[↑] Source unknown – Title unknown (201X); [↖] Source unknown – Title unknown (201X); [+] Source unknown – Title unknown (201X); [↗] Helix Studios – Title unknown (201X); [-] Source unknown – Title unknown (201X); [↙] Source unknown – Title unknown (201X); [↘] Source unknown – Title unknown (201X)

Follow the thread: Pride edition.

[↖] Source unknown – Title unknown (201X); [↗] Lucas Entertainment – Wall Street feat. Ben Andrews & Rafael Alencar (2009); [↑] Cocky BoysDillon & Max Go Fishin’ {desaturated} (2012); [←] Source unknown – Title unknown (201X); [→] Source unknown – Title unknown (201X); [↓] Source unknown – Title unknown (201X); [<] Vixen.comBad Girl feat. Cadey Mercury & Xander Corvus {desaturated} (2017); [>] PornProsWet Toy Slut feat. Kelly Diamond (2014); [↙] Hustler – Casey Young and Tiffany Taylor (2008); [↘] Source unknown – Title unknown {desaturated} (201X)

Juxtaposition as commentary

[↑] KerbcrawlerghostDetail from cover art for Weregoat’s Pestilential Rites of Infernal Fornication (2016); [-] Christian Martin WeissUntitled (2017); [↙] Source unknown – Title unknown (201X); [↘] Chitra GaneshGirls with Skulls (1999)

My initial thought had been to just throw this out there as an Acetylene Eyes All Hallow’s Eve  themed post. But I’ve been pondering transgression a lot lately, so…

If you consider the Xtian belief that humans were given free will but in order for us to truly be free we had to be presented with the option to choose slavery by eating of the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil…

Except that’s already functionally wrong. The notion that freedom is less than intrinsic and is instead given or revoked suggests an overarching framework of command and control structures–which isn’t freedom, it’s authoritarian.

After the Biblical Fall, humanity is supposedly saddled with a sinful nature. (Again, logically this doesn’t track given that evangelical theology posits that Jesus was the both God and Man but if by being born he became human, then his sinful nature would’ve precluded his distinction of being without sin. The idea that Jesus was born with a sinful nature but never surrender to its temptations is truly a semantic dodge for the ages.

But what interests me is the inter-penetrative nature of sin and salvation–the latter both precludes and is necessitated by the former. If you remove either concept, the other becomes essentially meaningless.

There was this enormous tug-of-war in the Evangelical community when I was in high school in the 1990s. The notion of once saved always saved–by which rational I am still a Xtian–and the sin and salvation two-step (commit a sin, ask for forgiveness, sin again, ask for forgiveness again).

I don’t know how that ever shook out because I 100% stopped caring shortly after I became aware of this schism. (Judging by most Xtians these days, I’d say things landed decidedly on the side of once saved, always saved but that’s not at all scientific.)

But it occurs to me that sin is such a prerequisite for salvation, that perhaps sin is salvation.

The assertion seems like pablum until you stop and carry out a grammatical investigation of the way the concepts are used in context. A sin is wrong doing or making a mistake. I prefer the latter way of framing it. Because when you make a mistake–you either learn from it or continue making the same mistake. (There’s that famous criteria for insanity–wherein someone performs the same action again and again each time expecting a different outcome than the one that manifests.)

I don’t like the way that Xtianity situates sin as something motivated by guilt instead of a desire to learn and grow. (This manifests in other ways–where Xtians believe the world is going to end soon and do not really give more than half a shit about what they leave in their wake for subsequent generations.)

And I guess that’s my point here–I wish you all on not just today (but especially today) that you may not be afraid to trangress in favor of discovering that what you’ve been told isn’t a transgression or that it is and why it is so that you can learn and grow–so you become more instead of less.

Richard PrinceUntitled from Censored Art series (2011)

Richard Prince is the reigning king of appropriation in the art world.

He’s made a career of stealing work from other artists without permission. This can take the form of rephotographing an image–Sam Abell’s cigarette ad vs Prince’s Untitled (Cowboy). And there was the recent kerfuffle where Prince took images created by others on Instagram, more or less as is, and sold them as his own work.

I’m not someone who dismisses what Prince does entirely out of hand. I mean consider the quote that’s frequently (and inconclusively–to the best of my knowledge) attributed to Oscar Wilde about talent borrowing and genius stealing–and you have to accept Prince’s work merely as proof of concept.

And although he’s definitely an entitled white, cishet asshole, there is some conceptual merit to his interrogations. With his appropriation of Abell’s photo, he introduces notions of authorship/ownership and the relationship between process and commodification in the advertising world vs. in the art world.

Similarly, his selling of Instagram images he did not make, can be interpreted as the art industry paying exorbitant sums for work that is unoriginal/stolen or worse. Also, it presents questions about who owns the copyright for work displayed on social media sites. (I’m sure everyone reading this has gotten those concerned messages about whether or not uploading work to Flickr or FB will result in losing one’s All Rights Reserved proviso.

The problem with the Instagram business was he primarily stole work from young women–which is very different than stealing corporate art from a tobacco company.  (For example: there’s continued disagreement on the appropriateness of rape jokes in comedy–and it’s pretty much agreed that the acceptability of the jokes depends on which way you’re punching–like if you’re making the victims of rape the punchline, that’s not cool, whereas making the perpetrators of rape the punchline is punching upward, and OK.)

Prince’s career in my experience is centered around looking for easier and easier targets.

That being said: I do like the work from the series of which the above is a part. Reason being that apparently the photos are images he made himself and then placed the stickers over them. (The appropriation becomes an organic part of the whole instead of the works raison d’etre.)

Conceptually, there’s a lot to unpack. The notion of paywalls–you don’t get to see this unless you pay us, the question: does the disconnect between the work and the intervention of the sticker upon the work enhance or muddle meaning. Also: does censoring something increase merely it’s interest or does it contribute otherwise unfounded creative merit? Questions about whether or not limited resources of consumers limit societal creativity–the notion that this is a photograph infringed upon by a sticker from a DVD from one of the definitive punk bands, i.e. do we consider connections we’re not explicitly told to consider by artists, critical types. It’s also interesting that the photos are all of the type that you would see in mainstream pornography (something which is made with a profit motive) and mementos of consumption–those stickers on CDs serve no purpose other than to facilitate commerce; thus, they serve no purpose. Further, does censoring the graphic parts of the image also make the images less useful as porn, and more appropriate as art.)

They all seem like profound questions, at first. Except they are all really rather staid. It’s kitschy but also clever.

I’m reminded of seeing Junot Diaz speak earlier this year. He was asked about cultural appropriation and made a stunning observation that essentially (this is a rough paraphrase) the line dividing cultural appropriation from cultural appreciation has to do with one’s degree of personal engagement with a particular culture.

It’s like that scene in Dead Poet’s Society where Robin Williams encourages his class to all walk in a slightly different way and one of the students stays leaning up against a wall. When confronted, the student points out that he’s exercising his right not to walk. And Robin Williams thanks him for proving the point of the exercise.

Richard Prince is that kid. Only his entire career has made his actions entirely predictable. At least Censored Art reflects upon the culture with which he is most ostensibly engaged.