Thursday, June 9, 2016

Week 9 Blog Post: Final Post

Hello again classmates!

 As we arrive to the end of the class I think the image that stood out to me most, which was kind of a curveball, was My Sweet Lord by Cosimo Cavallaro. Here is the image:

This is the giant, anatomically correct, sculpture of Christ that was supposed to be displayed at the Lab Gallery in Manhattan, New York. This artwork really stood out to me because of the film we watched in class. You guys remember right? The one in which Cosimo Cavallaro and Bill Donohue have a heated debate on CNN’s Anderson Cooper. In this video, Bill Donohue makes unnecessarily crass statements about the art community, and Cavallaro himself. Cosimo makes the statement that he chose chocolate as the medium because he likes the confection himself, and also because chocolates sweetness serves as a representation of how he sees Christ. Cosimo himself is catholic, and yet his decisions were not respected at all by Donohue who at one point even refers to artists as losers. This was all very ridiculous to me, but what made it even more ridiculous were the reasons sites by the Catholic League. For starters, they felt that the fact that Christ was disrobed and anatomically correct was a form of hate speech. What makes this an odd argument is that when Christ was crucified, he would have most likely have been nude, and would have also definitely have had the corresponding anatomic parts.

According to religious texts and historians, Christ was crucified by order of Pontius Pilate, Prefect of Judea of the Roman Empire. Roman use of crucifixion was the most brutal form of punishment that was used. There were usually several steps that were followed, and one of the agreed upon practices was that the recipient of the punishment was stripped nude. If this were the case, Jesus Christ would have in fact been nude when nailed or bound to the cross. This would then suggest that the only reason people assume that Christ had some form of cloth covering his genitals is because he has been depicted that way by the church. I am sure that the reasons for this are because of their decision to censor genitalia. This is a decision that has affected people even in the contemporary, and is a LIE. Why would it matter for Cosimo to portray Jesus in the nude if that is how he was executed? Also, why does making the body out of chocolate differ from the use of unleavened wafer bread, or even wine as a substitute for Christ’s blood during communion. The answer to me is simple. It is a matter of tradition. Just because Cavallaro decided to depict Christ in a fashion that is different than usually shown doesn’t make it ‘hate speech’.

Interesting note: There are several places that make chocolate religious candies and chocolates, including ones of Jesus. There’s even a beer named after him. No negative comment by the Catholic League. I suppose it only happens when you get to the next level of religious sensitivity: Catholic Lane See Here:

Week 8 Blog Post: Class Presentations: Censorship v. Freedom of Expression

Hello again classmates!

So in this blog post we are supposed to write primarily about which debate was most interesting to us, which team won us over, and why. I will definitely complete this assignment as required, but first I wanted to bring up something about the actual debates themselves. With the exception of the first pair of teams to go, I feel that the remainder of the presentations was a bit on the confrontational side. It seems that somewhere along the way, we decided that we were going to address each other instead of the arguments that we were making. I know this because people kept saying stuff like “you said” rather than “it was argued”. I just really hope everyone can remember that along with the skills of critical thought and analysis, the third side to that is expression. When you express yourselves here on campus, or even out in the job market, it will be incredibly important to divorce yourself of any personal attacks. ‘Ad Hominem’ as they are described in the art of argumentation and philosophy are divisive, and tend to water down any intellectual argument you may make because of the attack you are making on your opponent. This shouldn’t suggest that you shouldn’t make arguments from a personal or passionate perspective; they should just be about ideas, not people. With that in mind, I wish all of you much success in your future expressions, and hope you will keep this tenet of respect in mind.

Now…back to the assignment at hand…

I particularly enjoyed the presentation of the Lactating Virgins teams, and ultimately gave my vote to the team that was for censorship of the image. Mostly, it seemed that there was a disparity between the teams preparedness that led to my vote being cast for the Censor team.

On the other hand, the most interesting and controversial debate, I believe, was the Robert Mapplethorpe arguments. There were great arguments on either side, both seeming to follow suit in a political fashion, but what I found most interesting was the decisions made by both teams with WHICH arguments to use as their main focus. Specifically, for the censoring team, I thought it was good use of the scientific aspect, to bring credibility to their argument. Although I don’t agree with its use I understand using it for the advantage of argument sake.

I truly believe that in the future, this assignment should be one in which people choose a side, then get told to argue the opposite. It would really challenges people, and force them to consider views that are opposite their own.

Week 7 Blog Post: Por Vida Manuel Paul

Hello again classmates!

In our last class session a guest speaker, Vincent Carillo, introduced us to and discussed the art piece Por Vida by Manuel Paul. 

During the in class presentation about the art piece I couldn’t help but think of the irony of the piece being displayed in the Mission District of San Francisco. The irony to me is that the Mission District is from what I have heard and read, an area in which a significant population of Latino communities exists, despite gentrification, and those communities are largely Catholic. I have also read that the area is art friendly, but think that perhaps this artwork was pushing the boundary of comfort for the population of the area. In a way, because the Mission District is so close to the Castro, I wonder if its inhabitants may feel a form of culture that is being imposed on them that they may feel has its place and space in a nearby area. Very much feels like the NIMBY sentiment (Not In My Back Yard).

The art piece contains images of Gay and Lesbian couples embracing on the flanks of the piece, and a central image of what appears to be a transgendered person with mastectomy scars. So when putting up the mural, which involves those topics in a largely Catholic neighborhood, I think it was destined for a strong reaction. For someone to deface the work, set on a public street, I think that is in the realm of expected reaction. However, I do not condone this. I do find it shocking that someone decided to set fire to the piece after it had been reprinted and hung up multiple times. From what we learned in class Por Vida was placed on a wall in which the next level up from it were apartments. Such reckless endangerment of life is deplorable on the part of the arsonist, although perhaps the fact that it was reckless suggests that the vandal didn’t fully imagine the repercussions of their actions. I ultimately feel that this image should not have been censored due to its content, but am satisfied with the collective’s decision to not reprint and mount it, after it was shown that those who vandalized the piece were willing to escalate the manner in which they defaced it. The result of property damage and potential loss of life were too great a risk, and I believe the piece got even MORE exposure and discussion from media afterwards. This seems to fulfill the desire to start a dialogue about the piece, even though it was not the preferred method of opening dialogue, and spread the image farther than just the local community.

I very much enjoyed the presentation as a whole, but really enjoyed getting to learn of the Maricon Collective. I was not aware of their existence, and have since educated myself a bit about their beginnings, and some of their additional works. 

Here is a link to an interesting article about them. Enjoy!

Week 6 Blog Post: Final Painting Project

Hello again classmates!

 I have been having a very difficult time trying to figure out exactly what I want to paint for our final canvas. All this time focusing on studying other peoples controversial images and I figured that this would be a relatively easy topic, but I realize now that I would be a terrible artist, because coming up with original content is one of the most difficult things for me. I realize that a big roadblock in my being able to come up with ideas is that any time I feel like I have come up with something, I don’t just immediately act on it, but research the topic. If I find something that remotely seems like my project could be a duplicate or too closely related, I start over.

This is very exhausting.

In the end I decided to go with the topic of transgender people; specifically the recent phobias the media is reporting on around the country. Recently, there has been a law passed in North Carolina, which is restrictive for transgender people’s use of restroom facilities. In addition, members of an on campus group, Republican Bruins have been had their picture appear in the Daily Bruin and on various social media websites. The images are very callous, derogatory, and divisive. Here is one of those images:

I cannot comprehend how or why people have such a difficult time accepting others. Perhaps my own experiences do not allow for me to interpret their reservations as anything other than callousness. I very much have to force myself to remember that people are not always a product of their own ideas, but those that they are most frequently exposed to over the length of their lives. Because of this cold, hard, fact, I sometimes wonder how we as people will ever be able to combat the effects of ideological enclaves. There are people in our country who make it a point to only get to know, interact, and have discourse with people who already share their same viewpoints.

Because of these attitudes, I am going to be creating a painting, which would be an illustration of the hurtful effects of the bashing of the transgender community. I plan on making a painting of a beaten and bloodied bruin looking sad, next to Royce Hall or some other facility that is easy to identify.

UPDATE: The painting has been completed. Despite my best efforts, I feel there is something left to be desired. I think, mostly because of the use of only gray scale, that the painting isn’t as powerful as I had hoped. This is because I don’t think the blood stands out from the painting. Perhaps I should go get some red paint and add JUST the red to the blood. Also, I included the initials of states that have passed transphobic laws onto the shirts of people who represent the offending parties to the Bruin Bear.

Here is the final product:

Week 4 Blog Post: Recreating a Controversial Image

Hello again classmates!

For this week’s blog post we were asked to write about the controversial image we would be recreating. I have decided to utilize one image by artist Luis Quiles that I feel is about censorship, and also present some of his other works.

But first thing is first. Here is the the image I am using:

It is most commonly referred to as Censorship Seriart Killer, and was drawn by Quiles in response to his censorship on the website, in which he goes by the handle: Gunsmithcat. To better get an understanding of why Quiles decided to draw this piece of art it is important to know what exactly what the website is. According to the ‘About Us’ portion of, the website’s primary function is to be the premiere social media platform for artists to be able to exhibit promote, and share their works. A direct quote from the page is:

“We are the movement for the liberation of creative expression. We believe that art is for everyone, and we're creating the cultural context for how it is created, discovered, and shared.”

So Luis Quiles shared some images: 

Because of this lofty biographical description, a visitor to the webpage might get the impression that any and all types of art will be displayed, and that context will be provided for its creation. What Luis Quiles found as a contributing member was quite the opposite of this. After enjoying a small period of success with many people engaging and critiquing his works Luis noticed that some of his art pieces were missing. Upon further inspection of this, he found that as he was searching through his body of posted works, they were being actively deleted. When he was finally able to get in touch with moderators of the website he was given the run around and told that they would need to investigate. As a protest, Quiles decided to draw and post Censorship Seriart Killer to bring to light what was happening with his artworks within that community. Even nowadays, he has never fully recovered the same presence on the site. This is also in light that of the posts that website moderators have not deleted, his account still boasts 229 works posted, 13,231 comments posted, and 2,268,639 views of his pages.

This image very much resonated with me in the context of the class. It is actually a perfect illustration of what comes to mind during our discussions and readings. I also immediately started to wonder how toned down must be if his posts were being taken down. As it turns out, there are quite a few posts of some rather explicit images. Here are a couple:

The next thing I did was take a look at Quiles body of work, and was quite impressed by his ability to create images that are very easy to interpret. Although when you google his name, the majority of the images you will immediately see are his sexually suggestive images, there are many more, and all have some form of well thought out political statement or critique on society. Quiles critiques cover a wide range of topics, from corporate sponsorship in professional athletics, social media exploitation, terrorist recruitment, and commercialization of media.

I hope you enjoy the photographs. I know I did.

Some extra links: