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How far can provocation in art go, before it becomes cynical and abusive? Scandalous: A Reader on Art and Ethics

Recent encounters between art and real life, the ubiquity of images of violence and humiliation in visual culture and the media, and the persistence of controversial debates on public and participatory art projects are raising fundamental questions about the importance of ethical decisions in art and curating. How far can provocation in art go, before it becomes cynical and abusive? Does “good censorship” exist? Are ethical decisions seen as more urgent in participatory art?

This reader introduces current notions of ethics in several contexts related to the cultural field. Responding to the instrumentalization of ethics as a privileged tool of neoliberalism, the reader claims the need for an ethics that critically reflects the mechanisms of contemporary global power structures. The contributions discuss models of subjective and situational ethics and pit them against a canon of unquestioned principles and upturned notions of ethics and human rights.

Texts by Petra Bauer and Annette Krauss, Franco Bifo Berardi, Galit Eilat, Ronald Jones, Maria Karlsson and Måns Wrange, Nina Möntmann, Peter Osborne, Marcus Steinweg, Nato Thompson; conversations between Simon Critchley and Miguel Á. Hernández-Navarro, Renzo Martens and T. J. Demos

Scandalous: A Reader on Art and Ethics
Nina Möntmann

Text and Image via Sternberg Press

Social/Politics

Curses! The birth of the bleep and modern American censorship

The Enlightenment sages who wrote the First Amendment into the US Constitution in 1791 created the most secure legal foundation for a real democracy in history thus far. By refusing to grant government the power to shut anyone up, no matter how obnoxious, the authors of the Bill of Rights ensured that even if the worst, most corrupt idiots managed to grab power they wouldn’t be able to silence their political enemies (in stark contrast to “the divine right” of kings, who dealt with the opposition by throwing it into a dungeon.) It’s just 45 words: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

What the First Amendment really grants is the power of society to maintain its own standards over those of government. Over centuries, sometimes despite the most furious opposition, individuals have increased their participation and added the force of their lives, their words, and their ideas to the culture. And so the principle of free speech is growing, slowly and unsteadily, into the truth of its logic: each person, each member of the press, each citizen can believe, think, and speak independently and without fear of oppression. The same is true of Amendments Two through Ten: the Bill of Rights is a political structure built to safeguard a democratic state, but its implications in the personal lives of that state’s citizens are immediate and profound.

Text and Image via The Verge. Continue HERE

Art/Aesthetics · Digital Media · Performativity · Photographics

Googlegeist

Googlegeist is a project by Chadwick Gibson exploring censorship, authenticity, museum policy, perception, digital art, and Google image data.

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Ukrainian Body: Exhibition Forbidden

On February 10th, 2012, the President of the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy Serhiy Kvit banned “The Ukrainian Body”, an exhibition that explores the issues of corporality in contemporary Ukrainian society. The entrance to the gallery is now locked. Serhiy Kvit explained his decision in the following way: “It’s not an exhibition, it’s shit”.

After the act of censorship concerning the exhibition «Ukrainian Body», which drew a wide response in the Ukrainian and foreign media, the President of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy Serhiy Kvit has initiated a number of bureaucratic restrictions against the VCRC as the organizers of the exhibition. On February 23rd the Academic Council’s decision stopped the activities of VCRC. The governing body of NaUKMA were exasperated by the public attention and the condemnation of censorship at the ‘most democratic’ university. As a result of the administration’s sanctions, the work of Visual Culture Research Center is no longer possible.

Open letter to The Visual Culture Research Centre by the Academic Council of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, Ukraine (5 April 2012)