Now you can view this blog on your mobile phones! Give a try.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Culture Wars - Richard Bolton

Anshuman Manur


Thesis Statement: The battle over the NEA and the larger context of this battle.

Paragraph 1:

Topic Sentence: On May 18, 1989, Senator Alphonse D'Amato tore up a reproduction of Piss Christ, a photograph by artist Andres Serrano, and threw the pieces to the floor of the U.S. Senate.

Supporting Statements: tore up a reproduction of Piss Christ - deplorable, despicable, display of vulgarity - received funding from the NEA

Paragraph 2:

Topic Sentence: So began a vocal two-year battle between politicians and artists over the budget and reauthorization of the NEA.

Supporting Statements: vocal two-year battle - not a partisan clash over federal budget - debate over concepts of morality - clash over the condition of American society - anthology - understanding of the battle over the NEA - provide larger context

Paragraph 3:

Topic Sentence: But two positions have remained central to the controversy.

Supporting Statements: many view-points - two central positions - Liberals - violate the First Amendment rights of the artists - censorship - control artists politically - Congress - no right to interfere - NEA's decision-making process - based in peer review - many successes

Paragraph 4:

Topic Sentence: None. (Extends ideas supporting the topic sentence of the previous paragraph)

Supporting Statements: Conservatives - government sponsorship - spend tax dollars wisely - placing restrictions - reasonable - provocative art - insult the taxpayers - not a question of free speech - abuse of taxpayer's money

Paragraph 5:

Topic Sentence: In short, those on the Left want to join the issues of censorship and sponsorship, and those on the Right want to separate them.

Supporting Statements: freedom is the interest of every citizen - taxpayer supports the freedom to make art - artists can do whatever on their own time and their own dime - Cato the Censor - an end to the use of federal funds to support outrageous 'art'

Paragraph 6:

Topic Sentence: This amendment, attached to an appropriations bil that provided the NEA with its annual budget, aimed to limit severely the kinds of art that could receive funding.

Supporting Statements: 'indecent' art depicting sadomasochism, homoeroticism, children or the sex act itself - 'denigrating' any person's religion, nonreligion, race, creed, sex, handicap, age, or national origin - withhold funding from critical art

Paragraph 7:

Topic Sentence: Yet inspite of legislators' skepticism, a version of the amendment still became law.

Supporting Statements: profound shortcomings of this legislation - a range of works of literature would have violated the Helms amendment - how a vote for the NEA would look to the "folks back home" - thirty-second political commercial aimed at any senator voting against

Paragraph 8:

Topic Sentence: The final statute - Public Law 101-121 - was a diluted version of the Helms amendment based on Miller v. California, the Supreme Court decision that stands as the legal definition of obscenity.

Supporting Statements: artists, as citizens, are subject to the Miller ruling - the wording of the Public Law...invite wide interpretation and abuse - the law satisfied no one - Conservatives lobbied for stricter measures - artists were outraged - NEA asked grantees to sign pledges of restriction - artists forfeited the funding - NEA pledge failed a court challenge - government officials were willing to harass artists under Conservative pressure

harass, satisfied no one

Paragraph 9:

Topic Sentence: What was at stake in this debate for conservatives?

Supporting Statements: artists trying to introduce a progressive agenda - artists engaged in antisocial activity - challenging traditional values - the government should not fund antisocial activity

progressive agenda, antisocial activity

Paragraph 10:

Topic Sentence: In his remarks "On the Official Funding of Religious Bigotry," Gorton argued that the government really should not fund the arts at all.

Supporting Statements: considered expression by Senator Slade Gorton - art must be free - the state must not take sides in purely symbolic disputes - support for this work is violation of the separation of church and state

bigotry, symbolic disputes

Paragraph 11:

Topic Sentence: Many disagreements can be raised here.

Supporting Statements: Piss Christ might be a work that interrogates religion - the interests of the state may have something to do with the arts - the state does take sides in disputes over symbols

disagreements, interrogates, arguable

Paragraph 12:

Topic Sentence: Critic James Cooper (one of the few who would not allow his editorials to be reproduced in this volume) was the source of many of the more influential, and less reasonable, arguments.

Supporting Statements: he worked to rally the Right - sacred symbols were being savaged - American cultural values were laid waste - Conservatives had to produce an alternate culture that is morally and aesthetically superior - modern art had become the purveyor of anti-American ideology

elitist cabal, anti-American ideology

Paragraph 13:

Topic Sentence: Cooper's arguments are a good example of the way in which conservatives attempted to use the NEA debate to promote "traditional American values," which, for conservativies, bore a striking resemblance to their own agenda - patriotic, profamilly, prochurch, antigay.

Supporting Statements: None.

traditional American values

Paragraph 14:

Topic Sentence: Columnist Patrick Buchanan, quite influenced by Cooper's editorials, issued a call to arms for this agenda.

Supporting Statements: "America needs a cultural revolution" - the demagoguery evident in many editorials was shocking - Serrano's supporters were "aesthetic cretins" - The Times compared artists to pigs

perversions, revolution, extremism

Paragraph 15:

Topic Sentence: As the NEA debate progressed, Buchanan found more and more proof of the corruption of American society.

Supporting Statements: Patrick Buchanan's blunt remarks were quoted by the Right and the Left - he implicated artists in the spiritual decline of the country - the Left has been siezing the heights of American culture

spiritual decline

Paragraph 16: 

Topic Sentence: The subsequent controversy surrounding Mapplethorpe's work gave Buchanan an opportunity to decry homosexuality...

Supporting Statements: homosexuality as another factor in the country's decline - Mapplethorpe photographed the degraded acts by which he killed himself - we can defund the poisoners of culture


Paragraph 17:

Topic Sentence: Buchanan again attempted to tie together art and homosexuality in an editorial on Witnesses, the controversial NEA-funded exhibition on the subject of AIDS.

Supporting Statements: the gay and the arts community suffer from an infantile disorder - the gays want medical research to save them from AIDS - the artists want society to honour and fund them

AIDS, subsidize

Paragraph 18:

Topic Sentence: The discussion in the Washington Times about Mapplethorpe brought out the worst in conservative commentators, many of whom fell even lower than Buchanan.

Supporting Statements: Judith Reisman accused Mapplethorpe of being a Nazi - Mapplethorpe's photos shared features of Fascist art - She accused him of being a child molester - His Honey (1976) advertises the availability of the child for photographic assault and rape

fascist, child-molesting

Paragraph 19:

Topic Sentence: None. (continues from previous paragraph)

Supporting Statements: Richard Grenier writes about setting fire to Mapplethorpe's body as performance art - He'd try to get a grant for this from the NEA


Paragraph 20:

Topic Sentence: But conservatives have been doing much more than talk.

Supporting Statements: Political and religious activists have been trying to forment a cultural revolution since the beginning of the Reagan era - conservatives desire to eliminate symbols, images and ideas they don't like from the public space

Paragraph 21:

Topic Sentence: The Reverand Donald Wildmon has been one of the most dedicated religious activists of the last decade, and a close look at his work reveals much about the conservative cultural project.

Supporting Statements: Wildmon first came to public attention through the NEA debate - He campaigned agains television programmes and films - He co-created the Coalition for Better Television - He has operated the American Family Association

conservative cultural project

Paragraph 22:

Topic Sentence: Wildmon's strategy - attacking NEA funding and otherwise setting the stage for economic censorship - was consistent with his past actions against the patrons of popular culture.

Supporting Statements: Wildmon has made frequent use of consumer boycott - He convinced Proctor and Gamble to withdraw support for dozens of programmes - Wildmon aims his efforts at those who disseminate culture - He organised a boycott of Holiday Inn for televised pornography (Congress has used similar strategy for controversial art)

consumer boycott strategy

Paragraph 23:

Topic Sentence: In recent years, Wildmon has broadened his attacks, going after more visible targets.

Supporting Statements: He led a nationwide boycott against The Last Temptatoin of Christ (anti-religious) - He convinced Pepsi to cancel their commercial contract with Madonna (open sexuality) - He persuaded CBS to remove clippings from a cartoon (apparent drug reference) - He initiated the attack on the NEA and on Piss Christ

broadened attacks

Paragraph 24: 

Topic Sentence: What does Wildmon believe is at stake in his work?

Supporting Statements: He claims to be involved in a great spiritual struggle - He believes that Christian values are being replaced by secular-humanist values - He states that, left to the liberals, intellectuals, blacks and feminists would run society while Christians and the military would have very little influence

spiritual struggle, christian values

Paragraph 25: 

Topic Sentence: These prejudices have grown even more overt in recent years.

Supporting Statements: he informed readers of USA Today that The Last Temptation of Christ had a jewish background - he urged Christians to boycott the film - his goal for 1989 was to force the cancellation of TV programmes depicting homosexuals in a positive light - he found the threat of "heathens and homosexuals" in the art world - he claims that art museums depict bias and bigotry against christians - The AFA declared Mapplethorpe's work as being taxpayer funded homosexual pornography

homosexuals and heathens

Paragraph 26:

Topic Sentence: Reverend Wildmon has an ideological partner in Senator Jesse Helms, the most prominent anti-NEA legislator.

Supporting Statements: Senator Helms warns that homosexuals, feminists and civil libertarians are active promoting their anti-American agenda - He declared Andres Serrano to be a jerk who is taunting the American people

disgust, anti-family and anti-American

Paragraph 27:

Topic Sentence: Helms' broad agenda is also revealing, for his views place in the extreme Right of the Republican Party.

Supporting Statements: He tried to prevent Martin Luther King Jr's birthday from becoming a national holiday - He attempted to remove amnesty provisions for illegal aliens - He supported Roberto d'Aubuisson's failed campaign for the presidency of El Salvador (with d'Aubuisson's links to the death squads in the country) - He extended sympathies to Augusto Pinochet after worldwide criticism of his violence against civilians in Chili - He and other conservatives tried to buy CBS to end its "liberal bias" - He is a key player in the movement to make abortion illegal - He proposed compulsory AIDS testing - He successfully led an effort to deny federal AIDS funds to groups advocating homosexuality

extreme Right

Paragraph 28:

Topic Sentence: In short, behind conservative arguments about governmetn support for the arts could be found extraordinarily repressive social and political goals. Yet Conservatives often portrayed themselves as the champions of community values - as the voice of the people.

Supporting Statements: Reverend Wildmon is fond of this strategy - According to him, the NEA claims that artists are superior in talent to the working masses - He asks the Senate to stop funding to the NEA or fund all artists - carpentars, brick masons, truck drivers, sales clerks etc.

champions of community values

Paragraph 29:

Topic Sentence: In an editorial about the NEA, he complained that government subsidies for culture only benefit higher-income people.

Supporting Statements: He wanted programmes such as MacNeil/Lehrer-Newshour not to receive any government subsidy - He claims that the programme doesn't inform the uninformed but better informs the well-informed.

subsidies for culture

Paragraph 30:

Topic Sentence: A populist argument?

Supporting Statements: Samuelson's argument that all government subsidy for public communication should cease is not populist as it wouldn't help inform the larger public - The editorial is another attack on the "liberal" media

Paragraph 31:

Topic Sentence: And in matters of policy, conservative activists and officials have consistently opposed government programmes that would benefit the typical worker.

Supporting Statements: Conservatives detest popular culture - They have opposed any raise in the minimum wage for a decade - They have supported many antiunion actions - Conservative administrations have offered little educational assistance, job training, or health care to working people - Conservative "working-class" concern over arts funding seems like a way to tap popular resentment of wealth

conservative policy

Paragraph 32:

Topic Sentence: Conservatives do not seem to worry about the inequities of American society because they believe that our economic system is full of democratic possibilities - the marketplace is held up as a direct reflection of popular will.

Supporting Statements: Senator Helms believes that artists should 'go out and test the magic of the marketplace' - His statements assert that the marketplace is innately good and will provide social harmony if left alone - Contrastingly, conservatives have been manipulating the marketplace by subsidizing defense companies and the savings and loan industries - At the same time, they have tried to remove the 'safety net' for the poor (welfare state policy)

free-enterprise system

Paragraph 33:

Topic Sentence: Conservatives know that the subsidised, non-profit art world is of vital importance to artists.

Supporting Statements: Government subsidy helps free artists from the pressures of the marketplace - This is feared because it would give artists the independance of critical thought - Restrictions on funding can force artists to become dependant on the marketplace, thereby reducing public engagement with art

privatisation of art

Paragraph 34:

Topic Sentence: Conservatives my trust the market-place to be astabilising force in society, but the marketplace continues to place great value on transgression.

Supporting Statements: Mapplethorpe's work was successful in the marketplace - Controversies have increased the market-value of his work - Sex still sells, and therefore conservatives do not completely endorse the market - The evangelical Right is wary of the corrupting influences of the market


Paragraph 35:

Topic Sentence: Cultural conservatives, primarily those critics associated with the New Criterion, also had much to say.

Supporting Statements: Samuel Lipman and Hilton Kramer of the New Criterion want to restructure the production and patronage of high culture - Both are suspicious of art that is popular - Lipman believes that art is being destroyed by attempts to expand it - He wants the government to invest in an academy to institutionalise tradition - He despairs that culture since the 1960s had become another branch of Broadway and Hollywood - He believes that artists were being seen as entertainers and the arts as entertainment

cultural conservative

Paragraph 36:

Topic Sentence: This tendency is said to affect us to this day.

Supporting Statements: Lipman believes that the greatest art is the heritage of all - The public must be up to the challenge of this art - Else it might become 'the advocacy of genteel diversions' or 'the provision of fodder for the voracious maw of a debased popular culture'


Paragraph 37:

Topic Sentence: Lipman brought this perspective to the NEA debate.

Supporting Statements: He had worked on an evaluation report of the NEA early in the 1980s - The report criticised the NEA for its attempts at expansion towards an "unsophisticated mass public" - According to it the NEA had grown more concerned with goals of social policy


Paragraph 38:

Topic Sentence: During the 1989-1990 debate, LIpman sustained these various arguments.

Supporting Statements: He saw decadence in Mapplethorpe's work - He demanded the government to champion the "high art of the past" - He argued that the problems with the NEA was due to the lack of a clear national cultural policy - Hence art administrators were given a free hand reducing art to a "handmaiden of anger, violence, and social upheaval" - And hence an unspoken agenda of "affirmative action, multiculturalism, and disruptive avant-gardism" was being implemented

national cultural policy

Paragraph 39:

Topic Sentence: Hilton Kramer, the editor of the New Criterion, echoed many of Lipman's points, but took a more moralistic tone.

Supporting Statements: He felt that Mapplethorpe's work represented men as "homosexual objects" - He believed that not all forms of art are socially benign - And that certain forms of art have a devastating effect on the moral sensibilities of the young

moralistic tone

Paragraph 40:

Topic Sentence: None. (continued from previous paragraph)

Supporting Statements: Hilton Kramer feels that the art world's attempts to force the public to accept a sexual sub-culture that is loathsome - And that the NEA is sentimentally attached to the avant-garde, that art is best when it is "extreme and disruptive"


Paragraph 41:

Topic Sentence: It is important to recognise that although Lipman and Kramer have gone to great lengths to separate themselves from the conservative hoi polloi, in the end the views they express are very similar to those of Wildmon and Helms.

Supporting Statements: Both schools of conservative thought believe that the NEA has fallen into the wrong hands - Into the hands of liberals and radicals - And they are attempting to undermine the morality of the United States, spread corruption, and disrespect for authority

paleo- and neoconservatives

Paragraph 42:

Topic Sentence: Broad claims about the will of the people can be made by conservatives precisely because many mechanisms for public aprticipation have been dismantled over the last decade.

Supporting Statements: Conservatives have presided over the development of non-participatory democracy - Controls on public expression and negative political campaigns have alienated people from the political process - Only 60% of the population is registered to vote - The gap between rich and poor has increased - As has the disparities in education

public participation, disparities

Paragraph 43:

Topic Sentence: In fact, the success of politicians in recent years has not depended on their ability to sustain and engage a diverse public; instead success depends on a politician's ability to create an image of a mandate.

Supporting Statements: Democracy now proceeds through the manipulation of "perception" - Politicians can construct a "public interest" - The views of those in power have become representative - Through efforts to control the expression of political differences, Conservatives are able to pertray themselves as populist

manipulation of perception, image of a mandate

Paragraph 44:

Topic Sentence: In their debate, opponents of the NEA practiced a political strategy developed by anticommunists in the 1950s: accuse those with whom you disagree of sedition and immorality; but first, marginalise this opposition, and limit its access to public communication.

Supporting Statements: The commitment of the US government to public communication varies from era to era - The 1980s marked a low point in public communication - Attempts to restrict funding for the arts came at the end of this decade

public communication, exchange of ideas

Paragraph 45:

Topic Sentence: Although these efforts are too numerous to describe here fully, some knowledge of them is needed if the attack on the NEA is to be understood within a larger political context.

Supporting Statements: Novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez, playwright Dario Fo, author Farley Mowat were denied entrance to the the US - Author Margaret Randall was attempted to be deported for advocating world communism - A prize-winning antinuclear Canadian film was labelled as "propoganda" and the names of every citizen who received these films had to filed with the government - In 1981 the CIA and the FBI were given authority for domestic surveillance - Which led to the FBI's "Library Awareness Programme", where librarians were asked to spy on foreign nationals doing research on sensitive topics - New controls on sceientific and scholarly research was implemented - Government employees were asked to sign nondisclosure agreements subjecting them to official review for life - Rules were modified to make public communication more difficult for nonprofit groups - Lie detectors and drug tests were considered for federal employees

larger political context

Paragraph 46:

Topic Sentence: In the communications industry, the deregulation of broadcasting made broadcasters less responsible to the public.

Supporting Statements: The airwaves were no longer considered to be public resources - Restrictions on commercial advertising fell by the wayside - As did regulations governing children's programming - The "Fairness Doctrine", the rule requiring balanced treatment of controversial issues was vetoed by President Reagan - Restrictions on media ownership were loosened - Which resulted in a concentration of media monopolies further diminishing the spectrum of ideas in the public sphere


Paragraph 47:

Topic Sentence: Direct moves were made to silence the press.

Supporting Statements: Reporting was controlled during the invasions of Grenada and Panama - Government controlled news outrightly during the Gulf War

controlling the news

Paragraph 48:

Topic Sentence: Looking once again at the demagoguery that characterised the crisis (which continues to this day), and recognising that the communicatoin system in our country stymies true debate and analysis, it becomes clear how the attack on the arts went as far as it did.

Supporting Statements: The public was informed through exaggerated statements - The works and artists got only one-line summaries - Public communication did not aim at discussion, but aimed to stimulate, enrage, and entertain through stereotypes - The art world found it difficult to negotiate the closed system of public communication

public communication

 Paragraph 49:

Topic Sentence: That is why we have the First Amendment...

Supporting Statements: The majority cannot be counted on to defend controversial speech - The First Amendment serves to protect the views of the minority - The Constitution gives dissent a central role in democratic system - Free speech is meant to keep government honest and encourage decentralisation of power

dissent, democracy

Paragraph 50:

Topic Sentence: Such faith in teh First Amendment informed the government's approach to the NEA in the past.

Supporting Statements: Lyndon Johnson stressed the importance of facilitating artistic speech and minimising government influence - He stated that freedom was an essential condition for the artist - And that the government can seek to create conditions under which the arts can flourish - And that was the goal of the legislation that brought the NEA into existence


Paragraph 51:

Topic Sentence: A specific policy of noninterference was written into the National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities Act of 1965, the law creating the NEA.

Supporting Statements: Support for arts was a government responsibility - Government shall not interfere in the administration of this Act

government responsibility

Paragraph 52:

Topic Sentence: Many legislators, Republican as well as Democratic, worried that the Endowment woul dbe dominated by politics, and this policy of noninterference provided one solution. A second solution was found in teh establishment of a grant review system based on panels composed of art-world peers.

Supporting Statements: The Senate committee remarked on the success of both of these measures

noninterference, review system

Paragraph 53:

Topic Sentence: In the past, there have been small controversies over projects that have received Endowment funding.

Supporting Statements: In 1974 a one-word funded poem created a stir - In 1984 a production of Rigoletto was thought to be anti-Italian-American - But these arguments did not undermine the policy of noninterference - In 1985, Republican Dick Arnmey questioned the funding of homoerotic poems through the NEA - An amendment was proposed to reject works considered offensive and lacking in artistic merit - The amendment was rejected


Paragraph 54:

Topic Sentence: Ironically, conservatives themselves hve expressed the importance of protecting the process of the NEA from politics.

Supporting Statements: The Heritage Foundation's Mandate for Leadership insisted that art must be independant because it does not move in obedience -  But when the Right gained power, this stance was forgotten

protecting NEA

Paragraph 55:

Topic Sentence: Ideally, when the government guarantees a forum for free speech, it will not discriminate between the viewpoints expressed in that forum.

Supporting Statements: Broadcasting's "Fairness Doctrine" is a good example of this philosophy broadening debate on the principle of "the more speech, the better" - Any move to eliminate the NEA would be seen as an attack on institutionalised venue of open speech - Using economic means would be considered a more covert form of censorship - The Helms amendment and Public Law 101-121 promoted censorship

First Amendment

Paragraph 56:

Topic Sentence: The NEA's policy of noninterference does not mean that the grant selection process is completely neutral.

Supporting Statements: The art world is on the whole is fairly liberal - Criteria for quality are idealogical and thus the issue of subjectivity in the grant process is a thorny one - Disagreements about meaning and quality will be present no matter what - There does not seem to have been an attempt to implement an ideological agenda by judging work on viewpoint alone - Each panel must struggle to make fair decisions - Peer-panel review is far less capricious than decision-making by officials or politicians

struggle for fair decisions

Paragraph 57:

Topic Sentence: But if our democracy is to function fully, the government must also guarantee free speech, providing opportunities for public communication just as it provides opportunities for education.

Supporting Statements: A policy of noninterference is consistent with the way the government facilitates speech - The government's role in free speech is portrayed as merely passive - But government often intervenes to guarantee free speech - It supports viewpoints that might otherwise go unheard - It restricts monopolies in the field of communications - It provides public funding to political candidates - It bestows tax-exempt status on a variety of nonprofit organisations

facilitates free speech

Paragraph 58:

Topic Sentence: is difficult to believe that the NEA has been overrun by liberals and other "vocal constituencies."

Supporting Statements: The NEA's policy of noninterference has funded many progressive works - Conservatives have claimed that these works are typical - But most of the agency's defenders stressed that the status quo had been improved rather than challenged - They stressed its role in sustaining history and tradition - And its role in sustaining rural and Native American cultures


Paragraph 59:

Topic Sentence: Few spokespeople came directly to the defense of experimental artists and art forms.

Supporting Statements: Commentators offered straight First Amendment defenses - They supported the right of the artist to be disgusting - They gave support to the idea of the socially concerned artist in a very general way only - Progressive artists got the message that the NEA did not want to be a partner to social change

speak the unspeakable

Paragraph 60:

Topic Sentence: This was not the only lesson learnt by progressive artists.

Supporting Statements: The NEA controversy created doubts about the role of art and particularly political art in American society - Art critic Eleanor Heartney felt that the crisis revealed a social irresponsiblity among artists - She believed that the art world had absolved itself of real moral or social responsibility - She felt that artists had to believe in freedom of expression before trying to convince society of it - She complained that the art world was distracted by commercialism


Paragraph 61:

Topic Sentence: The issue is a complex one, but if the art world is indeed cut off from participation in public life, it is important to ascertain whether artists have contributed to this problem.

Supporting Statements: Some artists have responded to the collapse of public communication in America by withdrawing into their own successes - Others have attempted to challenge the prejudices - Critical art must reexamine prevailing presumptions and strategies

participation in public life

Paragraph 62:

Topic Sentence: One of the central controversies in the NEA debate involved a catalog essay for the Witnesses exhibition at Artists Space in New York City.

Supporting Statements: The essay attacked many public figures who have publicly opposed homosexuality and AIDS research - It described unpleasantly many promininent public figures from the Right and this did not sit well with the NEA opponents

infamous description

Paragraph 63:

Topic Sentence: But (Wojnarowicz's) words must be placed within the context of existing power relations.

Supporting Statements: It would be contradictory for the art world to support Wojnarowicz's words after the outrage at nasty conservative comments - Wojnarowicz's as an artist, a gay man, and as a person with AIDS has very little voice - His words may be his only weapon under the circumstances - His demagoguery cannot be compared to the demagoguery of Senator Helms - A distinction must be made between the words of teh powerful and those of the powerless

critique of public figures

Paragraph 64:

Topic Sentence: ...a general question still exists: Have the strategies of opposition adopted by political artists been used appropriately?

Supporting Statements: Political artists have chosen to turn up the volume of their work - Polemical works of art are not the most effective way to create meaningful social change as it cannot escape the reductive logic of conservative agenda - Political artists see a an oversimplified picture of power - And from that, they have created a distorted picture of social experience - They have projected a view that reinforces conditions of inequality

Paragraph 65:

Topic Sentence: Take for instance, the work of performance artist Karen Finley.

Supporting Statements: Finley was denied a grant that had been awarded by a review panel - The panel felt that her work deserved government support by representing a moving critique of power - But Finley's art also provided an example of the limitations of oppositional art - In Finley's world all suffering was depicted equally, including that of the artist - She even offered herself in a Christ-like stand-in for oppressed people - By doing this critics felt that she had drawn false sterotypes

limitations of oppositional art

Paragraph 66:

Topic Sentence: To (critic) Spillane, this indicated "the art-making population's troublingly restricted notion of who its audience needs to be, and its equally troubling lack of alarm at who is being entirely left out."

Supporting Statements: Finley's performance is more troubling when one considers her privileged audience - Critical art, tailored to a specific audience, risks becoming nothing more than a ritual release of guilt - Oppositional art as part of the status-quo risks perpetuating the very authority it seeks to challenge


Paragraph 67:

Topic Sentence: It may seem counterproductive, even wrongheaded, to raise the issue of political art's absorption into the mainstream...

Supporting Statements: Political art had been heavily criticised during the NEA debate - After all, Karen Finley and other like-minded artists are still on the margins - And their work is still a challenge to the status quo - Their brief notoreity is not the same as fame - Questions about the purpose and effectiveness of political art was raised repeatedly during the debate


Paragraph 68:

Topic Sentence: ...Artist Holly Hughes, when the NEA refused her a grant for works addressing the subject of lesbianism, rightfully protested the homophobia that was evident in Congress and at the NEA.

Supporting Statements: She felt that because homosexual artists were so invisible, their problems were invisible as well - Critic Sarah Schulman was troubled by the tokenism evident in the funding structure - She warned successful lesbian artists that success did not give them the right to speak out for the entire community

tokenism, visibility

Paragraph 69:

Topic Sentence: In her essay, Schulman also argued more broadly about the art world's failure to address social reality.

Supporting Statements: She felt that the art world's priorities had gone astray - She described many artists' reaction to the controversy as "fetishised egomania" - She believes that in a city of 90000 homeless people, the art world should see themselves in relation to their own society

Paragraph 70:

Topic Sentence: This insularity was apparent in the ways the art world chose to defend itself during the NEA controversy.

Supporting Statements: Political art has not had a clear effect on society - When homosexual art was attacked, the art world did not defend sexuality directly but defended the right to free speech - As a result, this may have reinforced the perception of an art world that is insulated and aloof - During the defense of Mapplethorpe's work at the Cincinnati obscenity trials, art experts testified to the aesthetic merits of the work, but sexuality was not spoken of

Keywords: insularity

Paragraph 71:

Topic Sentence: Instead it became a battle for power between two sectors of the intelligentsia: the cultural elite and the religious conservative elite.

Supporting Statements: Both sides spoke for but were disconnected from the larger public - The Right used the argument of "outrageous populism" - The Left invented a public that understood both freedom of speech and the rights of artists

Keywords: battle for power

Paragraph 72:

Topic Sentence: Art, like political argument, remained a luxury available only to the members of one elite or the other.

Supporting Statements: Many artists chose to defend a conventional, institutionalised avant-gardism - In this view of art production, artists are visionary and privileged - This model of art is in contrast with the real conditions of art practice - There are many art worlds each with its own distinct relationship to the larger culture and a different audience - The exact relationships of these groups are unknown - And they will remain unknown until limitations upon public speech cease and the assumptions behind art practice are overcome

disconnected, many different art worlds

Paragraph 73:

Topic Sentence: For many progressives, the defense of the NEA was also an attempt to sustain this potential, to defend a cultural arena where change and difference could be proposed.

Supporting Statements: Conservatives and progressives agreed that contemporary art is an agent of social change - For the progressives, once this cultural arena had been defended, it had to be expanded - Cultural institutions could promote a renewal of public life - A shared public culture promotes more people to examine society in detail - If artists cannot link themselves with larger social practices, their free speech will fall on deaf ears

shared public culture

Paragraph 74:

Topic Sentence: The NEA could encourage this work.

Supporting Statements: It could provide funding for new educational approaches to controversial subjects - It could encourage art organisations to strenghthen their relationships to communities - The NEA debates were really about how the public realm should be constituted - Democracy will move forward only if difference is tolerated

democracy, changing conditions of society

Paragraph 75: 

Topic Sentence: Censorship is not the repression of an utterance; it is the attempt to impose order by limiting social experience.

Supporting Statements: Political theorists Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe say that totalitarianism is when the state raises itself to the status of the sole possessor of the truth of the social order - Censorship of the arts reveail the failures of democratic institutions - The NEA debate questioned arts relation to society, and questioned the future of American democracy

state censorship

No comments: