Monday, October 22, 2007

Shock Value

John Rockwell writing 'about shock in art. Audiences and institutions have long believed that anything that unsettles is intended to provoke. The provocation hardly needs to be sexual. It can be childlike (''My 5-year-old could do that!'') or primitive (Gauguin) or political (Grosz) or distorted (Cubism) or conceptually unsettling (Duchamp's urinal; Cage's ''4' 33' '' of silence).

For a long while, when people raged against such provocations, I would take the defiant position of assuming, unless authoritatively informed otherwise, that the artist had no intention to provoke. Morton Feldman needed to write a six-hour string quartet. Philip Glass needed to spin out his deafening electronic-keyboard arpeggiations to the end of time. Maybe even Jeff Koons needed to depict coitus with his wife at the time, an Italian pornography star and Parliament member.'

('Reverberations; Shocking! Offensive! But Being Pleasant Is Beside The Point')


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