Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Ann Althouse on Today's New York Times Art Review

From Ann Althouse's blog:
Apparently, the NYT has not heard of some of the less-frequently-invoked American freedoms: the freedom to ignore propaganda, the freedom to avert your eyes from artists who scream for attention, the freedom to shop without genuflecting at sanctimonious criticism of your country, and the freedom to loathe hideous art. (emphasis Althouse)

Now, the journalist who wrote this piece, Damien Cave, did spend "18 months on and off" reporting from Iraq, and he is "stunned by the war’s lack of impact on people’s lives or thoughts." I'm not sure why his personal experience belongs in this article. He seems to be offering it as a basis of authority for his promotion of this exhibit which aims to goad Floridian shoppers to agonize about the war. I'd say it reveals that Cave's field of expertise is not art.

The most powerful efforts tackle the tension between the American democratic ideal and its practice. The Map Office, a design studio in New York, produced three unequivocal images. One poster shows democracy as a green goo spread across a pristine landscape; another reads, “kiss the fist of democracy.” A third says, “Democracy is the Helvetica of Politics,” reflecting its ubiquity, openness and adulteration, the artists said.

The most powerful efforts? Look at the slide show at the link. These are the most embarrassingly unsophisticated pictures in the bunch.

A paradox is embedded in this round of cynicism and self-doubt...

Why, then, are we so depressed?...

In many cases the results feel more like heartbreak than like anger...

Democracy often seems to grow uglier with age.

But amid the happy, escapist shoppers at the Aventura mall, these thoughts felt as out of place as Rockwell’s proud posters. The sprawling darkness of Mr. Kuitca’s remake of “Freedom of Fear,” with the original tucked in the corner, seemed far more apt.

You've got to be kidding me. This is the New York Times, not the student newspaper at Florida International University?