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Sat, 24 Aug 2019

Northeast Today

Can Art be Viewed Separately from its Artist?

Can Art be Viewed Separately from its Artist?
July 26
16:30 2019

Barkha Ayekpam

The conundrum of separating the art from the artist is a topic which is met with polarizing thoughts and opinions. The recent developments across the world has empowered womankind to speak up against atrocities, which is a clear sign of the changing time.

 

Why is art suffering?

The past few years have seen a number of movements that support gender equality and have brought to light various prominent personalities that have been accused of harassment be it physical or mental; for example the #metoo movement that brought forth many prominent faces (from all backgrounds but mostly from the entertainment industry) making serious allegations on fellow or superior counterparts. Many famous artists from various fields were also accused of harassing women, men or even children in the past 2 decades. Many people got empowered with the help of these platforms and many people got the humiliation they deserved and all in all these movements and revelations were successful in imparting some sort of justice. While many benefitted what suffered the most in these years is art itself.

Many believe that art is not only a product of the artist but an integral part of the artist itself and this leads to people boycotting the art, be it music, paintings, movies or literature. Yes, with an activist point of view obviously the one major string that binds an artist with his or her art is money and it is agreed that appreciating ones art ends up benefitting the artist but in argument to this there are people who believe that there are a numerous other people that work hard behind the success of a song, movie, book etc. by the time the art reaches us , it has the blood and sweat of various other people like the editors, publicists, visual artists, creative crew etc. ; how does one ignore that?

Prominent personalities and how allegations against them affect their art

Art

Recently a documentary on Michael Jackson ‘Leaving Neverland’ has stirred a lot of controversy since it shows the story of two minors who were allegedly sexually harassed by Michael Jackson. Now, since MJ isn’t alive himself to either confirm these allegations or deny them there is a good 50/50 percent chance that they might be true or false. But keeping in mind that he was accused of sexual assault even when he was alive, that’s not what’s important here to see , it’s the fact that yes, his phenomenal music doesn’t justify the horrendous person he might have been to a certain people in their lifetime but one cannot change the fact that his music was phenomenal and meant something to many people at different times of their life. There must be a good amount of people who needed motivation or just needed to hear the words that his songs succeeded to get through. When we as humans see paintings or watch movies or listen to music or read a poem, we feel something through the art, nothing in the world can make us unfeel these feelings and when we find out the ugly truth behind a certain person we feel another set of complex emotions which we cannot unfeel either. It is a very natural and human thing to occur and these feelings can coexist, no doubt. In Bollywood, we have a number of famous actors and directors such as Salman Khan, Sanjay Dutt, Luv Ranjan, Rajkumar Hirani, Monica Bedi, Madhur Bhandarkar, Sana Khan, Papon etc. who have been accused of crimes related to drugs, harassment , terrorism etc. some of them get away with bails, some of them serve their time , some of them have just become inactive, and some of course denied allegations. People still love some of these fine artists while some boycotting the others.

Opinions on whether it is okay or not to judge art on the basis of the artist

According to some critiques, it is evident that judgement of art on the basis of artists can be very selfishly and conveniently used; in the sense that people tend to defend art that is close to their heart but criticize the others simply because it didn’t mean as much. It is very subjective again.

“Great poetry [for Eliot] was when the poet managed to eradicate all traces of the individual self from the poem he was writing,” Jonathan Swift explains. “And just as this was an ideal for the poet, it was also a way for readers to evaluate the poem at hand — not by looking for traces of the author’s life, and not looking for what the author might have intended, but instead seeing it as self-contained and self-referential and separate from the world.”  Comparing an artist’s art in context to the artist’s victim is quite impossible because it would be like comparing cars to children. It just doesn’t make sense.

What I, as a spectator of art feel

In my humble opinion, I feel that it is not okay to excuse one’s crimes on the basis of their art. Punishment of the person is better than the punishment given to pure art that makes us feel. Vincent Van Gogh wasn’t a good man but his art is still one of the most exquisite and best works in his field. That fact won’t change. When Uma Thurman suddenly reveals a mistake director Quentin Tarantino made regarding her life, Quentin Tarantino as a person doesn’t suffer, he wasn’t booked for this and the other offensive statements that he passed but his movies end up suffering and these movies mean something to all the other people that went behind the production. I’m not very sure if many of these people who quit appreciating great art because of the artist would appreciate below average art again on the basis of what good the artist has done. There is a yin and a yang to every one of us but whatever the case, one cannot neglect that there is a lot of hard work that goes onto producing art and when all is said and done, people simply cannot deny hard work its appreciation. How we feel about art has never been rational but there is a good, considerable amount of grey area regarding this matter but for me there is definitely a thin line between art and its artist.

Art

(An aspiring film-maker, the author is a Journalism and Mass Comm. student from Royal Global University. She is also a Manipur Idol finalist. Her other interests are acting and painting.)

barkha

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