In the Arts section of today’s New York Times, there is a discussion about the shock value of art. Roberta Smith, co-chief art critic for the Times, cites the “Holy Virgin Mary” portrait that was displayed at the Brooklyn Museum of Art in 1999 as one that offended “the tender sensibilities” of some people. She also says that the art, which she notes featured elephant dung on Our Blessed Mother, was “agitated by the Catholic League, Mayor Giuliani and others who never laid eyes on it.”
Would homosexuals be guilty of allowing their “tender sensibilities” to skew their thinking if they exploded in anger over an artistic display depicting them as slave masters sodomizing African Americans? Would Jews be guilty of allowing their “tender sensibilities” to cloud their thinking if they objected to art portraying them as Nazi sympathizers?
Muslim sensibilities are not only quite tender, they are respected by the New York Times. That is why the Times refuses to show a still from the recent anti-Islam movie. It also explains why the Times refuses to reprint the Danish cartoons. Perversely, in a column about these cartoons in 2006, the Times decided not to insult Muslims, but it did decide to reprint the dung-on-the-Virgin Mary “art.” Indeed, it did so again today!
Smith is wrong on the facts. I did see the exhibit, but what I saw was not exactly what she describes: she forgot to mention the pictures of vaginas and anuses that were shown alongside the excrement on the Virgin Mary.
Tonight, at 5:30 p.m., I will hold a press conference outside the gallery which is hosting “Piss Christ” at 37 W. 57th Street: my “tender sensibilities” are agitating me once again.