Art – Who has to right to see it

These are the antics people do to cause some controversy and attention, or is it what goes around comes around?

It looked as if it was taken from a movie scene. In October, masked men stormed into the Kulturen Gallery in Skåne, Sweden and took a crow bar and axe to the large Ilfochrome works by the American photographer, Andres Serrano. In 90 seconds, it was all over, and what was left had the potential to be art in itself. In the rampage of the morality of taste, the photographs were scarred, scattered on the floor of the gallery or completely destroyed. It was by all means an unconventional installation piece.

But what incensed these thugs? What had them so outraged to give their forthright view on morals of Art? The show, A history of sex, was an exhibition that dealt with theperversive aspects that surround sex. Mr. Serrano’s photographs may have very well been provocative, as he toyed with the idea within the spectrum of the unseen acts which people do engage sexually. To push the boundaries of what humans find pleasurable certainly wilded up these bandits as they hacked and gored at the parts of the photographs which exposed the genitals in some sort of physical contact.

At one point, the camera focused on a photograph of a white man giving fellatio to a upright black man and the attacker repeated hacked at the man’s penis yet seemed less agitated with kneeling man. It made you wonder at the degree of racism at a time people should be less ignorant. Out of hate, envy and disgust, they neglected to allow individuals the right to express themselves, and further, it boosted the artist’s career by the defiled act. His works are now more infallible. People will be curious to see which are the works that caused such repulsion.

In general, Mr Serrano photographs emanate an appeal from the Renaissance in the way light falls on the his subjects in the art of chiaroscuro. They look as if they were photographed outside at night. But they are stark cold with the undertones of grounded catholicism. Yet, not as clever as Pierre et Gilles or as warm and sensual as with Robert Mapplethorpe.

Mr. Serrano is not new to controversy regarding his work, in 1989, he used his own urine as a patina for the work entitled the Piss Christ. It raised the debate over public fundings and artistic freedoms in United States. So the age old question bubbles to the surface from both sides of the coin. Who decides in Art, what we can see?

Video stills from a Swedish Nationalist group responsible for the destruction of several photographic works in October, 2007, Kulturen Gallery, Sweden. The incident was posted on youtube.
A history of sex – Fotografier av Andres Serrano

Andres Serrano ställer ut sin bildsvit A History of Sex på Kulturen. Den består av 14 porträtt av människor som utför sexuella handlingar.

The History of Sex exhibition continues till December, 2007

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