Thursday, May 09, 2019

Get That Art In A Burqa, Stat!

The Times: Saatchi Gallery covers up SKU artworks after complaints by Muslims

The artwork itself is now covered in what very well looks like a burqa, as can be seen in the linked article.

The art, being a critical commentary on Islam and its interaction with the west, had Arabic script overlaid on some nude images. If you couldn't predict what was going to happen when you did that. . .

Well, just like the real life interaction between Islam and the West, there's been a rather fractious and vociferous uproar of blasphemy and offense from the Muslim community.

Rather provocatively, the artist included the Shahada, or Muslim declaration of faith, on the image and that's where the outrage began, including comparison to the Satanic Verses. Note the author of the Satanic Verses got a fatwa and multiple and very real death threats and attmepts on his life, so the artist in this case is likely also in a bit of trouble too.

Offensive? Most certainly.

However, clearly no more offensive than for example Piss Christ or Mary in Elephant dung, and Banksy's anti-semitic art display at Art Basel in Miami -- all of which were on prominent display in art galleries without fear, nor were they ever covered up. This is because Christians and Jews, while they may get annoyed and consider it offensive, and even write letters to the editor complaining about it, in the West they don't kill people over offensive art these days.

If you're going to display provocative art, knowing it is provocative, retreating after there's a reaction to the provocation is rather weak indeed, and it tends to reinforce and reward threatening behavior. Setting a policy that offensive art is ok, just as long as it doesn't offend Islam, has some very bad consequences.

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