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Vandals destroy controversial Serrano photographs
October 10, 2007 8:53 AM   Subscribe

On Friday, October 5th, a group of self proclaimed "National Socialists" burst into the Kulturen Gallery in Sweden and destroyed nearly half of Andres Serrano's exhibit "The History of Sex". They videotaped themselves in the act (alternate youtube link, with stunning comments), set it to a heavy metal soundtrack and released it on the internet. (WARNING: Assume all links are NSFW).

Serrano became notorious in 1989 when his "Piss Christ", a photograph of a crucifix submerged in urine, drew the ire of conservatives because it was supported by taxpayer funds through the National Endowment for the Arts. Since then, Serrano has been a lighting rod for both free-speech advocates and advocates of abolishing government-sponsored grants for the arts and humanities.

Unlike drunken revelers who slashed a Monet in Paris two days later, these nazis filmed their rampage, editing the footage with text commentary and setting it to music. In doing so, did the vandals themselves create a work of art? Can the destruction of art every be justified on artistic grounds? Can propaganda be art?
posted by Pastabagel (65 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Unlike drunken revelers who slashed a Monet in Paris two days later, these nazis filmed their rampage, editing the footage with text commentary and setting it to music. In doing so, did the vandals themselves create a work of art? Can the destruction of art every be justified on artistic grounds? Can propaganda be art?

If nihilistic insanity is a work of art, then the answer is clearly yes.
posted by blucevalo at 9:08 AM on October 10, 2007


How about, if you don't like it, don't go see it. What a bunch of assholes. Also they are photos, it's not like he can't remake them in a day or two. He should just have the back up the next day, like nothing happened.
posted by Mr_Zero at 9:09 AM on October 10, 2007


Can the destruction of art every be justified on artistic grounds? Can propaganda be art?

Indeed, almost anything can fall under the umbrella of art--even this pithy, hateful vandalism--though most of us who have objections to an artist's work prefer to voice our concerns in an intelligent way using an appropriate forum. Sometimes we even respond with artwork of our own.

This, however, is disgusting, and watching thoughtful artwork destroyed in this manner makes me feel physically sick to my stomach. I fail to see how this obscene act of destruction does anything to counterbalance the purported obscenity in the photos, or to further the discussion at all.

There is also a really horrific element of violent homophobia to all of this that is incredibly unsettling.
posted by dead_ at 9:09 AM on October 10, 2007


And post a heavy metal video of him hanging the replacements up.
posted by Mr_Zero at 9:10 AM on October 10, 2007 [8 favorites]


Can propaganda be art?

Wasn't that the whole point of Dadaism, to decry the senseless carnage of World War I? Come to think of it, if you accept a definition of propaganda as: ideas, facts, or allegations spread deliberately to further one's cause or to damage an opposing cause, isn't all art propaganda?
posted by psmealey at 9:10 AM on October 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


There is also a really horrific element of violent homophobia to all of this that is incredibly unsettling.

I was thinking the same thing. It would be interesting to see a list of pictures they damaged and which ones they left alone.
posted by Mr_Zero at 9:12 AM on October 10, 2007


Reminds me of that Man Ray piece that got shot by angry, outraged idiots back in the day for being "degenerate art". I saw it in the MOMA not too long ago, complete with bullet holes.

It's a shame, Serrano's work is not always easy to look at, but it's at least intelligent and well-executed.
posted by bradbane at 9:13 AM on October 10, 2007


It's difficult to take these clowns seriously when their captions are riddled with grocers' apostrophes.
posted by exogenous at 9:15 AM on October 10, 2007


I've said it before and I'll say it again: the Swedes simply cannot be trusted.

On a more serious note these sorts of sensationalist culture crimes really cannot and should not be taken seriously. These guys aren't artists in any way, shape or form. They are low-budget marketers and terrible taste in music. The intention here isn't even to make a statement because they understand nobody (except idiots) could possibly be persuaded by such a statement. Rather what you have is somebody shouting and throwing food at the dinner table; the goal is a kind of 'displacement' where the purpose is to get the victims to stop thinking. If these guys had been Muslim extremists everybody would be up in arms and view this as some sort of extreme political statement but, in fact, it'd be no different: the product of stupid assholes. Like children who throw fits the appropriate response is never to of reward them by taking them seriously and asking stupid questions like 'Can propaganda be art?', instead one ought to smear them with honey, hang them from the back porch and use them as bear bait.
posted by nixerman at 9:15 AM on October 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


hey, you know who else was a performance artist?

that's right ...
posted by pyramid termite at 9:18 AM on October 10, 2007


It's difficult to take these clowns seriously when their captions are riddled with grocers' apostrophes.

Yeah, and there's also that whole Nazi thing.
posted by dead_ at 9:18 AM on October 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


Wasn't that the whole point of Dadaism, to decry the senseless carnage of World War I? Come to think of it, if you accept a definition of propaganda as: ideas, facts, or allegations spread deliberately to further one's cause or to damage an opposing cause, isn't all art propaganda?

I think this is the key difference. Propaganda is a subset of a art. Propaganda without intent would just be expression, thus art.

Disclaimer: IANAAHM
posted by butterstick at 9:25 AM on October 10, 2007


Grammar Nazis > Regular Nazis
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:25 AM on October 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


Destruction of photographs is, by definition, a more futile exercise (and therefore somewhat less odious) than the destruction of a sculpture or original painting (for example). While in this case I don't approve of either the art or the vandal's actions, I can say that both sides are making a "statement" and the vandals have given the artist more publicity than they could ever have generated on their own.
posted by spock at 9:28 AM on October 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


What they have really done is make the photographs more important. I saw this show when it was in New York. Its was not for everyone, but it was a good show. Yes, they are multiples, they can be reprinted & I'm sure they will be. When they are reinstalled many many more people will go see them than before.
posted by R. Mutt at 9:39 AM on October 10, 2007


Destruction of photographs is, by definition, a more futile exercise (and therefore somewhat less odious) than the destruction of a sculpture or original painting...

That's not necessarily true; large format prints made for exhibition can often be unique; there is an art to enlarging and printing negatives. A close reproduction can be made, but not an exact duplicate.
posted by TedW at 9:39 AM on October 10, 2007


Can propaganda be art?

Only if the boobies are perky, tastefully rendered and integral to the work.

Vandalism can be art. Graffiti is often considered vandalism, and a lot of it is daring and wonderful to behold. Propaganda can be art: monumental art, murals, etc. In this case, though... count me as one who'll call paintings by cats art before designating the acts depicted in the youtube link as such.

Interesting post, Pastabagel, especially the book review (ILL request made). Thanks.
posted by cog_nate at 9:43 AM on October 10, 2007


Surely Serrano can now sell the destroyed art at a higher price...keeping the destruction intact ala Duchamp's The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass) . Doesn't the result of the destruction heighten the message of the artwork?
posted by Mr. Ugh at 9:43 AM on October 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


Those were some pretty graphic images! I think the nihilists should take hammers to their computers next and rid the world of the perversions of the internet.
posted by billysumday at 9:43 AM on October 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm no artsy-fartsy dude and the photos didn't really provoke much of a response from me, but I would think that keeping the exhibit open, integrating the vandalism into the work and thereby co-opting the National Socialists' views and response would make for a far stronger statement than what the artist originally intended.

Hell, I'm jaded enough that I wouldn't bat an eye if it turned out he masterminded or had a hand in the vandalism.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:46 AM on October 10, 2007


Of course, the damaged photographs are now unique works of art. They exist. They could not be destroyed by nazis. I have a feeling you will see a museum exhibit of the now damaged pieces... and it will be one hell of a powerful show.
posted by R. Mutt at 9:47 AM on October 10, 2007


On non-preview, what r. mutt and Mr. Ugh said.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:48 AM on October 10, 2007


They got it wrong, great artists don't destroy, great artists steal !
posted by elpapacito at 9:48 AM on October 10, 2007 [2 favorites]


Of course, the damaged photographs are now unique works of art. They exist. They could not be destroyed by nazis. I have a feeling you will see a museum exhibit of the now damaged pieces... and it will be one hell of a powerful show.
posted by R. Mutt at 12:47 PM on October 10


Who is the artist of these new works? Surely not Serrano.

Like children who throw fits the appropriate response is never to of reward them by taking them seriously and asking stupid questions like 'Can propaganda be art?', instead one ought to smear them with honey, hang them from the back porch and use them as bear bait.

You realize that when Piss Christ was exhibited in 1989, the response to that work is the same as your response to this act of vandalism - that the artist just did it to shock and offend people and get attention for himself, not to spur debate, it isn't real art etc.

In other words, if a photo of bestiality (one of the destroyed photos) is art, even though most people would consider it offensive, why isn't destroying it equally art?
posted by Pastabagel at 10:05 AM on October 10, 2007 [3 favorites]


if you accept a definition of propaganda as: ideas, facts, or allegations spread deliberately to further one's cause or to damage an opposing cause, isn't all art propaganda?

No, but it could mean that all propaganda could be considered art. Not all (nor even most) art is intended deliberately to advance any cause. In James Joyce's view, in fact, art that does so is of a lesser sort:
Joyce defines Improper Art as kinetic and breaks it down into two categories: the pornographic and the didactic. Pornographic art is any expression that inspires desire in the observer to possess the object. All advertising art is pornographic in this sense and therefore improper.

The second category of Improper Art, in Joyce's aesthetic, is the Didactic. Didactic Art is any artistic expression which instills fear or loathing in the observer and thereby pushes them away from the object being observed.
So, yeah, you could consider the video of the destruction of these photographs as art, but at best it's really, really bad art. Also, ditto.
posted by LooseFilter at 10:11 AM on October 10, 2007


That's a pretty lazy depiction of bestiality, IMO.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:15 AM on October 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


In other words, if a photo of bestiality (one of the destroyed photos) is art, even though most people would consider it offensive, why isn't destroying it equally art?

Well, presumably behind the photo of bestiality was a serious effort to engage others while the true motive of the vandal/propagandist/markerter is to divide/isolate and shock/scare their victims and thereby prevent any meaningful engagement. But even if you're not willing to accept such a strict division and definition one can still talk about what constitutes good art. Coincidentally, this is much more interesting, rewarding and useful than inane 'what is' questions. And on this level the 'art' of the Nazis is to be considered so awful and ridiculous that most people would consider it mocking art, that is non-art.
posted by nixerman at 10:17 AM on October 10, 2007


Also, many--all?--of the photos in this exhibit would be considered improper by Joyce's definition. I'm not convinced that those photos, like the Piss Christ, are particularly good art, but that's beside the point. Destroying such art is by definition a lesser act, as it's derived from and dependent upon another artist's work. If this destruction is in fact art, it's lazy, uninspired art.

On preview: Coincidentally, this is much more interesting, rewarding and useful than inane 'what is' questions.

Yes, I agree.
posted by LooseFilter at 10:20 AM on October 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


Who is the artist of these new works? Surely not Serrano.

Surely it is Serrano, unless he decides otherwise. Though an artist can and will lose control of the social interpretation (which changes over time anyway) of his work, he maintains authorship at will.
posted by R. Mutt at 10:26 AM on October 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


These guys are really giving National Socialists a bad name.
posted by Adam_S at 10:27 AM on October 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure it is bad art at all. It puts some people in the very uncomfortable position of sympathizing with self-proclaimed "national socialists" about what is appropriate art, if indeed they were "nazis." Serrano is a little dull -- shocking the (conservative) middles only goes so far.
posted by Raoul de Noget at 10:27 AM on October 10, 2007


Serrano? He's somehow still relevant? Who gave him a show? I guess those NYC Art careers are evergreen.

Serrano is a huckster who helped poison the contemporary art market, while at the same time enabling the religious and political wing-nuts of the past 20 years, justifying the evaporation of NEA grants and the general prevailing American distrust of artists everywhere. Serrano was one of those neo-Warhol readymade artists (Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons and Serrano) who jobbed their 'work' out to professional photo-duplication services and exhibited the product as his own.

Back when I was an undergrad, he visited my school and gave a talk. There was something both scandalous and revelatory about his visit, but I can't, for the life of me remember the details.

I'm as liberal as the next child of the late '60's, but I can't help but think that the market exuberance (and bad taste) of the '80's has really set us back as a culture. If we'd stuck with morally-upright subject matter in the 80's, rather than that pseudo-PC crap, we wouldn't still be living through the ongoing culture war that's brought us the Bush 43 administration, so-called 'Red' States and all the other crap.

That said, I can't endorse the Godwin-like behavior of the Swedes who fire-bombed his exhibit, either. It'll just make him a civil rights martyr, again.

"Yeah, and there's also that whole Nazi thing."

'National Socialist' Swedes? They Godwined themselves – somehow, I thought public education in Sweden was better than it is here...
posted by vhsiv at 10:33 AM on October 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


why isn't destroying it equally art?

Intent. Otherwise, you open a whole can of worms where any illegal act that is filmed and set to music becomes "art".
posted by squeak at 10:51 AM on October 10, 2007


"Four national socialists decided to express the opinion of normal people"

I bet that's the first time that those words have ever been strung together.
posted by quin at 10:57 AM on October 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


You go vhsiv. Heard the man talk myself. Lame.
After Piss Christ he dressed the homeless in used clothes he bought, then "documented" them. He talked about hiring a prostitute in Italy to blow a man in an alley. He finished photographing, told the prostitute she could continue or stop and was amazed that she stopped. Great insight into the human condition.

It might have cost him to hire the thugs but he will clean up with the repackaging.
posted by pointilist at 10:59 AM on October 10, 2007




I got some art for ya!

*leans over*

*arts*
posted by Totally Zanzibarin' Ya at 11:12 AM on October 10, 2007 [2 favorites]


Pastabagel-
1. "In other words, if a photo of bestiality (one of the destroyed photos) is art, even though most people would consider it offensive, why isn't destroying it equally art?"

2. "Inothe r wor ds, if a 2ho000to of be stiality (one2 of the des222troye d photos) is arteen t hou h222 most pe0ople would consi 222der it offe n sive, w2hy isn't destr o yin t equally a000 00rt?"

Which is to say, if your sentence is valid, and I find it offensive, then then why isn't destroying it equally valid?

Because it isn't. Because it lacks the cohesion and intention of the original. And I think that intention is one of the major clues to the "Is it Art?" question. The Gamboni book looks very interesting, and I'll probably get a copy soon. But I agree with squeak, and I think that it is inappropriate to apply ad-hoc art status to an act of vandalism, when that clearly wasn't the intention. I'm not even sure that the "artists" took the time to consider the changes that would occur in the composition; taking into consideration the new negative space that would be revealed when they hammered on the cock parts.

I have a very inclusive view of what constitutes art, so yes, I think that vandalism can potentially be art, but in the same way that "Hulk Smash!" can be poetry. Personally, I find it way more interesting when art is vandalism. And I prefer my vandals to be a bit more classy.

Also, thank you for posting this.
posted by Benjamin Nushmutt at 11:14 AM on October 10, 2007


the Godwin-like behavior of the Swedes who fire-bombed his exhibit

I don't disagree with your meaning, but seeing the word used that way for the umpteenth time, I think a refresher of terminology is in order:

a) Mike Godwin is a licensed American attorney who is General Counsel for the Wikimedia Foundation. Godwin's Law, named for him, states that as an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one. Godwin argued that overuse of Nazi and Hitler comparisons should be avoided, because it robs the valid comparisons of their impact. To declare "Godwin" on someone in a blog thread is rhetorical device used invalidate someone's argument, as they have resorted to this lazy hyperbole only to make a point that could otherwise have been made while inflaming others in the process. Hence, no good can come of the debate, and should therefore be declared closed.

b) Hitler was a racist asshole who incited a large modern nation-state to imprison and murder millions of its own citizens and started an needless war causing more millions of deaths and misery for an entire continent lasting a decade or more.

c) Nazis are hate-mongering dickheads that can't think for themselves.

I think they were behaving more like c than a or b.
posted by psmealey at 11:15 AM on October 10, 2007


does anybody else find it ironic that a video of an action decrying the decline of western civilization and attempting to "restore" its lost glory is set to death metal?
posted by mano at 11:27 AM on October 10, 2007


"Those fools! They've stolen my idea!"
-Man Ray, when anti-Dadaist students destroyed his "Object To Be Destroyed" in 1957
posted by koeselitz at 11:34 AM on October 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


If nihilistic insanity is a work of art, then the answer is clearly yes.

Nihilists! Fuck me. I mean, say what you like about the tenets of National Socialism, dude, at least it's an ethos.
posted by dubold at 12:02 PM on October 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


Although outright vandalism is over the top, I think the basic performance concept needs a bit more finesse to be marketable.

Let the artist create new works (the more controversial the better), and have the gallery frame them in clear Lexan. Place boxes of sticky blue ribbons and rotten tomatoes at the exhibit entrance to be awarded by visitors as they see fit.

The artist — if Serrano can be included in that category — gets to make their statement; and the audience gets to make theirs.

Film the result for future retrospective exhibitions and post snippets on YouTube so they can be discussed on MeFi. Wipe off the Lexan, box the art up, and you're ready for the next city in the tour.

Everybody wins, attendance and media attention would increase, and art shows would be a heckuva lot more fun.
posted by cenoxo at 12:02 PM on October 10, 2007


I mean, say what you like about the tenets of...

Is this the most oft-quoted movie line in MeFi? It was at about 8 the last time I checked.
posted by Tommy Gnosis at 12:14 PM on October 10, 2007


It's all a bit silly. By doing this Serrano just gets more public attention. I bet attendance at the exhibit goes up tenfold after this.

Is destruction of art itself art? Sure. The real question here is, is it legal? Not unless the owner of the to-be-destroyed art consents. As far as I know Serrano didn't consent to this. So the act is illegal.

Can art, like Serrano's, be illegal? Sure. Local obscenity laws should certainly apply. My guess would be since the art was displayed indoors, in its own room, you're not subjecting it to viewers who do not want to see it, so it's probably not illegal.

The right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins.
posted by ruthsarian at 12:47 PM on October 10, 2007


Serrano has photographed members of the Klu Klux Klan in the past... to make explicit criticism of prejudice and racism and how it has a corrosive effect on society. I'm sure the National Socialists love him for that.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:47 PM on October 10, 2007


The video would have been better if, instead of smashing the photos, they had stuck big red adhesive squares over the offending bits (like they did in their video). That whole concept is screwy. They are saying that it is OK for kids (etc.) to see (on YouTube) the naked guy blowing the other naked guy, as long as we have a red rectangle over the penis. Quality thought patterns at work there!
posted by spock at 1:34 PM on October 10, 2007


Reading all this I can't help but think if someone took a sledge hammer and knocked the tits off all the sculptures in the Louvre, as long as the vandal explained his detailed process of reasoning that led him to this act of protest against, something, there would be a pack of people standing around fawning about his artistic talent and debating how to display this new and innovative work.

I can't really wrap my head around that mode of thought.
posted by kjs3 at 1:47 PM on October 10, 2007


But I agree with squeak, and I think that it is inappropriate to apply ad-hoc art status to an act of vandalism

It isn't the vandalism that is or isn't art, it's the film of the vandalism. The film very definitely has intention, the soundtrack, the titles, the blocking out of the naughty bits followed by a montage at the end of the naughty bits smashed out, the editing, etc. The clip is setup by first showing you the exhibit as it is, with the understanding that the viewer will be shocked by it (which also happens to be Serrano's purpose in the first place if people who criticized him in 89 are to be believed). In other words, the film takes the art as the artists intended it, makes an assumption about how the viewer will react to that art, and them shows the vandals rushing in as heroes to purge the filth from the museum walls.

I'm not suggesting it was intended as art, nor am I suggesting that we should hold up this vile act as something great.

But there is something to be noted about how and why they excised from the photos precisely that which is trivially offensive - the genitals. Why not burn the photos, steal them, or slash them to pieces? Why edit them? All they removed from the photos were the sex organs, but it is clear from the rest of the photo what the context is. Is that what is offensive, the penis? What is frightening or disconcerting to the vandals about a penis that they have to remove it?

Notice the text commentary in the video. "Is this normal?" "Four national socialists decided to express the opinion of normal people." Normal? Unlike Serrano's work, which shocks and offends what most people consider "normal", this video attempts to undue the shock and restore "normality".

This is why an exhibit of these now damaged photos should not credit Serrano. It is the vandals intention their "contribution", overt or subconscious, that now defines the work. Pictures of "deviant" sex that have been "normalized" by removing only the penises. Taken in the context of who these vandals were - political extremists, homophobes, racists - this is fascinating. Much more so than Serrano's photos, which are rather pedestrian in view of what is available on the internet.

Finally, I notice that the video is gone from youtube. Why? There is violence and nudity all over youtube, and not much of either on this. So why take it down?
posted by Pastabagel at 2:09 PM on October 10, 2007


NSBM is the unfortunate consequence of largely uneductated metalheads reading Nietzsche without the advantage of a classroom discussion on the material lead by a thoughtful expert. You can imagine how it goes; they flip right to the aphorisms and start getting shit all wrong, and it continues to go downhill from there.

There was a gorgeous period in metal between 1981 and 1986 that was pretty Nietzsche-free, that reveled in its own spectacular dumbness. I suggest watching a couple Venom videos to get an idea of how beautiful that era's lack of self-consciousness coupled with total sincerity was. It's a shame someone stumbled across a copy of Beyond Good and Evil while searching for "evil" books in the library and ruined everything.
posted by The Straightener at 2:14 PM on October 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


there would be a pack of people standing around fawning about his artistic talent and debating how to display this new and innovative work.
I can't really wrap my head around that mode of thought.
posted by kjs3 at 4:47 PM on October 10


It isn't fawning. It's attempting to understand the act for what it actually means, not for what they, the vandals, want it to mean. Of course it's terrible to destroy art. But unlike a bunch of drunks who slash a Monet, the vandals here created something that reveals more about themselves than their words or chosen message. They wanted this to be an attack against perversion and a reaffirmation of whatever they think normality is.

But look at what they left behind - photos that are entirely intact but for the penis. The film is an act of violence against art, set to aggressive violent music, in the name of restoring sexual normalcy. Violence as a means to correct sex. What does that say about the people who did this, and the people who applaud it? In the minds of the neonazi movement (or at least this particular group), how much do masochism and reaction formation dominate their psychology? Are they aware of this? Is this what they consider normal?
posted by Pastabagel at 2:21 PM on October 10, 2007


It isn't fawning.

Thanks for that. I'm comforted to know my instinctive inclination to see the rationalization as sophistry was spot on.
posted by kjs3 at 2:28 PM on October 10, 2007


Rationalizing what? The act of vandalism? No one is doing that.
posted by Pastabagel at 2:49 PM on October 10, 2007


It's attempting to understand the act for what it actually means, not for what they, the vandals, want it to mean.

A very interesting point, Pastabagel, but one more germane to psychology than art. That the vandals revealed more about their own twisted views about sexuality and violence has little to do with whether or not their video itself should be considered art.

I stand by my earlier assessment: if it's art, it's bad art, and not really worth much discussion from that perspective. From a social or psychological perspective, as you raise, there are more interesting issues to consider.
posted by LooseFilter at 2:53 PM on October 10, 2007




There was a gorgeous period in metal between 1981 and 1986 that was pretty Nietzsche-free, that reveled in its own spectacular dumbness. I suggest watching a couple Venom videos to get an idea of how beautiful that era's lack of self-consciousness coupled with total sincerity was. It's a shame someone stumbled across a copy of Beyond Good and Evil while searching for "evil" books in the library and ruined everything.

Personally, I think Venom and their contemporaries (Sodom, Hellhammer, Bathory, and Mercyful Fate in particular) are at least a little Nietzsche-esque in their rejection and inversion of conventional morality. NSBM and the like differs in its stridency and its embrace of the political, but I think the basic ideas of the movement (violence, intolerance, and force) are quite compatible with the ideals of the extreme end of mid-80s heavy metal. IMHO the difference between the ideals expressed by today's black and death metal bands and those of the heavy metal bands I mentioned above is primarily one of degree, not type.

At any rate, you can draw a direct line between much of today's NSBM and Bathory's "For All Those Who Died" ('88) and Hammerheart ('90), and those weren't exactly about the Ubermensch. NSBM is not about Nietzsche or even German Nazism per se, rather a sense of frustration with the modern world and a fascination with European heritage and old pagan myth. And that is and always has been a part of heavy metal, whether the year is 1976, 1986, 1996, or 2006.
posted by vorfeed at 3:49 PM on October 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


If I destroy someone elses art that I don't own, that can be art?

so, the Taliban were artists?
posted by Megafly at 4:00 PM on October 10, 2007


Dude, when I was growing up metal was the life soundtrack for alcoholic roofers.
posted by The Straightener at 4:11 PM on October 10, 2007


Dude, when I was growing up metal was the life soundtrack for alcoholic roofers.

"Immigrant Song"
"Born Too Late"
"Beyond the Realms of Death"
"Gates of Valhalla"
etc etc.

Heavy metal's not just about drinking (or roofing, though I must admit that Voivod's "War and Pro-Panel" was a major influence on the genre).
posted by vorfeed at 4:32 PM on October 10, 2007


Totally.
posted by The Straightener at 4:37 PM on October 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


Totally.

\m/
posted by vorfeed at 4:38 PM on October 10, 2007


Pastabagel, I understand your position better and I think you have made some really good points. I think that you are using the video as a springboard to consider art/philosophical/psychological issues, even though you are regarding the video in a way that is unintended by the people that made it. And that's fine; it adds new element to the discussion that was started by the photographs themselves.

Although the video does have some of the qualities of art (creates emotional response, prompts discussion, is presented in a short film format, etc.), and although we can have a conversation about its aesthetic merits, I think that you would be better doing this as a thought exercise. One of the qualities that distinguishes art from non-art is a consensual acknowlegement of a work's legitimacy (whether that is fair, and whether that consensus should be made by an powerful art cabal or by the general public is another debate), and most people wouldn't want to treat this act as something as artistically legitimate.

Admittedly, I am reacting from a gut level response to it too: if art were a party, these would be the guys that nobody, nobody wants to show up.
posted by Benjamin Nushmutt at 6:04 PM on October 10, 2007


Equating vandalism with art is similar to comparing lovemaking to rape; the mechanics might be similar, but the intention is far different. This was not an artistic act, and was not intended as such - the perpertrators went into this intending it to be a symbolic act of violence, meant to terrorize homosexuals.

As a work of art, it fails - particularly as a statement on the work of Serrano, who I secretly suspect is LOVING this, as his art hasn't provoked anyone in a very long time.
posted by louche mustachio at 4:19 AM on October 11, 2007


Hey, at least they weren't burning flags and rioting over a bunch of cartoons. Also, I'm not sure that "National Socialists" can be equated with "Nazis" under all circumstances either. That's like using "American Republican party member" interchangeably with "conservative". Although the Nazis are the most well known National Socialists, they weren't the first or the last. It's possible to be both a nationalist and a socialist without hating Jews or people of different races, without contradiction.
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 5:10 AM on October 11, 2007


For serious? Dude, they're nazis. They founded their party on Hitler's birthday, for crying out loud!
posted by robcorr at 1:33 AM on October 12, 2007


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