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The Art of Social Conciousness? I believe not.

While I’ve kept this blog (News), for the most part, about art and personal issues related to my own learning, what may be coming up in the SEABA (South East Business Association) Art Hop prompts me to comment briefly on possible art which may be displayed in September, as well as about political talks and their sponsors. The image below tells much:


Abdullah Dourkawi’s winning entry in the Holocaust Cartoon contest at the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art

The above image is linked at the top of the cartoon page web site listing of “Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel” (8/8/08). This organization is a sponsor of both art and political talks at the Flynndog in September (why political talks are happening in the context of Art Hop is as questionable this year as last). The image implies that the separation barrier Israel has built to stop suicide bombers and terrorists from killing innocent men, women and children in Israel, is, for the Palestinians, the equivalent of the Nazi gas chambers in WW II.

This is NOT art of social consciousness, which can importantly raise social awareness and reveal injustice.  It is art which lies. It creates injustice and decreases real knowledge and understanding.  Like Peter Schumann’s art on “The Wall” last year, which equates the separation barrier in Israel with the Warsaw Ghetto, it is “soft-core Holocaust denial”, an attempt to trivialize or minimize the Holocaust, often with the aim of hurting or maligning the Jewish community.

The agenda of Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel, in supporting this work from Tehran, as well as Schumann’s work last year, is clear. Under the new State Department definition of anti-Semitism in the recent summary on Contemporary Global anti-Semitism, this is clearly an example: The use of Nazi symbols to characterize Israel and the Jews, often with the aim of hurting or maligning the Jewish community.

3 Responses to “The Art of Social Conciousness? I believe not.”

  1. Ian Thal Says:

    Dear Michael,

    I wrote a great deal about the controversy over last year’s Peter Schumann exhibit on my own blog, which had followed my own decision to dissociate myself from both Schumann and Bread and Puppet for precisely the reasons you cited.

    In fact, I discussed VTJP’s website in depth here.

    Most importantly, you are absolutely right, this is art that lies; a point I made here.

  2. Mike Says:

    Thanks for your comment. I have looked at what you have written, and you clearly have more in depth writing and clarity on this subject than I do in my very short post. I’ll direct anyone who writes to me, if any do, to your previous posts on the subject, and in fact may put links to these in further posts I may make.
    Sadly, VJP is hosting another fairly extensive program of art and political speakers at this year’s Art Hop in September. Peter has a new exhibit which I am told will be about “Walls” generally (Berlin Wall, Great Wall of China, Jerusalem Wall (his name for the security barrier I believe).


  3. Ian Thal Says:

    Peter was long one of my artistic influences from the time I spent performing with him, but I lost my respect for him as a human being over precisely this issue. His obsession with misrepresenting the Israeli-Palestinian conflict seems to have a lot to do with his childhood under the Reich and his refusal to deal with what did happen in Silesia where he was born and raised.

    Sadly he is avoiding the history that other German artists of his generation (Gunter Grass, Heiner Müller, for instance) chose to confront in their work. Someone who is promoting what is essentially right-wing revisionist history of World War II (which I also discuss here and here) shouldn’t be such an icon of the American peace movement.

    I’ll definitely be following the story as it develops. Thanks.

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