this piece as it seems that Blair is struggling to 'hide' from the controversy over British involvement in the Iraq conflict.
The two figures stand before their door with a scene from hell surrounding them. A soldier beats a hooded and naked prisoner in one corner while a pile of corpses- one with tape covering its mouth- give a deathly gaze at onlookers. Does this piece suggest that Blair can't escape the horrors of Iraq even in the comforts of his own home? Or does it suggest that the war could very well come 'home'- to the streets of London? Does the image of Blair and his wife as Adam and Eve hint at this conflict being more about religion than oil, safety, or anything else? Are the central figures supposed to reflect a sense of clam from the surrounding storm? I'm not certain- but lately I tend to feel that any piece that involves individuals of 'supposed' status is nothing more than kitsch- a cheap way to strike at the hearts of viewers. I'm sick of it.
While using images of the powerful, wealthy, and popular is nothing new in the art world, I see a trend lately that seems to focus on said use in order to gain media attention for the artists- nothing more. After all, the media was invited to view the piece before anyone else (It will be open to the public on Monday).
This is a common practice, but this piece is supposed to reflect a public view- those who are upset with Blair's policy. I would think it would have been better to allow the public to view it first. In my eyes this piece has lost a great deal of integrity before it has even hit the eye of the public.
True, it might be good business practice for an artists to work in this manner- due to the exposure- but I'm to the point that I can't respect artists who exploit the cult of personality, celebrity, or whatever you wish to call it. Can't the Daniel Edwards and Michael Sandles of the art world think of a better way to express the struggles of our time? Or do they have to rely on such images in order for their art to have an impact with the public?
It seems that the trend of artists using popular images to 'enhance' the meaning behind a work of art is growing. It goes beyond anything Warhol set out to do. This practice is leaking into the academic community as well and it is a practice that I'm starting to loathe. This is the 'naked truth' as I see it.
Perhaps I'm being harsh, but I appreciate viewing art that conveys a strong message without having to resort to such imagery. What do you think? Do I need to open my eyes? Or am I viewing this work for what it really is?
Keep in mind that Sandle's piece is among 1,200 works in the Royal Academy exhibition. Why is it that out of all of that art this piece gains media attention? True, the media loves controversy, but I'm sure there is ample supply of controversial art at the exhibit that does not involve the image of a politician or celebrity.
That is what leads me to think that certain artists are creating work like this in order to gain media exposure- they know it will be covered in the media. I think they are gaining it for themselves rather than for the message they are spinning. Again, that is the 'naked truth' that I've observed as of late. Open my eyes- if you can.
Take care, Stay true