Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Chris Ofili’s “Holy Virgin Mary”

So I know we’ve been talking a lot about art the past few days, so I’ve found a couple of pieces of artwork that have undergone a lot of controversy about whether or not they should be viewed by the public or placed in a public museum.

Go here: http://www.your3dsource.com/holyvirginmary.jpeg to view a controversial piece of art by Chris Ofili. The following was said about the controversy:

In 1999, the city-funded Brooklyn Museum of Art came under fire when it exhibited a Chris Ofili painting of the Virgin Mary that featured sexually explicit cutouts covered with elephant dung. The Catholic Church, as well as New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, were outraged. Giuliani denounced the exhibit as morally offensive and threatened to cut off funding to the museum and terminate its lease if it did not cancel the exhibit that included Ofili’s painting. The city followed through and withheld the museum’s rent payment for October and filed a state lawsuit to get the lease revoked.

As a countermeasure, the museum filed a suit in federal court against the city claiming violations of the first ammendment, and seeking a permanent injunction against the city to keep it from withholding funds. U.S. District Judge Nina Gershon, sided with the museum, and granted them a preliminary injunction. The city was also ordered to resume the museum's funding, and to stop any eviction proceedings.

(Visit http://www.your3dsource.com/controversial-artwork.html to view more instances of controversial art.)

**Consider the following questions:

What do you think should have been done about the “Holy Virgin Mary”?

Do you think Judge Gershon was justified in siding with the museum?

Putting this in a broader sense, should anything that is expressing an opinion, no matter how offensive to any kind of people, be allowed in a public place, and be funded by the money of taxpayers?

What types of knowledge issues are relevant in dealing with these kinds of cases?

-Sam Thompson


Simone S. said...

In answer to the argument that the art should not be funded by taxpayer's money if it is found offensive by some people, I think that the taxpayer's money is funding the museum as a whole and not individual art pieces. Therefore it is a reflection on the museum if they want to show controversial works of art and not on the opinions of the public.

One knowledge issue when dealing with this type of case is that everyone has a different background when it comes to art. The curators of the museum or art gallery are more knowledgeable about art in general and can look beyond the actual painting to the meaning that the artist was trying to convey. Other people who are not so familiar with art may immediately be put off by the painting becasue they do not have the depth of understanding that a person who has studied art has.

Judge Gershon was justified in siding with the museum because she acted properly in her role as judge by following the first ammendment. Personally she may have found the painting offensive but as a judge she is supposed to justify her decision by laws and not by personal bias.

katrina337 said...

I agree with the judge that the museum's funding should be continued, and that the Holy Virgin Mary should still be shown. I agree with Simone that the money from taxpayer's is going to the museum, not individual art pieces. I'm sure there are plenty of other art pieces in the museum that people will find acceptable that they can view. I don't think the art has a bad connotation at all, I find very interesting and thought-provoking, so I don't see why it should be a huge deal.
It largely plays on bias, with people's religious stance and how into religion they are.