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I give up roundup

Post #850 • August 11, 2006, 4:14 PM • 22 Comments

Current events, which turned my BOS-FTL flight yesterday into a 14-hour ordeal that cost me my deodorant, seem to have knocked art stories out of my usual media sources. Here's three. Have a nice weekend.

Links deleted in quote: "Emily Jacir live in Lebanon. Or would be if I'd linked to this on July 28 when she wrote it. In a related story, Jacir and others are calling for a 'cultural boycott' of Israel (more here), that is the 'cancel[ing of] all exhibitions and other cultural events that are scheduled to occur in Israel.'" Tyler Green, one of his "Afternoon Tidbits," plugging a website called, for crying out loud, Because the non-virtual one was making so much progress. I'm not going to presume anything about Tyler's position on this, and I will spare you mine. I'll say instead that the idea of depriving a nation of culture for humanitarian reasons is perverse, and not to frame this in light of recent, similar anti-Semitic efforts to boycott Israeli scholars is irresponsible.

5000-year-old gold-platinum alloy dagger of Thracian origin found. (Reddit)

Feeling blue? So will your artwork.



Marc Country

August 11, 2006, 8:28 PM

"Links deleted in quote"? That's a new one...

I can't say I would see a proposed boycott of Israel as necessarily (or, for that matter, even probably) inspired by anti-semitism, but naturally I can only speak for myself.

Unless, of course, any opposition to Israeli government policty is to be called 'anti-semitism'... then we can just throw reasonable discussion out the window, I suppose.

Nor do I see such a non-violent 'cultural' response as particularly 'perverse'... certainly not in comparason with the real perversity of the state-directed mass murder occuring in Lebanon as we speak.

So, to try to bring this little rant of mine back to the topic of 'art', if I get a letter in the mail inviting me for a solo-show in Tel Aviv, I will decline, thank you very much. I know, I know... how perverse of me...



August 11, 2006, 11:20 PM

If you disagree with the actions of the Israeli government, and the people who run your hypothetical Tel Aviv gallery support them, you might reasonably not show at the gallery. But just because they're in Tel Aviv? What if they're pacifists? What if, like some of us here in the US, support our administration with tax dollars and little in the way of sympathy? Are they complicit in the government's actions? Here's another scenario: Someone has agreed to show your work, but you have to renounce your government's policies to do so. NATHFE is now requiring the equivalent of every academic in Israel. I don't support all of my government's policies but I'm not going to take some kind of anti-loyalty oath to promote my work. And if someone didn't want to show my work, or refuse to work with me as a culture professional, because I was American, I'd tell them to go to hell.


Marc Country

August 12, 2006, 12:56 AM

You're right, Franklin.
A response like mine just wouldn't be fair. To the gallery, or to me.
Either way, it's a small loss, in the big picture. Rather than have an exhibition that might benefit my career, I'd choose to make a small, mostly useless statement of non-association.
Oh well. Such is my right, I guess.

Then again, I think Bush et al. are a bunch of lunatics, and yet I show work in the states (and associate with the likes of you lot), I own stuff made in China, and eat meat, and approve of other naughty things, so as far as morality goes, I'm not claiming to be better than anyone else.

There you go.



August 12, 2006, 1:54 AM

you know franklin, if i didn't know better, i'd say your devil's advocate arguement in #2 sounds an awful lot like the cult of the open mind sort of approach. but then again i'm probably wrong aren't i?



August 12, 2006, 8:17 AM

Craigfrancis, what I've been calling the Cult of the Open Mind is a phenomenon in the art world in which all things are permissible except real criticism and adherence to standards. It's open-mindedness taken to an absurd conclusion for the sake of aesthetic laziness, and as an attack on aesthetic rigor. Don't get me wrong - what people call "open-mindedness" in a reasonable scenario is a good thing.

Scenario #2, which mind you is now reality for Israeli academics, is a sorry conflation of people and their governments. If anything, you might consider boycotting individuals for their opinions. But #2 is not open-mindedness: We don't like your government, so we're not going to work with you, regardless of your accomplishments in your field and your potential to better the world, unless you renounce it. People ought to be evaluated on the basis of what they do, not what their government does under their flag.

Marc, a perfectly moral life is impossible, and that fact that you have to take a shot at living one anyway results in all those troublesome inconsistencies. I think the final moral test is the practical one: is this action generating the best results for the most people? And the answer, which is "sort of," indicates what needs tweaking.



August 12, 2006, 8:33 AM

The "final moral test" is having a conscience and trying to work with it. You got to get yourself straight before you worry about what is best for everyone else, which is usually impossible to figure out anyway.



August 12, 2006, 9:04 AM

I think that's the first one, Opie.


Marc Country

August 12, 2006, 2:11 PM

People ought to be evaluated on the basis of what they do, not what their government does under their flag.

Yep, I agree. Sure, it's unfair that, say, Cuban citizens suffer from trade embargos implemented against their government, or Iraqi citizens suffered under sanctions on their goverment. I think that's crazy, to withhold necesities from a suffering people based on opposition to their governments. I think it's criminal that Lebanon's population, infrastructure, and environment is being systematically destroyed, and, of course, I'm not alone in this estimation, not by a long shot.
But, then again, I'm not talking about withhold necessities from Israel people. I'm suggesting that I wouldn't show my work there right now.
A year ago, maybe. A year from now, maybe. But now? No way. Am I being 'subjective'? You bet!
I think any attempt "to frame" a rather common response like mine, in the context of so-called "anti-Semitic efforts" is not only irresponsible, but grossly insulting, to both my morality and my intelligence.


redneck railroad

August 12, 2006, 2:30 PM

y'all needs to get a room together........



August 12, 2006, 3:54 PM

I question neither, Marc, but you may find yourself in sympathy with some questionable organizations if that's really how you would react. The teachers calling for that boycott on Israeli scholars issued their first call to do so in 2002, and the call was for total boycott regardless of the scholars' positions. As for the Intifada, it has resulted in thousands of deaths, exasperated the Israelis into putting Sharon and then Olmert into power, and exasperated the Palestinians into replacing Fatah with Hamas. Intifada proponents do not express a shred of contrition for or awareness of the consequences of pursuing violent means. If you want peace over there, those are not the people to get down with. I would argue for normalization, not boycotts, unless someone can talk me into the efficacy of the latter given that it seems to have never worked on any country.



August 12, 2006, 5:19 PM

It is not for me to control, but I continue to wish political issues, especially those prone to polarize people, were kept out of a blog like this one. Everyone is entitled to his or her position on such issues, same as with religion, but it may be best to keep that sort of thing private.

I have a particular aversion to being preached to, let alone harangued, on anything political. I tolerate it, barely, coming from politicians, because that's what they do for a living. When it comes from other sources, particularly so-called celebrities, it really pisses me off. I respond very badly to the slightest implication that I need somebody else to tell me how to see things or how to think and act. That's nobody's business but mine.


Marc Country

August 12, 2006, 8:28 PM

Yeah, Redneck, you're right as usual... this was really turning into a love-fest for a second there.

Franklin, I've got sympathies all over the place, even for people who do hateful, violent things because all they've known is a hateful, violent environment.

I'm not suggesting anyone else respond the way I do. I'm not calling for any kind of boycott. But I would decline the hypothetical show offer, most likely... although I admit, as you suggest, the pacifist gallery owners could certainly try to convince me, and being polite, I'd hear them out (gotta keep an open mind, dontcha know).
But, if I chose not to show, it would not be because of 'anti-semitism', and any suggestion that it was would invariably smack of disingenuousness, considering the real sources of actual anti-semitism that do exist.

Jack, I sympathise with your aversion to political discussion here (there I go with my sympathies again), but I can't buy that bit about listening to politicians on politics, but not anyone else... people are people are people. Many politicians did something else before they gained office (some of them were even celebrities!), they're often more concerned with how to stay elected rather than solving the real problems in the world, and when it comes to two-party state like the US, politicians' viewpoints only cover a fraction of even the mainstream political spectrum... come on, Jack, you've got to keep a more open mind!

Not that I wish to imply that you need someone else to tell you how to see things, of course...



August 12, 2006, 9:14 PM

How about not showing beause you might get a Hezbollah rocket up the wazoo.


August 12, 2006, 9:19 PM

man, you ARE a douche bag.



August 12, 2006, 9:21 PM

I said I tolerated attempts at political persuasion from politicians because they're going to do that no matter what; I didn't say I took what they say as necessarily valid or legitimate or trustworthy, as it is frequently none of those things. The point is I can and will make up my own mind, thank you. Any imposition or presumption from any quarter on what I regard as my prerogative will be seen and treated as such.



August 12, 2006, 9:44 PM

Jack and Marc: Politicians in the US are the way they are because that is the kind of people US citizens are willing to elect. In theory a "philosopher king" would be much wiser than dolts elected by the majority of ordinary citizens but I suspect they would actually be much worse. Power corrupts everyone who has it, as far as I can tell. And without an electorate to answer to, there would be less of a check on its effects.

What is amazing is that our countrys (both US and Canada) work as well as they do.


Marc Country

August 12, 2006, 10:41 PM

Oak, I always thought politicians are the way they are because it takes a certain kind of person to want political office... kinda like how people who become cops are the way they are because they like the idea of carrying a gun and making people obey rules.

Ok, I'm done on this topic... are we ever gonna discuss that Rocky Balboa statue, or what?

Oh, wait, one more thing... who exactly is WTF calling a douche bag?
I assume it's opie (sorry old-timer), but I must admit, it wasn't very clear, so maybe it was me...



August 12, 2006, 11:04 PM

I'm sure it was me, Marc. I tend to elicit such comments.


moustache anearer

August 13, 2006, 11:46 AM

Hey opie,

During a very very recent trip to the Portland Art Museum ( i perchanced to notice a painting of yours hanging in the new Jubitz Modern/Contemporary wing of the museum. Funny thing about it was not that it was there among the greats and the minors, but that on the info tag accompanying the painting, (untitled, 1964, oil on canvas, or was it acrylic?? --...your name which will go unrevealed to appease the artblog powers that be, your birth year and very surprisingly...a death year!!! 1941-2005 .....( i may have the birth year wrong..but, the 2005 was definitely there....I won't out you, but unless there's another painter with your name painting within the constraints and modes of modernism (and initials WDB...) then you may want to contact the folks at the Portland Art Museum to let then know that yes, you are still among the living....



August 13, 2006, 12:51 PM

Actually I did die last year, Moustache, but i am known for my stubborn persistence.

The info is all wrong. Obviously they didn't ask me for the right data because I was dead.

I will send them Twain's "Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated" and get them to fix it.

Many thanks for the report.


Marc Country

August 13, 2006, 2:24 PM

Whoa, opie... shhhh. Doesn't the death of an artist often precipitate a rise in auction prices?
Maybe you should ride this 'death' angle out a bit longer...

As for the birth date, don't these Portland guys have a copy of "Clement Greenberg: a Critic's Collection" that they could check with? All the artists' info is there in the back pages...



August 13, 2006, 3:01 PM

Yeah, once they find out they will probably take the painting down.

Of course they could have checked it out, a dozen diffferent way. They just didn't. It happens more often than you might suppose.



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