I love Art. Always have. I understand that art is what the viewer interprets it to be which makes art even more “funner”(thanks Kathryn and Maia). I don’t think you heard me,
But today I was reading an article (http://mic.com/articles/94798/this-artist-is-wearing-white-women-as-scarves-to-send-a-controversial-message?utm_source=policymicFB&utm_medium=main&utm_campaign=social) that really just made me laugh out loud about the intentions of a specific artistic piece.
The article brings to surface the works of an “artist,” 36 year old Nate Hill, and his project “Trophy Scarves.” The project depicts Hill in various stages of selfies while he has a white woman draped across his shoulders as a scarf. He believes the project to be “a satire as a social critique to desire and power.” Said Hill, “I wear white women for status and power.”
What most surprises me here (out of all the wrongs being done) is the fact that this “artist” is allowed to make a satirical exhibition of an act that teeters the lines of a racist one. This act, I understand and can in some lowball train of thought relate to how humorous it may be to his audience, remains akin to the same reigns of reverse-racism that African-American comedians employ in their comedy acts. They are allowed to blatantly refer to whites in derogatory terms but in no way is that same leeway given to white comedians when they use the “n-word” in their acts (see Michael Richards career crash and burn). Hill says, “I’m half black and half white, but wanted to pretend to be a ‘black man’ [with] which I have never identified.” So maybe if Richards had appeared on stage “pretending” to be a black man, then his message would have been duly received. Oh no, that would have been Richards in black face, which would have opened an entirely different can of worms.
The wearing of a white woman across the shoulders of a black man, regardless of whether he is biracial or not, is simply deplorable. Earlier in 2014 there appeared a photo of Garage Magazine editor-in-chief Dasha Zhukova perched atop a piece of “art” conceived by Norwegian Bjarne Melgaard (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/20/dasha-zhukova-black-woman-chair-buro-247-editorial_n_4633544.html)
supposedly to provide a much needed “commentary on gender and politics.” Ahh, not so much. The piece also available in “white woman” was not received well by the public, as it should not have been, because it was not art that served as a positive beacon for audiences home or stateside. But, as questioned before, is it truly satirical and laughable (because it is performed) when portrayed by an African American, or at least the black half of a biracial artist? That isn’t right.
If one is to perceive that they are serving a message to the masses by promoting discourse of gender and politics, then serve that message on a platter with ingredients that are able to be cooked, served-to and further digested by all patrons because of the sheer genius of forethought and deep intent. Not because it involved a spoilage precipitated by contrast of color and deemed superior and rich in class-climbing nutrients. As offensive as it was for Zhukova to have ensconced herself in such a non-secret position atop the chair, so is it for Hill to be slinging a scantily clad representation of “a white trophy” atop his shoulders.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand that art is art and is to be interpreted by the audience in whatever manner in which they choose. Muck like poetry, art is subjective to the thoughts and ideas of those that share the same love of the medium, but have walked different roads, therefore being able to relive and/or draw upon their own extremely different perceptions of the piece. But when your ideas are centered around the uncomfortability of race and gender specifics, a satire or retro furniture is not the way to go.
What’s next, satirical pieces supporting and glorifying the “rape culture,” or BuzzFeed Top 10 lists of the best domestic violence, drug dealing, prison inmate roles for the African American male actor? Oh wait, they may have already been done. Art is meant to uplift, not downgrade. If an African American male desires to “up his status,” as Hill expounds as being motivation for his piece, then shouldn’t his self-esteem do that for him alone? Shouldn’t the opportunity to have his art seen by the world be enough to motivate him to design art that takes more talent than a mirror, a cellphone and a willing alabaster complexioned Millennial who clearly doesn’t understand that she is adding to the “problematic topics… specifically concerning the portrayal of white women in the media,” instead of reducing the negative imprint that has already previously been stamped?