Join 3,415 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Hanging judged
April 27, 2012 5:42 PM   Subscribe

"Nooses spotted at Cal State San Bernardino" An art project garners attention and sparks debate, as reported in the San Bernardino Sun today:
A trio of nooses spotted Friday at Cal State San Bernardino drew some attention on the serene campus, and it wasn't all positive.

The display reportedly disturbed and offended viewers, as there was no explanation for the nooses, nor the accompanying flag and cross images.
Three nooses were strung outside an entrance to the Visual Arts Building as part of a student display for a class, said university spokesman Joe Gutierrez.

Gutierrez said he spoke with the chairwoman of the Visual Arts Department, listed on the department's website as Sant Khalsa, who explained that the display was a student artist's take on violence.
California State University, San Bernardino website.
posted by Celsius1414 (37 comments total)

 
So, are there examples of positive reactions?
posted by Brocktoon at 5:47 PM on April 27, 2012


Two personal editorial points left out of the above: posted by Celsius1414 at 5:48 PM on April 27, 2012


What a terrible lead. It is right up there with James Thurber's Ohio State classmate's "“Who has noticed the sores on the tops of the horses in the animal husbandry building?” for Olympic-level point-missing.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:57 PM on April 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


Oh man... it's fascinating how the media (even student media) can shape opinion right off the bat. At UCSD, a noose in the library sent people into hysterics and got students to gather together and--basically--take over the chancellors' complex.

Even though there may not have been an "intent to terrorize" at CSUSB, I still think that fair warning or notice should have been given to passers-by. Something as simple as "art project ahead"... because, in any case, the noose is a very loaded sociopolitical statement and may worry people. Is it finals week at CSUSB? Could be a commentary on that too, heh.
posted by raihan_ at 6:06 PM on April 27, 2012


Bravo, Sidhedevil. A reminder to all of us to incorporate more My Life and Hard Times references into our daily lives. Come to think of it, I was just noticing today how there's a strip of light under the front doors in my apartment building which suggests that a burgler could pipe in chloroform if so inclined.
posted by sy at 6:11 PM on April 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


No noose is good noose.
posted by jonmc at 6:11 PM on April 27, 2012 [13 favorites]


This reminds me of an long-running pranking war between me and a friend. It started with her secretly placing an old, deteriorating doll (of which I had mentioned I was creeped out by) in the back seat of my car. This was so that, as I drove home that night from watching a horror movie with her and her family, it would be visible, staring right at me, when I checked my rear-view mirror. I should mention that neither of us do very well with horror, and she knew that just driving home in the dark was a bit of a trial.

I was absolutely horrified, of course. However, she was also discomfited by this doll, and it was now in my possession. It went back to her in a creepy way, then back to me in a redoubledly creepy way, before I ended it with a prank she claimed she could not, or was scared to, top.

I let the prank slide for some months, until she and her family left on a vacation. As a close family friend, I was given the key to the house and the responsibility the feed the animals and whatnot. I did that, but I also set up a grisly scene in their bathroom, starring the doll, for them to find on their return.

I researched and then mixed up a batch of fake blood. I also researched how to properly tie a noose. I tied the doll, hanging in a perfect noose, head snapped unnaturally to one side, but broken eyes still wide open, to the light fixture. I left an upended chair beneath. I filled the sink with water dyed red with the fake blood. I left a razor blade, dripping blood, beside the sink. I dribbled blood from the sink, to the chair, to the weathered wrists on the doll. Then I wrote "I'M STILL WATCHING" in wobbly letters on the mirror, in blood. Then I turned out the light and closed the door.

The doll was retired, and neither of us pranked the other again. And that's my only experience with a noose.
posted by gilrain at 6:29 PM on April 27, 2012 [16 favorites]


So one guy was offended by a fairly obvious art project (at least from the photos) involving three nooses?

Slow news day.
posted by demiurge at 6:34 PM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Cal State San Bernardino is the dumbest of the Cal States, and that's really saying something.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 6:47 PM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


demiurge: "So one guy was offended by a fairly obvious art project (at least from the photos) involving three nooses?"

What those nooses mean has absolutely no place in our society, even in a clumsy art project.

Strange Fruit
Southern trees bear a strange fruit
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root
Black bodies swingin' in the southern breeze
Strange fruit hangin' from the poplar trees...

(This site contains photographs and postcards taken and sold as souvenirs at lynchings throughout America. They are graphic and extremely disturbing)
posted by Blasdelb at 6:54 PM on April 27, 2012 [6 favorites]


Welcome to San Bernardino.
posted by Arthur Phillips Jones Jr at 6:56 PM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Slow news day.

You, sir, have an iron will to walk by that pun.

I believe you meant:

slow noose day


YYYEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
posted by GuyZero at 7:06 PM on April 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


I can't recollect a single time in my life where I've thought "I'm offended by that. That should be destroyed so that I may be protected from being offended."

Well, besides Bieber.
posted by toekneebullard at 7:13 PM on April 27, 2012 [7 favorites]


Hopefully those nooses will be replaced by some nice Kinkade prints.


...dangling in nooses
posted by b1tr0t at 7:41 PM on April 27, 2012


This isn't about being offended, it's about being threatened. A reasonable person could interpret a hung noose as a racist's declaration of intent to perform acts of violence.

I once acted in a modern dress version of Henry V, set in the Vietnam era. One day a cast member, in costume, wandered off across campus to pick up some props. A random bystander saw a man dressed in camouflage and carrying an assault rife and quite reasonably called the police. We were lucky our show didn't get shut down. Campus police would have been within their rights to shut us down, because artists don't have the right to make people fear actual acts of violence, not even unintentionally.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 7:46 PM on April 27, 2012 [9 favorites]


I would not have liked to have seen nooses displayed in a public area. It is very hard to separate nooses from our country's history of lynching. MANY people experience nooses as a threat. If there is an art piece with nooses, then I think there should definitely be signage and publicity giving people warnings and an opportunity to avoid.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 7:52 PM on April 27, 2012


What those nooses mean

Nooses are not solely associated with lynching. People can be offended by this if they're offended by it, but it's not like every noose HAS to make people think of lynching.
posted by 23skidoo at 8:02 PM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


People can be offended by this if they're offended by it, but it's not like every noose HAS to make people think of lynching.
This would be a good opportunity to discuss the unintended consequences and interpretations of a piece of art and when they are justified.

I think it is important and healthy to be able to make potentially offensive statements, and also to be offended by such statements. But one should use a lot of care when making such statements.
posted by b1tr0t at 8:14 PM on April 27, 2012


I would argue that nooses, in America, have a specific racial semantic weight, when hung from trees.

This installation wasn't a tree. I suppose one could infer the clan because of the white cloth, red cross thing; but I don't know how likely it is that people outside of the deep South would make that connection the way I did.

All in all, it strikes me a typical undergrad art project, in that it is meant to be provocative without actually being indicative of anything deeper than surface symbology. I give it a "meh" for effort.
posted by dejah420 at 8:33 PM on April 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


23skidoo: "Nooses are not solely associated with lynching. People can be offended by this if they're offended by it, but it's not like every noose HAS to make people think of lynching."

Nooses are somewhat associated with executions more than a century ago, but not in a context where they would ever be left out to swing in the breeze outside. They are also associated with suicide; but not outside, not unattended, and that would also make an extremely questionable art project anyhow.

On the other hand nooses left hanging in public places in this country has for the last hundred and fifty years meant nothing other than a chilling warning of lynchings to come. I encourage you to look through those postcards and make sure that you don't miss all of the smiling white faces. Lynchings happened, and continued well into the 1960s, because they were allowed to, because entire communities of people either participated or did nothing, even in San Bernardino county.

This is within living memory for fucks sake, I've known a guy, a stately old freedom rider, who was at one point in serious danger of being lynched.

Just because you have the privilege to easily ignore your history doesn't mean that your neighbors do.
posted by Blasdelb at 8:47 PM on April 27, 2012 [21 favorites]


t's not like every noose HAS to make people think of lynching

If you leave your communication open to multiple, valid interpretations, don't be surprised when people interpret it in one of those ways.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:58 PM on April 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


If you leave your communication open to multiple, valid interpretations, don't be surprised when people interpret it in one of those ways.
This. (which is why my opinion is that it should be allowed but discouraged)
posted by b1tr0t at 9:03 PM on April 27, 2012


Suppose you happened across a battered car parked outside the art building. The windows have been smashed in, and graffiti has been crudely spray painted across the side. "How do you like your car now, (slur)?" "Go home! No (slurs) on our campus!"

Now imagine that all your life you've heard people calling you that slur. Would you feel safe going out after dark?

A noose is worse than that -- it's an explicit death threat.

The artist's free speech should be protected. She can indeed use a noose in an art project, but if she's going to do that she really ought to post signs to the effect of "by the way, this is an art project, not the work of a deranged, lawless bigot." She should not have left open the valid interpretation that the noose was a death threat.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 9:13 PM on April 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


The artist's free speech should be protected.
I find this phrasing problematic. The student was allowed to display their project. I don't see any evidence of government suppressing this student's right to free speech. Though I stand by my position that offensive art should be allowed but discouraged, I don't believe that the art itself should be protected once put on display.

A significant improvement to the pice would be to coordinate the disassembly of the piece with the local Black Student Union. That would turn the piece into a much more interesting work of performance art.
posted by b1tr0t at 10:23 PM on April 27, 2012


Really, Art should be in a frame, so we know it's Art, and supposed to be appreciated.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:29 PM on April 27, 2012


This happened while I was in college at Miami University. The case I know of though showed up overnight without warning. It was also declared an art project of some form and it did cause a big furor on the campus for a while.

http://www.ohio.com/news/miami-university-removes-student-noose-art-display-1.80302
posted by graxe at 12:43 AM on April 28, 2012


Just because you have the privilege to easily ignore your history doesn't mean that your neighbors do.

What a rude thing to say. All I said was that lynchings are not the only thing associated with nooses. Where you get that I'm ignoring my history because of my privilege is beyond me. I'm not denying that lynchings happened, at all.

If you leave your communication open to multiple, valid interpretations, don't be surprised when people interpret it in one of those ways.

I agree. I'm not at all surprised that some people thought of lynchings when they saw the nooses. Similarly, people should not be surprised that others did NOT think of lynchings when they saw the nooses.
posted by 23skidoo at 1:38 AM on April 28, 2012


Free speech is not a trump card that overrides all other considerations, nor an excuse to avoid the consequences of your actions. If you put up a deliberately provocative art project that ties into the historical and ongoing persecution of a particular group of people, don't whine that they will respond badly to it, dislike it and want it gone.

You have the right to free speech, not the right to escape the consequences of your free speech. More artists should realise that before they release their own shitty, lazy, pointless projects whose only intent is to shock, not by what it is, but by the history it abuses.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:18 AM on April 28, 2012 [4 favorites]


If we're happy that having age ratings on films or a watershed on television for material that's potentially offensive doesn't compromise free speech, wouldn't it make sense for this kind of thing to be required to be placed in spaces that are explicitly art galleries, rather than just sort of near the art building?
posted by Dysk at 3:32 AM on April 28, 2012


The rebel yell recording, nooses hangings.... the South is rearing it's ugly head all over metafilter today.
posted by Fizz at 7:08 AM on April 28, 2012


The rebel yell recording, nooses hangings.... the South is rearing it's ugly head all over metafilter today.
posted by Fizz at 7:08 AM on April 28 [+] [!]



Nooses aren't exclusive to the history of the American south.
posted by 200burritos at 7:42 AM on April 28, 2012


200burritos: " Nooses aren't exclusive to the history of the American south."

No, but nooses left hanging in places for people to find them are.
posted by Blasdelb at 8:10 AM on April 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


garnering attention and sparking debate (not to mention disturbing and offending) are what art's for.


Or not. This is stunt art, ie art for attention's sake.
posted by Ideefixe at 8:14 AM on April 28, 2012


To be clear, this part of our past is still very much in the present. There are undoubtedly people who are alive today who, as children, picked over the corpses of lynching victims for teeth or bits of flesh or clothing as souvenirs of their white supremacy as their communities looked on in approval. The parents of those slain can be reasonably expected to be gone by now, but many of their brothers, sisters, cousins, children and friends are still among us. We are even still continuing to jail people for lynchings we know they orchestrated once and there are bridges still standing and used daily that were used as impromptu gallows.

The fear that a noose left out for people to discover inspires is still very much not an anachronism to modern America.
posted by Blasdelb at 10:59 AM on April 28, 2012 [5 favorites]


No, but nooses left hanging in places for people to find them are.

The first photo in the gallery Blasdelb linked is in Yreka, California.

This is not just a southern thing.
posted by spitefulcrow at 12:03 PM on April 28, 2012


spitefulcrow: "The first photo in the gallery Blasdelb linked is in Yreka, California.

This is not just a southern thing.
"

Click on Lynchings and Riots here for an interactive map
posted by Blasdelb at 12:49 PM on April 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Cal State San Bernardino is the dumbest of the Cal States, and that's really saying something.

[citation needed]
posted by Big_B at 8:43 AM on April 30, 2012


« Older Carl Wilson - "God Only Knows" (intimate setting) ...  |  If you were watching the Oriol... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments