Friday, May 29, 2020

When Attitudes Become Mindless Plundering: Art and Class in America

Vandals over the weekend plastered the Prada Marfa exhibit with posters and paint. The incident is under investigation. ( Courtesy of Rita Weigart)

Vandals over the weekend plastered the Prada Marfa exhibit with posters and paint. The incident is under investigation. ( Courtesy of Rita Weigart)

If there’s one thing I hold dear, it’s The First Amendment. But perhaps above that are property rights. I want to make it clear that the mindless violence that some perpetrators unleashed on Elmgreen & Dragset’s Prada Marfa is not protected free speech. There may be content to their mindless destruction — political, cultural or aesthetic — but their right to express those feelings/thoughts (and assuming they even had those feelings/thoughts) does not override a property owners’ legal right to rely on the premise that they can leave their property unattended without fear of someone vandalizing and destroying their property. This belief, that one’s ignorance and feeling of powerlessness justifies mindless violence and attacks on other people’s property is disturbing enough.

What adds to this incomprehensible immaturity is the fact that there seems to be a recent upsurge in the vandalizing and destruction of art.  Ai Weiwei’s vase, of course, and this laundry-list from The Tate Britain’s recent exhibition on art vandalism and iconoclasm.

(Photo: Courtesy of Rita Weigart)

(Photo: Courtesy of Rita Weigart)

But why the hate? I’m not so sure about other parts of the world, but it seems to me that the constant class-fear-mongering going on in Congress and the White House is taking it’s toll on Americans, many of which can’t identify with so-called contemporary art, its financial excesses, as well as the pretension by many artists that they care about the economy and working class conditions. Just note this recent HuffPo article.

This doesn’t mean I condone the mindless blabber on Prada Marfa. Far from it. I say make the suckers pay. I say add a Visual Artists Rights Act claim to the criminal actions that can be brought against the perpetrators. Let’s get this on the national stage and bring attention not just to Prada Marfa, but to what kind of havoc a mindless prank like this can wreck on a small Texas-town and its community. I’m game!


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