I am not sure I should be writing about this at this point in time (considering all the Michael Jackson stuff properly coming out and also getting some unfavorable reactions on Iza Pavlina’s project I mentioned before), however, the issue needs to be raised and talked about.
Saying that, I have to point out that I DO NOT defend pedophilia and I feel it is one of the worst crimes that can be commited!!
But here goes:
Around two years ago, art world was completely shook by the act of pedophilia amidst their own….
The incident happened during the 35th Panorama of Brazilian Art, when an artist/dancer Wagner Schwartz exposed himself to a four year old girl.
At least that is how the outraged public majority of right-wingers explained the act, to which also the physical violence followed. And I have to note that none of those people were actually present at the moment of performance but only saw the photographs on social media…
But what actually happened? Schwartz’s performance La Bête ‘involved inviting viewers to maneuver his unclothed body, and the preschooler duly prodded the artist as he lay face-up on a pedestal. (Her mother accompanied her, in an effort to demonstrate that this was okay.) The four-year old crawled around at a distance from the supine artist and pulled one of his fingers as though to test whether he was asleep—or maybe dead. She then made her way down to his feet, while the girl’s mother touched one of Schwartz’s shins. Finally, the girl put both of her hands on Schwartz’s other shin, then wiggled his foot—maintaining eye contact with her mom—before crawling away.’
Ok, so this was a common piece of body art performance (where nakedness as a blank canvas is something completely regular and definitely not controversial), which included participatory action. ‘Wagner Schwartz is reactivating the famous figure of the Bicho (or “Beast”), the adjustable metal sculpture which the Brazilian artist Lygia Clark produced as a series in the early 1960s.
The performer begins by manipulating a plastic replica of the original object, and playing with its system of hinges, before inviting the audience to do likewise, this time with a different kind of beast: his own naked body. Over and above a homage to this visual artist and the addition of Neo-Concretism to the history of body art, The Beast brings about a shift between two types of plasticity (in art / life) so as to examine the intimacy of this reified body, which thus becomes as instrumental as one of Clark’s Bichos. In this performance, Wagner Schwartz extends his reflection on the relationship with the Other, and the Outsider, by organising a resolutely head-on encounter with the public, under the sign of tactility.’
Nothing out of the ordinary. Except that at this one performance, a child was present….
I don’t even know where to start with my opinions on that. I think I could actually write a thesis…
Therefore, I will just pose some questions:
- This reminds me of my undergrad thesis that dealt with the issue of body art performances in galleries vs. public outdoor spaces and the unsuspected passers-by. But here, this was a performance inside an art institution and the mother made a conscious choice to include her daughter in the ‘producing of an art piece’. Is that controversial? Ok, maybe debatable at least. However, there was an indication at the entrance (‘The room was properly signaled on the content of the presentation, including artistic nudity, following the procedure regularly adopted by the institution to inform visitors about sensitive issues.’) and the mother judged it fit for the daughter to participate.
- Let’s look at the context again. It was a performance art piece. So, is it consciously connectable to exhibitionists/flashers and is that what was going on there? Or is there a huge difference between a man doing that on purpose for his own pleasure and a legitimate art piece? Here, a naked man should be understood as an artistic medium and not an erotic figure.
- Am I a bit biased, because I was raised amongst naked bodies? Hah, I do know how this sounds, however, I have been going to a nudist camp since I was a baby. I do admit there was not any ‘touching’ involved (that would be a completelly other issue), but I’ve seen my fair share of nakedness. So, can everyone be sort of accused of pedophilia, because they were exposing themselves in front of children (and, most importantly, not in the name of artistic nudity)?
Talking about hysterical….
What is wrong with the world?? In my opinion, this hopeless spreading of forceful morality has just gone too far….
The context, people, the context!!!!
‘Art is a fundamental source of discussion, reflection, questioning, confrontation when necessary and , finally, understanding. Conservatism does not fit into contemporary artistic making.’
LIST OF PHOTOGRAPHS:
- featured image: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Jnv7fZ9oQs ⌈Downloaded: 19 November 2018⌋.
- Trevor Patt: Lygia Clark, Bicho, 1962; https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/global-culture/identity-body/identity-body-europe/a/lygia-clark-bicho ⌈Downloaded: 13 March 2019⌋.
- http://www.infoartsp.com.br/noticias/entenda-a-polemica-da-performance-de-wagner-schwartz-no-mam/ ⌈Downloaded: 13 March 2019⌋.