an interesting topic

by Sayraphim on December 17, 2008

On Facebook yesterday, Cate of polka dot rabbit posted this photo:

and the question – what do you think?

It’s by Johnny Ryan and Jenny Ryan and called Soft 9/11. I saw it here on Extreme Craft, however the original post is here on Boing Boing.

It’s stirred heaps of controversy, you only need to look at the hundred of comments on the Boing Boing post. Predictably, there are people calling it disgusting, and other people supporting it, pointing out it’s nowhere near as repulsive as the ‘officialcommemorative products, including a coin and weirdly enough, an official 911 commemorative SCRUNCHIE.

So since I’d two cents-ed all over Cate’s Facebook wall, I figured I’d put it here too.

I think it’s certainly about time 911 was held up to the art microscope. Every chapter in history is scrutinized, internalized and regurgitated as art. Its something humans do. It’s in our world, it’s part of our history and thus it comes out in our art. The Tienanmen Square photo of the man and the tank has been repeated over and over in art, advertising and more. Art reflects the world we live in.

someone replied to this saying I’m sorry. That is NOT art. That is to art what a ringtone is to the 1812 overture.

I liked the analogy of the ringtone. And because I’m currently researching this sort of thing, and I like discussions of this nature, I waded in again

I guess that does totally depend on what your definition of art is. It’s certainly a legitimate reaction to the event.

It was Dechamp that first invented the idea that art is anything an artist decrees as such, by exhibiting the urinal as Art in 1917. This act pretty much sparked off the Modern Art movement, one that Dechamp decried on his deathbed and said that had he known what floodgates he was opening at the time, he never would have done it.

I’m not sure the Ryans are labeling this art, that was my interpretation. But now this is out in the world it’s for it’s audience to label and interpret as they see fit.

I think it’s a totally legitimate reaction to an event. It seems to be humanising it, breaking it down from a huge and horrific event to something small and easily manageable. I think just as Serrano’s Piss Christ was bringing Jesus back down to human, that these plushies are taking a huge and terrifying event and re-presenting it to us in a comical form, to allow us to come out from under it’s terror shadow and move on.

However, I also understand that everyone is going to view it differently.

A couple of other people waded in, defending the artist’s right to make this, but the Not Art man hasn’t said anything more as yet, which is a shame. I was just getting into this one.

I think humans need to process events, break them down and try to understand them in personal terms, so they can figure them out and move on. And I think that 911 was such a huge and frightening event that it’s very difficult to process it. A year after it happened, The theatre company I worked for at the time, theatre in decay, wanted children drawings of a destroyed city for the background of a play they were working on at the time called All Of Which Are American Dreams. The producer went to her old primary school and over a few weeks got the children to draw destroyed and broken cities. Every single one of those children drew planes flying into buildings. This event has been burned into our psyche, and even more so for people in America.

But to understand such an event, and process it, we need to take it apart and rebuild it for ourselves. And that’s where art such as this comes in. in a way it’s cathartic, taking an event that is treated with such reverence and injecting a little gentle humour into it, as if to say – see? it’s ok, it’s not as scary anymore.

I like it for those reasons. But more than that, I think it’s a really important step to take, and I applaud the Ryans for doing it.

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