Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Destruction and Construction

I was actually going to make a big long post about the Guillermo Habacuc Vargas Scandal, but searching around, it really appears to be not a "hoax" exactly, but at least not as truly horrific as internet drama might suggest.

I'd rather believe it's not true, and there doesn't appear to be any solid evidence for any case, so I'm going to let it go.  There are very few things that I think should be off limits to Art, actually.

This did sort of remind me of the conflict I grew to feel over Mapplethorpe, Andre Serrano, Karen Finley, et al, in the late-1980s.  On the one hand, I do respect them implicitly for their work (and I think Serrano's "Piss Christ" was pretty badly misinterpreted).  It did just what good art should do, it pushed boundaries, broke down conventions, asked difficult questions.  

On the other hand, I've grown to believe their work was considerably irresponsible to the Art World in America, in general.  They and the other shock artists might somewhat fairly be blamed for the lack of government funding of the arts in this country.  They knew exactly who their work would offend; that was the whole point of it.  For the very reason that the U.S. is based on Capitalism run amok, it's desperately important that artists be supported in some way other than by the popular market.  The art market has a far different criteria on which to base "value," and it isn't always artistic, creative integrity or innovative ways of thinking.  In fact, I think it could be argued that it seldom is.  It isn't any better for Art than Communism or Fascism was.

I find it interesting when it's pointed out to me where I believe the limits of Art to be.  Regardless of what Vargas intended or what he in fact did do, it still is Art (way too many people have way too many cockamamie ideas of what is or isn't Art), but there are nonetheless some places where art just should not go.  Ironically, I have said--and have no qualms about saying--that some structures are and some aren't Architecture.  But I believe that to be a completely different story, since it's an applied art form.

Since I'm not going to get into animal abuse for the sake of Art, I thought I'd show you some of these amazing photos I found of Philip Johnson's New York State Theater under construction (click them):

One of Wallace Harrison's early drawings for the new Metropolitan Opera House:

You may be interested to know that some of his even earlier drawings were extremely sculptural, and looked suspiciously similar to Jorn Utzon's opera house for Sydney.  

Here's the Met under construction looking from the east:

And of the auditorium from the location of the stage:

Here's the lighting control room, which the lighting team said looked like Cape Canaveral:

Kind of does, too.

New York State Theater, Philip Johnson (1964)
Metropolitan Opera House, Wallace Harrison (1966)

(text) ©2008, Ryan Witte

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