Friday, April 1, 2016

Sadism, Sexism, Racism, and Abstractionism

There's a mixed element of sadism/masochism in abstract art that made it fun to take art classes with African students. The heavyset European lesbian graduate students doing the teaching could and did instantly belittle anyone who questioned their conclusions that, say, gluing used pregnancy tests to a corkboard was a powerfully intellectual and artistic act--anyone, that is, except the black kids who, when forced to take off their headphones, could curtly say, "The hell is that shit?" without recrimination. Of course the white lesbians were terrified of criticizing an Afro, and so were the curators at museums. A Euro student who said, of a Rothko, "I don't really think that's art, it's just sort of, uhh, smudgy wallpaper," would get pulled aside, disciplined, and made to write essays. An Afro who didn't show up to the museum at all, or who walked around loudly quoting pimp-related rap lyrics--or who considered the painting and said, "A monkey could do that shit"--would receive an A.

The white lesbians couldn't bring themselves to scold the black students, even for being straight, but they could encourage them to justify their high grades by nodding their heads in agreement when the lesbians explained that simple smears of color could possibly be a reaction to oppression, couldn't they, can't you see it, the way it explains whatever problems you might have with your life, now can't you, Tyrone, can't you see how it means nothing is your fault and people owe you stuff? With the usual degree of irony, the Afro men had to listen dutifully while the Euro females explained what oppression was and how to express/recognize it, and after having confessed their sins, the Euros would feel better about themselves...and on to the next exhibit room they'd walk, while the black kids went to the lobby to sit on benches and listen to more rap. Once the Euro women had publicly shamed themselves by having the viewpoints they'd lectured upon for hours mocked and belittled in front of a group over which they held authority, they resumed the sadistic role of punishing other Euros who weren't murmuring over exhibits with sufficient reverence. It was like a test run for Black Lives Matter.

6 comments:

  1. Hilarious. "The hell is that shit?" captures the whole scene perfectly.

    This sounds like a class you've actually taken. How recently?

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    1. Hey, being privy to certain exchanges doesn't necessarily mean I took the class. ;) But post-2000, surely.

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    2. Post-2000 for sure, but not too much later than that, and that's how i know: High Arka is in her mid- to late thirties. Quiet and slightly disgruntled looking in public (e.g. in museums, parties). Works great for her, because the peasants usually just don't notice and annoy her.

      She would be totally unimpressed by me and anyone who looks and sounds like me, but on occasion she would go out for drinks and make out with me, out of pity and/or and exasperation. I'm sure of that, (all of it)! ;)

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  2. OK, go ahead, play coy. But I have to warn you, my attitude towards coyness is best expressed thusly: "The hell is that shit?"

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    1. =] Many classes between 2000 and 2016, the vast majority of which I was not enrolled in.

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  3. You hang out in museums in your spare time? That's very highbrow of you (I'm not being snarky here, I mean it). Makes me embarrassed about what I do with my free time.

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