Meditations on and responses to censorship from a selection of literary heroes from the past century.
In Mrs. Warren’s Profession (public library), George Bernard Shaw puts it in the most deterministic terms possible:
All censorships exist to prevent anyone from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently, the first condition of progress is the removal of censorship.
In September of 1965, Susan Sontag wrote in her diary, As Consciousness Is Harnessed to Flesh: Journals and Notebooks, 1964-1980:
I am against censorship. In all forms. Not just for the right of masterpieces — high art — to be scandalous.
But what about pornography (commercial)?
Find the wider context:
notion of voluptuousness à la Bataille?
But what about children? Not even for them? Horror comics, etc.
Why forbid them comics when they can read worse things in the newspapers any day. Napalm bombing in Vietnam, etc.
A just/ discriminating censorship is impossible.
In 1985, when the Public Library in Nijmegen decided to remove Charles Bukowski’s Tales of Ordinary Madness (public library) after a complaint from a reader, declaring it “very sadistic, occasionally fascist and discriminatory against certain groups (including homosexuals),” a local journalist reached out to the author for a response. Bukowski immediately fired off an altogether brilliant letter, which included a direct shot at the essence of censorship:
“Censorship is the tool of those who have the need to hide actualities from themselves and from others. Their fear is only their inability to face what is real, and I can’t vent any anger against them. I only feel this appalling sadness. Somewhere, in their upbringing, they were shielded against the total facts of our existence. They were only taught to look one way when many ways exist.”
Indiegogo To Add Option For Companies To Embed Crowdfunding Campaigns On Own Websites
There is no shortage of crowdfunding websites out there, vying to help you raise cash for your big idea but the two highest profile outfits remain Kickstarter and Indiegogo — the former having the reputation of the 800 pound gorilla in the crowdfunding room.
According to research, Kickstarter was responsible for raising around 6x more successful funding than Indiegogo (Indiegogo did dispute that research, however).
Whatever the truth, the perception remains that Indiegogo plays second fiddle to Kickstarter. Which gives it all the more reason to broaden out its feature-set to crank up its appeal. Case in point: it’s announced a plan to extended its reach with the launch of a tool, called Indiegogo Outpost, that will let companies run Indiegogo crowdfunding campaigns as embeds on their own websites.
What’s the point of that? It says the idea is to allow companies with large followings/powerful existing brands of their own to leverage the traffic and energy that’s directed at their own website.
“We’re always looking for new ways to help Indiegogo campaigns directly engage with audiences who are likely to support them,” said Slava Rubin, Indiegogo co-founder and CEO, in a statement coming on the planned launch.
Outpost campaigns won’t be exclusively out on a limb. They will also get a mirrored campaign on Indiegogo’s website so the company running an Outpost campaign still gets to tap into its nine million monthly unique visitors — in a ‘have your cake & eat it’ type scenario.
Beyond that, the tool also, of course, adds another string to Indiegogo’s bow in the feature-set competition with Kickstarter.
Indiegogo said Outpost campaigns will be able to use its own campaign analytics tools, or integrate third party tools such as Google Analytics, KISSmetrics, Mixpanel or Facebook retargeting if they prefer.
They can also still be included in Indiegogo’s own marketing channels. And Outposters will get support from Indiegogo in the form of access to its educational resources, Trust and Safety team, and Customer Happiness team.
One potential risk associated with extending the reach of crowdfunding off of a central hub website is that scammers might seek to take advantage to run bogus crowdfunding campaigns which aren’t in any way affiliated with Indiegogo. Of course such campaigns wouldn’t have any mirror on the main Indiegogo website — so that’s one way for future crowdfunders to verify that an Indiegogo Outpost campaign is bona fide.
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When Henri Cartier-Bresson would talk about “The Decisive Moment” he said sometimes it would be spontaneous but others times he had to be patient and wait for it. Regardless he was very methodological when he would go out and shoot, and would only keep his images if every element of his image (people, background, framing, and composition) were perfect.
Katarina Thorsen’s work was challenged in 1990 and is still challenging today. A Swedish artist with a black child, who she is and why she creates is influenced by her experiences but how can you get back to being authentic when your work has been challenged by cultural appropriation?
Coming from a journalism background, it was a natural progression for me (Patti Henderson) to move into filmmaking practice, a cinematic tradition, through a nonfictional art form, the documentary.
Fear No Art — An Inquisition (1995) was a 5-minute ‘artumentary’ that explored the question, “what happens to an artist whose art work inspires protest?” I documented artist Katarina Thorsen’s journey as she works through the censorship, penalization from art galleries, the right to freedom of artistic expression and creativity and ultimately her own vulnerability.
Favourite art films and documentaries for art lovers.
Director Terry Zwigoff spent six years following around his friend, legendary underground comic-book artist Robert Crumb, crafting the footage into a multifaceted mosaic of the artist’s troubled past and how it illuminates his often troubling work. The film ushered in a second-wave of fans unfamiliar with Crumb’s drawings, which have now transitioned from alternative weeklies and damp comic-book shops to galleries and museums.
In the Realms of the Unreal (2004)
Self-taught artist Henry Darger has become legendary for his secretive and prolific life’s work; a massive collection of fantastical drawings, paintings, and writings that feature the now-iconic characters “the Vivian Girls,” which were not discovered until after his death. Academy Award-winning filmmaker Jessica Yu takes viewers on a journey into the very private world of the outsider artist, through hauntingly animated versions of his paintings and accounts of what little is known of his life.
Ballets Russes (2005)
The current vogue for art and popular culture synergy was primed more than half century ago by Russian impresario Sergei Diaghilev. This dazzling documentary gives a glimpse inside his world-renowned Russian dance troupe, the Ballets Russes. Founded by the artistic director in 1909, the company took the Paris stage by storm with Diaghilev’s avant-garde works and collaborations with some of the finest artists of the era in the areas of visual arts, music, and costume. For his groundbreaking ballet “Le Train Bleu” during the 1924 season Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel created the costumes for the dancers from her own “sport” collection, while Pablo Picasso himself designed the staggering stage curtain (almost dwarfing his mural “Guernica”), based on his 1922 painting “Deux Femme Courant Sur La Plage.” More than just a visual feast for dance lovers, the film shows how Diaghilev’s influence stretched beyond ballet.
Manufactured Landscapes (2006)
Following Canadian photographer Ed Burtynsky from the epicenter of Chinese industry to the oil fields of Bangladesh, “Manufactured Landscapes” is a shocking — and as it so happens, very topical — look at environmental devastation through the lens of Burtynsky’s strangely beautiful images. The works are elegant statements on the state of the world and depressingly awe-inspiring, and show the power of art to open eyes, in every sense of the phrase.
Here is Always Somewhere Else (2007)
In one of the more notable examples of performance art gone horribly awry, in 1975, 33-year-old Dutch-Californian artist Bas Jan Ader set out to cross the Atlantic in a 13-foot cruiser for a piece titled “In Search of the Miraculous.” He never returned. In a film that’s part unsolved-mystery, part artist-survey, director Rene Daalder chronicles his friend’s disappearance while also presenting Ader’s conceptual work in performance art, film, and photography, which, considering his brief life, was amazingly prolific.
Black White + Gray (2007)
A profile of Sam Wagstaff, an obsessive photography collector and Robert Mapplethorpe’s long-term partner, “Black White + Gray” follows him from his aristocratic upbringing, to his visionary curating and collecting among the gay S&M world of 1970s New York, to his final years as a collector of American silver.
Guest of Cindy Sherman (2008)
“Guest of Cindy Sherman” captures the unlikely love affair between art world gadfly Paul H-O, the unpretentious host of the public access television show “Gallery Beat” in the 1990s, and legendary conceptual photographer Cindy Sherman. The film’s title references the name H-O found on his place card at a fancy dinner the two attended just as their four-year relationship was unraveling. That Sherman isn’t formally interviewed makes the film even more intimate — all we see is archival footage of the two flirting and falling in love while H-O struggles to come to terms with her growing fame.
Louise Bourgeois: The Spider, the Mistress and the Tangerine (2008)
Two years before her death at age 98, this documentary offered a glimpse inside the French-American sculptress’s Chelsea home-studio, revealing an irrepressibly inquisitive mind and a hoarder-sized trove of unseen works. Filmmakers Marion Cajori and Amei Wallach compliment their candid and contemporary portrait with contextualizing biographical information, filling out the life of an exceptional artist who always remained beyond the conventions of the avant-garde of her day.
Picasso and Braque Go to The Movies (2008)
With interviews of Martin Scorsese and Julian Schnabel, “Picasso and Braque Go to the Movies” makes a case for the close relationship, and intertwined evolution of Cubism and film. The work of Picasso and Braque is placed against the background of the era, presenting an intriguing new context for the development of the ur-movement of 20th-century modernism.
Herb and Dorothy (2008)
No list of art documentaries would be complete without “Herb and Dorothy,” the story of the famed middle-class art collecting couple who amassed thousands of works by 20th-century artists in their one-bedroom apartment. The film offers an indelible how a love of art and love intertwine.
Basquiat, The Radiant Child (2010)
Footage of a baby-faced (and slightly shy) Jean-Michel Basquiat being casually interviewed by his friend Tamra Davis evinces the tragedy of Basquait’s life as an artist — but more powerfully, it evinces the tragedy of his life as a brilliant young man.
The Woodmans (2010)
Interviews with artist Francesca Woodman’s family and peers are woven together with her videos, photographs, and excerpts from her diary to tell the story of her life, work, and tragic death. The film, like Woodman’s artwork and like Woodman herself, asks serious and even troubling questions about art, fame, and self-image, but leaves it to the audience to work through the answers.
Waste Land (2010)
A Brazilian slum native who rose to art world stardom in the mid-’90s for his signature images of artists’ portraits re-created, and re-imaged, using materials like sugar, peanut butter or syrup, Vik Muniz more recently embarked on a two-year project working with Gramacho catadores — trash-pickers — to capture their images via compositions made of scavenged garbage. It’s a strange hybrid of a film, a compelling look into the oft-overlooked trash scavenging industry, and an inspiring demonstration of how Muniz is using his status within the elite art world to provide acknowledgment (and auction sales) to a subgroup otherwise dismissed by the elite.
Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2011)
Werner Herzog’s exclusive access to the Chauvet cave — the site of 30,000-year old Paleolithic paintings — documents some of the oldest artworks known to man. The 3-D film is narrated in Herzog’s lilting German accent and combines footage shot in the cave with high-tech digital renderings, and becomes a fascinating essay on the nature of human creativity.
Eames: The Architect & The Painter (2011)
Charles (the architect) and Ray (the painter) Eames re-defined design in the 20th century, from the furniture in people’s homes to commercials and corporate identities. This film is both a documentary about the exceptionalism of their L.A.-studio, and a love story based on Charles’s magnetism, Ray’s often-overlooked, but indelible creative influence on Charles, and her dedication and love for him.
!Women Art Revolution (2011)
Artist and art historian Lynn Hershman Leeson has been filming the Feminist Art Movement since the 1960s. Her interviews with everyone from artists Nancy Spero, Judy Chicago, and Martha Rosler to New Museum founder Marcia Tucker offer an in-depth look at how feminism helped to reshape the visual arts — which is a story that needs to be told again and again.
Gerhard Richter Painting (2011)
Director Corinna Belz takes viewers into Gerhard Richter’s studio for a rare glimpse at the 80-year-old painter’s laborious, highly physical process. Talking is largely eschewed in favor of long shots of Richter squeegeeing his monumental abstract canvases, making for a rare film about an artist that is more about process than personality.
Ai Weiwei Never Sorry (2012)
Perhaps most unforgettable moment of behind-the-scenes look at the life and work of dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei has the officials from the Chinese government stalking Ai as he eats dinner in a public restaurant. The film is notable for the way it portrays the determination, humor, and exceptional creativity of a truely inspirational individual in the face of repression, and through this, the power of art to matter.
Gregory Crewdson: Brief Encounters (2012)
Each of the Brooklyn-based conceptual photographer’s dramatic small-town tableaux is the outcome of a production process with roughly the complexity of a feature film shoot. This behind-the-scenes machinery is chronicled in this fascinating film, whose most candid moments are nevertheless Crewdson’s at-the-wheel musings while he cruises around location scouting in his preferred Western Massachusetts rust belt towns.
Beauty is Embarrassing (2012)
Director Neil Berkeley follows artist, comedian, experimental puppeteer, and all-around renaissance man Wayne White on his aesthetic peregrinations, recounting his early years as the creator of some of the most beloved characters on “Pee-wee’s Playhouse,” his relocation from New York to Los Angeles, and his improbable crossover from outsider artist status to bonafide success story with his paintings of giant letters spelling hilarious messages — e.g. “Donald Judd Was a Son of a Bitch Wrecked His Train in a Whorehouse Ditch,” “I’ll Smash This Painting Over Your Fucking Head,” and so on — on tacky thrift store landscape paintings.
The artist as the ‘cultural plumber’ and living as a viable machine.
Hellion Gallery strives to be the place between the craft boutiques and the higher end galleries. Matt believes that artists should look forward to a lifelong career rather than a flash in the pan. Matt states, “It’s a marathon, not the 20yd dash.” He encourages everyone to become patrons in this artists economy.
It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.
e. e. Cummings
All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Freedom lies in being bold.
Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things that escape those who dream only at night.
Edgar Allan Poe
Kat Thorsen, the artist featured in my documentary “Fear No Art”, STREET ART flipagram. @bypoststreet does street art globally.
Wheat paste is an adhesive made from wheat flour or starch and water. It has been used since antiquity for various arts and crafts such as book binding, découpage, collage, papier-mâché, and adhering paper posters and notices to walls.