Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Keeping Focus

‘‘If a patron in an art museum objected to a painting and slashed it, we’d be clear that that’s a criminal act,’’ the ART’s artistic director Gideon Lester fumed yesterday.

More at Geoff Edgers Exhibitionist blog.


Thomas Garvey said...

Sorry to break up the indignation party, but isn't this the best possible thing that could have happened to Mike Daisey and his show? The ART certainly thinks so - they immediately sent out an e-blast about it, then posted the video on Youtube! Of course Geoff Edgers quickly fell into line with the "When Christians Attack!" marketing campaign, but really, Art, don't you have more sense? As for Lord Lester's claim that pouring water on Daisey's notes is the equivalent of slashing a painting - puh-leeze. He needs to take it down a notch.

YS said...

Hi Thomas,

Yes, I do know by making my statements I run the risk of sounding overly indignant.

While at the same time, I feel the need to fight what I consider the overly cynical backlash, (represented by your comments above.) From the beginning, I presented this as a scary and terrifying moment for an artist.

I can't emphatically state this enough: If all that happened was the walkout, I would agree with you 100%.

Read my postings carefully, I am not falling into line with, "When the Christians attack." And I don't think Daisey is being censored or anything.

In fact, I posted the article about the Covent Garden Riots not to conflate it with the Daisey walkout, but to put the Daisey walkout in perspective. (Although wouldn't it be great to see a riot about ticket prices today?!)

My focus, from the beginning has been on the terrifying act of somebody walking up and pouring water on the table. Yes, I believe it is bullying, violent and serious. This is where I agree Mr. Lester.

Even if the crowd stayed and booed Mr. Daisey down, overshouting him. I still would not think it as serious as I do now.

Thomas, how much more sense could I have than to feel for Mr. Daisey in that moment?

You have to admit Thomas, this was a very strange moment, and a little scary. In fact, just the weirdness of it, I would argue, warrants the examination.

Let us boil it down to the simple essence. (Take out the Christian angle, censorship, everything else.)

The audience didn't agree with the art, they then defaced it.

I don't care if they didn't like his syntax, the act is very serious. And I will admit that it does not necessarily trend into a larger movement and does not make Mr. Daisey any type of Saint.

Thomas Garvey said...

Again - puh-leeze. "Terrifying"? I don't think so. (In fact, it seems rather cynical to make such a claim about this incident.) I'll allow "vandalism," but even that feels like a slight stretch. This is a teen-ager we're talking about - from a Christian chorus. And some bottled water and two sheets of paper. I agree, the kid was rude, out of line, and should be disciplined - although since he embodies a certain kind of high Christian arrogance, he probably won't be (and his peers no doubt think of him as some kind of hero). But I hope Mike Daisey can handle THAT much attitude - I mean, haven't we all? Yeah - the audience didn't agree with the art - but did they really deface it? Not really. If anything they enhanced it. I mean, this is the most dramatic thing to have happened on an ART stage in ages.

YS said...

Believe me, I don't think a tempest should be made in this teapot, Thomas, but we just disagree.

An interesting point was brought up on another blog, which suggested that the Zero Arrow configuration actually exacerbated the incident.

At Invincible Summer, the audience has no choice when leaving, but to go down to the front and cross right in front of Mike Daisey's table. And he does sit very close to the audience.

This goes more to your point about publicity. If the audience could have escaped out the back or the side exits, the punk wouldn't have been close enough tho pour the water, and the video would not have been half, (or even a quarter,) as compelling.

Thomas Garvey said...

I think what's funniest about this whole imbroglio is the nagging question, "But hasn't the ART been begging for this for years?" I can remember maybe a decade ago, the ART hired "plants" in the audience of "Ubu Rocks" to heckle Thomas Derrah during a particularly droning song. Everyone thought that was wonderfuly meta at the time. So now it's happened for real, and they're terrified? It turns out faux controversy was all they really wanted? Maybe they should change that acronym from ART to WUSS.

YS said...

By the way,

We really should make a distinction. Though the ART may have been begging for this for years, Mike Daisey would be a little more of an innocent bystander, here.

Part of what made me feel for him was the fact that he is a visiting artist.

Thomas Garvey said...

Well, we'll just have to agree to disagree. Hey, come see Zeitgeist's production of one week of Suzan-Lori Parks's "365 Days/365 Plays" Wednesday night at the BCA. I directed one of the segments; we can argue about it. You should also check out "Valhalla."

Thomas Garvey said...

Oh, and by the way, we're desperately trying to book a Christian high school group into "Valhalla," and then tape them as they walk out. Got any contacts in the Christian Right? ;-)

YS said...

I want to get to Valhalla. My wife saw it and loved it.

I know two other directors for the 365, but I unfortunately have rehearsal tonight and won't be able to make it.

Break a leg.