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216 Nipples Later

A Controversy Over Censorship—or Harassment?—at Cornish

216 Nipples Later

Courtesy of the artist

A DETAIL FROM THE PRINT Mamelles by Ben Beres.

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Ben Beres made the print you see above. It's 108 names of women artists in Seattle, each one with a pair of breasts. The breasts are basically, but not exactly, the same. None of the women were asked to participate or model; their names instead form a relatively comprehensive list of women artists who are active and well-known in the city. The artist Sharon Arnold curated an all-women show several months ago at Roq La Rue Gallery and "only got in 40 [women]. He did better than I did," she said.

Arnold selected Beres's print to be part of another group show, this time of all men. It's at Cornish, it's called Ils Disent, and it's a series of responses by male artists to the art and issues raised in Elles, the current exhibition of work by women artists at Seattle Art Museum. To promote Ils Disent, last week Arnold posted a detail of Beres's print to her Facebook page.

The following afternoon—Election Day—Arnold wrote on Facebook that the piece had been pulled from the show. She did not say why. She explained several hours later in a phone conversation: Two Cornish staffers, both of them among the 108 artists named in Beres's piece, had complained about having the print on display in their workplace. (The exhibition was not to take place in the basement gallery, where Susan Robb is having a solo exhibition, but in the building's lobby.) Beres also works at Cornish, teaching printmaking. At least one of the two women complained of a hostile work environment and asked for the print to be removed. Their identities and the details of their complaints have been kept confidential, and they have declined to be interviewed.

"I'm trying to figure out several things," Arnold said that evening. "One is that, obviously, if this were Microsoft, yeah, it would have to be pulled, but this is an art school. Ultimately, I don't really think it's right that the piece isn't in the show."

Sending a signal of solidarity, Arnold posted her segment of Beres's print—breasts with her name attached—as her profile picture on Facebook. There, a big discussion was under way. Some of it was about the fact that so-and-so's breasts were actually bigger than that, ha-ha. Most people were serious. Many of the women talked about whether they do, or should, want to be part of the piece. And if they do, whether they feel ashamed for wanting the attention. People asked what Beres intended, discussed whether censorship is worse than sexual harassment, whether the sagginess in the sketched breasts is empowering because it reflects real bodies rather than idealized ones, whether the attention-grabbing print raises the question of the general scarcity of recognition in Seattle whether you're a male or a female artist (as opposed to somewhere like, say, New York).

The most vituperative criticisms were reserved for Cornish. "Fuck Cornish," a commenter on Slog, The Stranger's blog, wrote.

"Art is supposed to be open to interpretation," wrote Seattle artist Shaun Kardinal, "and Cornish has decided to say, 'No, this is what it is.' And that's bullshit."

By the time the show opened Thursday night, a backlash was in full effect. A label on the gallery wall indicating the piece was removed—like Arnold's original Facebook post about the removal—lacks any mention of sexual harassment. Instead, it only describes "significant issues of censorship."

But word had begun to get out. Soon, anger turned directly toward the two women who complained. If those women had really wanted to be brave, they should have stood in front of Beres's print on the wall with a sign declaring they were not defeated, one wrote.

Michael Schorr, onetime Death Cab for Cutie drummer, wrote, "The funny thing is that this has more to do with people being pussies than it has to do with their tits."

Curator Arnold "liked" Schorr's comment on Facebook. Later, she explained over e-mail that Schorr is a close friend and she knows him to be "a very liberal progressive man who is very loudly on the side of women's rights."

Beres declined to offer an explanation of intentions or a reaction to the controversy, preferring instead to let the work do its work.

Over e-mail, he described the process of making the piece. The first names he came up with were artist friends; he added more names by searching Facebook and local gallery rosters. Their placement in the grid was random. He freehanded the breast cartoons and etched the names in reverse in order to make the print legible.

He brought the censored print to The Stranger's offices, and in person, the print has a warm, worn look that diverges from the repetitive format of the grid; he explained the plate was old and has been used many times. Each set of name and breasts is about the size of a thumbprint. The whole grid is 9 by 12 inches. Beres made mistakes: He spelled a few names wrong, drew one "z" backward. The errors emphasize his hand and presence, the fact of him almost caressing each represented person, which might be creepy or might be welcome, depending on who you are.

Asked if he considers himself a feminist, Beres responded, "Of course I am. I'd like to quote a friend who said, 'Anyone who has common sense these days is a feminist. It's about human decency.'"

Arnold, the show's curator, also describes herself as a feminist.

Of course, calling yourself a feminist is easy; what matters is how you act it out (obviously). So: We are all feminists here. Check. Next question: What does a feminist do?

How about making room for the possibility that other people feel differently than you do, and that they might be right, too?

"Throughout the years of my being here in Seattle, there's not really been any conversation about male privilege on the part of male artists," says artist Mandy Greer in a phone conversation. She has mixed feelings about Beres's print—she's one of the 108. "It really was an almost completely laid bare example of male privilege. I felt like Ben Beres was really intentionally exercising it. Like he was aware of it, and he is saying, 'Look, this is what I get to do as a man. I get to portray you like this without asking.'"

And how about allowing yourself to think in complicated ways? Greer kept fleshing out her response, turning unexpected corners.

"It made me think of the 15-year-old girl who committed suicide recently after a man sent a picture of her breasts around on Facebook," Greer continued. "As a feminist, I'd like to be seen as a whole person, but we're just not there yet. Our bodies have been literal battlegrounds. I don't feel okay with saying, 'Well, I'm okay with it, so you should be, too.' I saw someone comment [on Beres's print] on Facebook, 'Well, I'm a victim of rape and I'm still okay with this image,' and it's like, well, yeah, everybody digests that experience in a different way. And statistically speaking, if you're going to look at an image of 100 women, 33 of them have been sexually assaulted—so there's going to be a lot of variety of reactions among the women pictured. I don't feel okay telling anybody how they should react to this."

And sometimes I think a little old- fashioned calling-out is in order.

To "pussy"-insult-slinger Michael Schorr and any other "very liberal progressive men very loudly on the side of women's rights": Fuck you for publicly yelling hate speech at women you don't even know. (Pussy = weakness = hate speech.)

Moving on.

While this one piece by a dude should not steal a season about women in art, Beresgate is presenting a chance for conversation across gender about gender in the art world. When I saw Beres's print, what came first to mind was my series on Slog "Good Job Whatshertits," which is my way of singling out female artists for attention while also pointing out the objectification that comes with being a female artist in the first place. The title is a cynical reflection of the reality of the way female artists are treated, but one I intend as a weapon by writing extensively (not reductively) about each artist.

Of course, different phrases mean different things when they come out of different mouths. By reducing women to their names and their breasts, Beres is reproducing the lamer, creepier effects of focusing on art by women—and calling attention to it—when the ultimate goal of feminism is the full humanization of all genders.

Like "feminist," "censorship" has to be interpreted in context. Censorship really has two effects: symbolic and actual suppression of material. Since Beres's print became a cause célèbre after it was censored, it is not being actually suppressed, only more widely circulated. It probably will eventually be displayed. Maybe it will be a successful sales item. ("That thought gives me the creeps," says Paul Margolis, another Seattle artist, and Mandy Greer's husband, who points out that it's hard to come forward about sexual harassment. "I have been sexually harassed on two different occasions in my workplace, and I was not comfortable or brave enough to come forward and say something about it. I simply avoided the work site where the harasser works.")

As for symbolic suppression? Beres is successful already—this Cornish show is small potatoes for him. He has formal gallery representation (formerly at Lawrimore Project, now at Davidson), which is more than most of his list of 108 have. He is part of the established, Genius Award–winning trio SuttonBeresCuller, who have been awarded a MacDowell Colony residency and won many commissions. Beres graduated from Cornish years ago. All things considered, he's doing fine.

Still, it would be nice if the work could function fully by being exhibited somewhere. Artist Nola Avienne (one of the 108) offered a compromise: "Show the print, off of Cornish property, and provide little black bars so if you are offended you can cover up your own nipples or name." (Expedient expression of one conundrum of being a woman: to cover one's nipples or one's name?)

Acts of censorship can take the body of the artwork and not only make it the center of attention, but also the thing seemingly in need of protection and defense. But does Beres's print need protection? Is it even comparable to the famous recent censorship case at the National Portrait Gallery's first-ever exhibition of artworks expressing same-sex desire, in which the needless removal of a video by David Wojnarowicz was a replaying of the homophobic abuse the artist experienced in life and death?

And yet (another corner to turn): What message does the removal of the work send to Cornish students? That's not so easily answered.

The open-endedness of art gives us the chance to consider the conflicts openly. It's easier to yell about the suppression of an art object than to talk about the objectification of actual bodies. How could it not be? Who among us doesn't have super-charged, super-mixed feelings and experiences on the subjects of objectification, intimidation, rape? This is our opportunity not to be sidetracked by what's easiest.

Discomfort is put forth by curators and artists as an important goal—art should "unsettle" people, "break" boundaries, "push" envelopes. If Cornish students are looking for lessons from this episode, they might do best by adding to the top of their reading lists Maggie Nelson's 2011 book The Art of Cruelty. It provides an invaluable, unexpected, frankly life-changing look at the violence of the metaphors that underpin our assumptions about good art—weaponized metaphors ("unsettle," "break," "push") that descend from the specific history of the avant-garde. If in order to be good, art has to break and push you—it couldn't possibly be kind to you—then the only way to make something good is through violence, through acting out tired avant-garde tactics as retrograde as any other early-20th-century politics. Nelson's book is a demonstration that other legacies are possible. (Coincidentally, Nelson is speaking with Eileen Myles at Benaroya Hall on Thursday, November 15, at 7:30 p.m.)

We might use Beres's print as a test case. What happens when the art disturbs the viewer so much that it runs up against real-world systems put in place to protect the vulnerable? If Beres intended his piece as a critique of the dehumanizing effects of women being grouped together by crude physicality, as in Elles, then on some level wouldn't he appreciate that the print's removal is an implicit empowering of the two individual women who are standing out from the other 106?

The piece reminded Seattle artist Britta Johnson of British artist Tracey Emin's 1995 installation Everyone I Have Ever Slept With. The piece was a tent with 102 patches bearing the names of those who had shared her bed (including two fetuses). At the time she made the piece, Emin was not famous yet, and her then-boyfriend, a curator, cajoled her to make bigger art in order to become more famous; the tent was her response. Journalists wrote things like "She's slept with everyone, even the curator!" The piece was bought by Charles Saatchi, the advertising mogul/alpha collector who once did work for Margaret Thatcher; Emin had publicly denounced both Thatcher and Saatchi, and now this piece was in his possession. In 2004, it was destroyed in a London warehouse fire where it was being stored. Emin has refused to re-create it.

"Because of her gender and place, she's much more vulnerable in that piece than Ben is in his—in a way, her situation is more like that of the named women, or at least those who might enjoy the validation," Johnson wrote in an e-mail. "In Tracey's, as a viewer you have to decide whether or not you assume her sexual self was part of her climbing, and what your decision about that says about you, and whether it's at all damaging to the named men..."

Johnson is a fascinating and rising Seattle artist. I'd asked her what she thought of the print, which is why she responded to it at all. She didn't even know that she is one of the 108—and she didn't ask. After pressing send on her e-mail, making her nuanced voice heard, she returned to her studio, where she'd been all along. recommended

This article has been updated since its original publication.

 

Comments (137) RSS

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1
I don't think these breasts would be helped by malt liquor or cocaine... but the giant argument this is sure to start might!

Weeeeeee!
Posted by Anonymous Commenter on November 14, 2012 at 9:52 AM · Report this
2
Artfight!

Weeeeeee!
Posted by Anonymous Commenter on November 14, 2012 at 9:53 AM · Report this
3
censorship can have lengthy implications and energy. I would like to see this work in a gallery or other forum, and make up my own mind. I was curator in a homophobic art debacle a bit ago on Vashon Island, purportedly a bastion of open-mindedness, and still carry a bit of "recognition" on the part of the paranoid on this rock who remember and still wish I would disappear. Minority, yes, but ever present. Another example of others wanting the power to help you make up YOUR own mind....I would like the print to stay, and be part of the discussion.
Posted by Jack Strubbe on November 14, 2012 at 10:16 AM · Report this
4
Yes! Yes, we should subdue feminism by removing artwork that raises its questions. Let's put women's issues back in the closet where no one will see them or talk about them ever again!

But seriously, the people who objected to this art should be fired--not because they have opinions, but because they don't understand the basic tenets of art. Art is not supposed to just be pretty wall decoration, clothed and buttoned up and perfectly in line with your smug political correctness.

Sometimes art offends you, and that is the point.
Posted by lattelibrul on November 14, 2012 at 10:51 AM · Report this
5
Its really not a deep philosophical problem. How hard is it to understand why a woman wouldn't want a caricature of her breasts and her name on a wall in the place that she works. Pretending that its difficult to understand makes one a sexist jerk, or maybe just a plain old jerk. Its called manners.
Posted by soggydan on November 14, 2012 at 10:53 AM · Report this
6
Yes! Yes, we should subdue feminism by removing artwork that raises its questions. Let's put women's issues back in the closet where no one will see them or talk about them ever again!

But seriously, the people who objected to this art should be fired--not because they have opinions, but because they don't understand the basic tenets of art. Art is not supposed to just be pretty wall decoration, clothed and buttoned up and perfectly in line with your smug political correctness.

Sometimes art offends you, and that is the point.
Posted by lattelibrul on November 14, 2012 at 10:54 AM · Report this
7
If Beres had tried to accurately describe in line the shape/size/etc of each woman's breasts then there would be a quite different discussion. His use of uniform breast size/shape/etc leads us to believe that he knew exactly what he was doing.

It would be a shame if people weren't making such a big deal out of this.

Does this piece promote rumors? Does it tarnish reputations? I don't need Cornish to ensure that women are greater than the sum of their parts. This is where censorship speaks louder than the thing which it tries to censor. I need art to raise questions about subjects like feminism and racism and violence and the goings on in my city (art-wise or other).

What's more of a slippery slope?- Quantifying these women by Beres's goofy print, or Cornish absolving the implications by censoring it? It's a Censorship Paradox.
Posted by aaron bagley on November 14, 2012 at 11:31 AM · Report this
8
If Beres had tried to accurately describe in line the shape/size/etc of each woman's breasts then there would be a quite different discussion. His use of uniform breast size/shape/etc leads us to believe that he knew exactly what he was doing.

It would be a shame if people weren't making such a big deal out of this.

Does this piece promote rumors? Does it tarnish reputations? I don't need Cornish to ensure that women are greater than the sum of their parts. This is where censorship speaks louder than the thing which it tries to censor. I need art to raise questions about subjects like feminism and racism and violence and the goings on in my city (art-wise or other).

What's more of a slippery slope?- Quantifying these women by Beres's goofy print, or Cornish absolving the implications by censoring it? It's a Censorship Paradox.
Posted by aaron bagley on November 14, 2012 at 11:37 AM · Report this
shauniqua 9
for the record, i'm not in the show. i was invited, but declined because i found the main premise of a show with all men to be laughable (having made the joke before: "when will men get a chance to do a show together?!") and the details to be far too blurry to even consider (is the *show* a curated response to Elles? are the individual works made *in* response--to a show that hadn't even opened yet? or is it about feminine *practices* in art, and what the fuck does that even mean?). without a clear idea of what the hell i was being invited to, i stayed away.

after a week of discussing all the finer points of content and context, censorship and harassment, victim blaming and myriad other moral outcry, my opinion on the matter of ben's smart print and it's removal from an art school remains: it's bullshit.
Posted by shauniqua http://www.shaunkardinal.com on November 14, 2012 at 11:59 AM · Report this
CharlesF 10
Yeah this "Ben Beres" guy is just being a plain old jerk. He is taking real people with great accomplishments and reducing them to 1 body part. This isn't art, it's just trolling disguised as art.
Posted by CharlesF on November 14, 2012 at 12:02 PM · Report this
CharlesF 11
I'd like to add that I really dislike this whole recent trend of "I am going to intentionally do something to piss people off and call it art" that's been everywhere. The abortion artist person, the guy taking pictures of people in Apple stores without their permission, and now this.

If you're an artist, why not try intentionally making something that is beautiful? If you want to be a troll, just go on the internet.
Posted by CharlesF on November 14, 2012 at 12:09 PM · Report this
shauniqua 12
CharlesF- the reduction of which you speak is Ben's comment on the very basic separation of sexes that continues into Elles. it is not an attack. clearly. also it is art. that's just as Ann as the nose on plain's face.
Posted by shauniqua http://www.shaunkardinal.com on November 14, 2012 at 12:20 PM · Report this
CharlesF 13
@12: I don't agree. I would categorize it instead as a visual essay or a philosophical essay or statement. He is not creating a beautiful artifact, he is trying to make a point about feminism as it relates to visual artists (in a way that I just so happen to find offensive).
Posted by CharlesF on November 14, 2012 at 12:25 PM · Report this
14
@4/@6 -- your arrogance is astounding. The women who objected to having the piece in their workplace (whether you want to call it censorship, sexual harassment, or both) should be fired for not "understanding art"? Can you be any more patronizing or irrational?

The more this story unfolds the more I think Cornish did the right thing. There's a sort of mob mentality that's honestly way creepier than the breasts or depictions. That the women who came forward and requested the piece be removed from their workplace, have people like @4 calling for their termination, and other insults thrown at them on FB threads? Thanks Jen for calling that dude out publicly. Use of the word "pussy" in that sort of derogatory sense = semantics rooted in violence.

I still ask why artists I know in other cities don't have these sorts of things ever erupting/going viral in online networks etc. I'm referring to the excessive tagging and obsessive reinforcing, publishing city-wide who's who lists.. Honestly this sort of thing just perpetuates Seattle's isolation from broader art communities and/or others who may have something to offer. Recalling specifically past articles re: Seattle artists not represented at the Whitney et al...
Posted by ellie_dee on November 14, 2012 at 12:31 PM · Report this
shauniqua 15
CharlesF- i'll be the first to agree with you about the slippery slope that is commentary in art, but to say that a visual essay is *not* art is a silly as being the curator who thinks art *should* be challenging... a challenging visual essay is a viable option for artistic expression, and the piece rendered is one of art. it's 2012- everything is art, nothing is art, blah blah blah...
Posted by shauniqua http://www.shaunkardinal.com on November 14, 2012 at 12:37 PM · Report this
sharonArnold 16
I'd like to interject that 8 out of the 10 artists responded directly to Elles, and have made beautiful work in doing so. I encourage everyone to see Ils Disent for themselves, because I feel it is important to the conversation to include all voices. In a lovely turnaround of influence, each of these men respond to the women artists who have shaped and inspired them. I personally cannot abide a future where the pendulum is forever swinging from one extreme to the other. Feminism is indeed a woman's issue, but it is a human problem. Going forward, voices need to speak and be heard, together. This show is an attempt to address that desire.

For the complexities of my response as not only an artist and a curator, but as a fellow woman and human being, I encourage all of you to read my comments on the previous SLOG entry about this issue. It has been no easy task to deal with this matter, and Facebook is an unreliable and incomplete measure of any one response.

http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archive…
Posted by sharonArnold http://lengthbywidthbyheight.com on November 14, 2012 at 12:55 PM · Report this
17
Shaun @9: Thanks for letting me know you're not in the show, and I put in a correction; it should be reflected soon.
Posted by Jen Graves on November 14, 2012 at 1:12 PM · Report this
18
Wait- why are we talking about censorship and not consent?
Posted by tollenetra on November 14, 2012 at 1:26 PM · Report this
34x42 19
my alma matter has done all sorts of stupid shit, this is just another item on that list.

is mrs.greer aware that she's the archetypal anal art chick?
Posted by 34x42 on November 14, 2012 at 1:42 PM · Report this
20
Pretty simple case to me! Did the women give permission to the artist for him to use their names? If not, any person whose name is included in the art piece has a right to censor it. It doesn't matter if the names were matched to pictures of beautiful breasts, cocks,butts, faces or cartoon characters.
Posted by Dino Debbie on November 14, 2012 at 1:48 PM · Report this
21
Pretty simple case to me! Did the women give the artist permission to use their names? If not, any woman whose name is included has a right to censor the art piece. It doesn't matter if the pictures are of breasts, cocks, faces, cartoon characteristics.

How is there even a discussion about this??
Posted by Dino Debbie on November 14, 2012 at 1:52 PM · Report this
22
What if I illustrated Ben Beres enjoying sex with a goat? Would it be okay with him or anyone else if I put it in the lobby of his school or workplace?
Posted by Justaskin on November 14, 2012 at 1:57 PM · Report this
23
Art, yes. But nasty art. I wonder what the censorship outrage would be if a woman artist produced a piece with actual mens' names with a drawing of a penis below each name. A limp penis, to echo the metaphor of sagging breasts.
Posted by sarah70 on November 14, 2012 at 2:06 PM · Report this
24
I'd like to try and reiterate, expanded on and clarify some points I've made before on this issue. To me, this issue is barely about the content of the print by Ben Beres. Boobs or no boobs, the presence of the print in the 3rd floor lobby gallery mentioned staff and faculty by name in a manner they were not comfortable with. It is not up to me (or anyone else) to determine whether or not someone should or shouldn't take offense. Cornish, as an employer and institution, has a duty to offer a safe work environment for employees that respects their personal boundaries, without judgement. Same for students. If a student hangs artwork on campus that mentions another student in an unfavorable or offensive way, Cornish has a responsibility to protect that student. In my opinion, the responsibility to protect one person trumps the right for another to insult. Again, without judgement towards the insulted. To me, this is the issue. I appreciate Jen's questioning "that the print's removal is an implicit empowering of the two individual women who are standing out from the other 106?". Some will call it 'censorship' all the live-long day. Maybe so, but it's also something else. Censorship is an easy answer to a simple question. The answers to some of the more complex (and important) questions are, perhaps, not as straight-forward.
Cable Griffith, Curator
Cornish College of the Arts
Posted by cablegriffith on November 14, 2012 at 2:09 PM · Report this
25
To those complaining that Cornish committed censorship: Their only other choice was to tell these two female employees, "You don't want cartoons of your breasts on the wall in your workplace? Tough shit." Besides for being horribly insensitive it would violate laws against sexual harrassment. How would these women so outraged over "censorship" feel if their employer reacted that way if they had issues with sexist, racist, or homophobic things in the workplace? The outcry among women over this shows the hypocrasy of some feminists. They want for themselves a workplace free of anything that makes them uncomfortable yet turn around and bash these 2 women for not wanting caratures of their boobs hanging on the wall of where they work. You guys are jerks. What if Ben had made a print that glamorized rape or depicted Cornish professors who were "people of color" or gay in a way that seems racist or homophobic to some of the people depicted? Would all of you be defending that and telling the offended employees to get over it?
Posted by Allison D. on November 14, 2012 at 2:19 PM · Report this
26
@19 So it's ok for everyone *else* involved to run endless circles around this?
Posted by ellie_dee on November 14, 2012 at 2:20 PM · Report this
34x42 27
@26, this is some nonsense:
"It really was an almost completely laid bare example of male privilege. I felt like Ben Beres was really intentionally exercising it. Like he was aware of it, and he is saying, 'Look, this is what I get to do as a man. I get to portray you like this without asking.'"

many being quoted sound worse than they could, but this gal just steals the show with her soapbox hyperbole.
Posted by 34x42 on November 14, 2012 at 2:34 PM · Report this
28
Thank you @21. I had the same thought.

I've been quite troubled by the discussion since last week and attempted to write out my thoughts but was too angry at the time.

I cannot believe how people have made this controversy out to be more complicated than it is. But then again, censorship is a sexy topic, n'est pas?

It is simple. The women did not consent to having their names used, and if someone did not want their own name up on that piece, well…no is no. Remember the phrase?

No means no.

Two women laid down a boundary. We do not need to know the reasons why. And instead of celebrating the idea that they took a stand regarding their personal well being, in the name of free speech and art they are being called pussy and the conversation simply zones in on censorship of boobs or on whether or not there should be an all male response to the Elles exhibit. Good grief.

I do think Ben Beres created a brilliant piece. I also strongly believe freedom of expression comes with responsibility. As humans, we will bump up against each other simply by living. Sometimes we just step over boundaries. It happens. And I honestly believe that Beres meant no harm to the women he listed, yet in a way, was paying homage. But when someone complained (and the reason does not matter) about having their names used, that request needs to be honored. Otherwise those uncomfortable with their names on the piece are in some fashion getting violated simply by being strong enough to lay down a boundary.

And the public's response to the controversy is a perfect example of how all of us have the capacity to violate by whitewashing the request of the two women involved.

Over the weekend I imagined Ben taking the piece and simply wiping out the two names and renaming the boobs with "anonymous", which is definitely a historical component of women's art. That way he could still hang the work, and the women would also be comfortable.
More...
Posted by Marie on November 14, 2012 at 2:47 PM · Report this
29
@16 - What pendulum are you speaking of, specifically, that you cannot abide by?
Posted by barfy cute on November 14, 2012 at 2:52 PM · Report this
30
Good intentions from Beres to Arnold notwithstanding, and Art doing what it does… of course it got pulled!

If I were to post, let's see... realistic tiny li'l dicks with *actual people's names* next to 'em, & not check in those people first… well, I'm sure they'd all be fine with it, right?
Posted by moo http://doitforthegirls.com/ on November 14, 2012 at 3:05 PM · Report this
shauniqua 31
Any time someone responds with "the opposite of breasts is penises" is forgetting that breasts are sexualized, not sex organs. The opposite of this piece, if we are reducing this to women:men (christ! Again?!) would simply be nippled pecs.
Posted by shauniqua http://www.shaunkardinal.com on November 14, 2012 at 3:19 PM · Report this
mahalie 32
This article is too long to read. But in short: there's a women-only show at SAM. Then a Cornish show men-only response to said women's only show. I'd say he nailed the brief. Exclusionary / reductive show themes === reductive art. Brilliant actually. Ben is a class A A hole, but that has nothing to do with this art piece ;)
Posted by mahalie on November 14, 2012 at 3:21 PM · Report this
33
The problem to me is simply that the artist (a perfect gentleman, by the way) doesn't fully understand the implications of the work he has created. It is the same age-old problem of men making art about women. If he had somehow managed to implicate his artistic self (with its default male identity) in the reductiveness of its vision the piece might have been successful. But seeing his oeuvre over the years - with its emphasis on Duchampian fart-jokes - makes me think he's not quite up to the task.
Posted by jim.demetre@gmail.com on November 14, 2012 at 4:30 PM · Report this
34
I'm sorry, but I can't muster up any sympathy for that poor, privileged white male. He represented women in an objectifying, dehumanizing way without their permission.

It all would have been okay (fun, even) if he had given a damn about their consent, but tellingly, he didn't. It isn't commentary on jack shit, it's an attack.
Posted by humpitydumpity on November 14, 2012 at 4:41 PM · Report this
35
Great article.

Thank you especially for this:

"Of course, calling yourself a feminist is easy; what matters is how you act it out (obviously). So: We are all feminists here. Check. Next question: What does a feminist do?"

Posted by susannabluhm http://susanna-bluhm.com on November 14, 2012 at 4:44 PM · Report this
36
@34 The piece has various issues but in order to be an attack I wonder if there has to be an actual intent to objectify or dehumanize. From all accounts it sounds like there wasn't one. Doesn't diminish the right of those represented to their voice.

I wonder how, or if, this piece would have been different if it depicted 108 historically famous female artists. The same questions about gender and representation would stand but the focus would not have been so close to home, would not have entered the individual's specific workplace. Would it have presented as more of, or less of an objectification and/or commentary on Elles?
Posted by ellie_dee on November 14, 2012 at 5:34 PM · Report this
dj 37
This wall of boob and text just makes me miss all the absolutely fantastic women that supported and guided my own art practice. This print is charged with names that work like spells on me, seriously talented and determined women. I am filled with love and appreciation at seeing the piece. Doesn't resolve it's reception in a broader sense and I would have to dwell on the idea of my name and a cartoon weiner likeness being used in a similar manner, AND ESPECIALLY IF THE ARTIST TROLLED MY NAME FROM A LIST WITHOUT KNOWING ME, but I guess that is a possible risk one takes when they HAVE an audience. I think I would have more issue with my name and work described incorrectly (materially or its intentions which has and happens all the time online) than I would with a bathroom stall tag that pushes me into a few pen strokes. Anyways, miss you ladies ;)
Posted by dj http://www.derrickjefferies.com on November 14, 2012 at 5:50 PM · Report this
dj 38
Oh yeah, it's Derrick Jefferies btw.
Posted by dj http://www.derrickjefferies.com on November 14, 2012 at 5:51 PM · Report this
CATSPAW666 39

As a Man Artist, I cannot imagine making a piece like this- its just too creepy and adolescent. I realize artists get rich and famous by being creepy and adolescent- Chris Burden, Jeff Koons, et al, but really- how could you ever talk to a woman after you drew cartoon tits and put her name on em?
I sure couldnt.

More to the point, WHY would any of these artists ever talk to Ben Beres again? I mean, how can this not hover over any interchange?

I dont know Ben, maybe he is a really sweet, smart, cool guy- but I am sorry, if I was a woman, and he drew tits and put my name on em, I would consider him one step above, or maybe sideways from, a stalker.

Posted by CATSPAW666 on November 14, 2012 at 7:54 PM · Report this
40
Another possibility no one will like.

Graves says little about the art in Elles, which is odd as the Ils Disent show is supposed to consist of responses to it. Elles includes work in which artists with conventionally attractive (to the average male viewer, imho) bodies appear naked. Perhaps the bodies rather than the content of those works were what moved Beres the most, so he made a piece that presented many local female artists in that context as a comment on what he felt was a strength (or a weakness) of Elles. That is, he made a shorthand local version of it, or reviewed it in a piece of his own. His piece would then be about Elles, as called for by the curator, not about the artists whose names appear in the print.
Posted by ashworth on November 14, 2012 at 8:01 PM · Report this
41
Did I miss any mention of Judy Chicago's "Dinner Party" in this discussion?
Posted by Lauri Chambers on November 14, 2012 at 8:50 PM · Report this
geoff teardrop 42
While I detest using the word in a derogatory manner, I must say no one who has played in Death Cab For Cutie has any authority to use the word "pussy"
Posted by geoff teardrop http://twitter.com/wipess on November 14, 2012 at 8:51 PM · Report this
43
Judy Chicago. Dinner Party. Discuss please.
Posted by Lauri Chambers on November 14, 2012 at 8:57 PM · Report this
44
The bottom line is, If I showed up to work one day and there was a picture of a dick on the wall with my name under it, I would say "What the fuck is this?" It is my legal right to have my request for the piece to be removed honored.

That is the law. The problem and the reason the work was censored was the context of the piece and how it was shown in the workplace. It was not censored because of its content.

Honor the workplace. Wholeheartedly support and stand behind these two women for exercising their civil legal right to a safe and harassment free workplace.
Posted by Paul Margolis on November 14, 2012 at 9:53 PM · Report this
sharonArnold 45
If anyone thinks that I am in any way bigoted, racist, sexist, anti-Feminist, or unsympathetic to the women who were adversely affected by the presence of the piece in their workplace; they are not paying attention to what I am saying. Not only in response to the SLOG post and the Stranger article, but in the scope of my career. If Feminists need to demonstrate their beliefs through their work, I believe I have done so repeatedly, not only in my public advocacy of women's equality but in my curatorial practice, my writing, lectures I have given, and papers I have written.

I feel extremely misrepresented by this article on this issue - at the end of the day, how could I possibly want to infringe on the comfort of the women who felt harassed by this piece? Of course I could not. As a woman, I have stated publicly and privately, I understand the choice that Cornish has made. This issue is/has been incredibly complex. At the end of the day, let's not forget that there is an entire show to see outside of Ben Beres' piece. I'd love for you all to see it. Whether or not you agree with the premise of the show is of no interest; whether or not you have something to talk about after you see it, is.
Posted by sharonArnold http://lengthbywidthbyheight.com on November 14, 2012 at 10:00 PM · Report this
46
Very, very good article Jen.

It is true that anger so often is directed at the women in such a controversy because it is societally easier and safer to direct it at the party with less power in the system as is evidenced by the Horse's Ass who actually imagines that one should be fired for pointing out that they would rather not be publicly ostracized and degraded in their workplace. After all, they are women and should be used to humiliation. Clearly they don't "understand" art (and you do?)

I am not sure it matters what Ben's intent is ultimately however because the image has its impact independent of his intention. If he is lampooning a particular attitude the effect is still the same. He repeats and strengthens degrading messages.

Like Archie Bunker's TV comments on All in the Family back in the 70's, the script may have targeted the racist comments of a bigot as a source of humor, in the end it just repeats his racism in a powerful forum that strengthens and spreads it.

It's impact on the students, remains negative and it legitimizes that kind of treatment of Cornish employees and women in general in their eyes.

This whole thing is sophomoric and really should not get this much attention except that some of the butthead things people are saying must not stand unaddressed. Not really much of a curatorial statement here except one more opportunity for Ms. Arnold to get attention and ingratiate herself in the great favor bank in in the sky in hopes of some future withdrawal.

I can't help but wonder why this curator, herself an artist of some potential, would waste her time with this when she could be working in her own studio? Women are no longer relegated to being salon hostesses promoting and discussing the work of men, so wouldn't it make more sense to make something of your own instead of endorsing this horseshit?
More...
Posted by hitchcock on November 14, 2012 at 10:01 PM · Report this
47
Why so testy?

I think one point the article makes is that the culture itself presumes a particular posture in all this. Saying you are a feminist does not make you one If you fail to question the presumption of the male viewing subject and the inherent violence and power politics of language.
P
If Beres, and how much of a "genius' can he be based on this, puts this image out there based on a cursory web surf as if he is somehow above all that man stuff casting a blind unconsidered eye to the fact that here he is, a "genius" male artist with a permanent fill time gig recognition gallery etc. Putting naughty scrawls of his coworkers breasts up at his place of work he is no feminist that is for sure. The curator could not be too aware of the lense of the culture and how it plays a part in her choices
Posted by hitchcock on November 14, 2012 at 10:33 PM · Report this
48
All of Judy Chicago's subjects were dead, if I remember right, except O'Keefe, who did not much like The Dinner Party. But,you know, Chicago being a woman makes it all okay. No male gaze involved.
Posted by Patter on November 14, 2012 at 10:54 PM · Report this
49
What is in question is not whether Arnold supports the decision Cornish made but why she puts this dumb piece in at all.
Posted by hitchcock on November 14, 2012 at 11:00 PM · Report this
50
As one of the artists portrayed, I was a lot more offended when I thought I WASN'T included than when I found out I was. Like all of his work, Ben uses humour & creativity to make a point. And he did it again, & also hopefully a lot more people might hear about & attend the show, though I doubt that was his or Sharon's intent.
And yes, to restate the obvious, had he drawn it w/ penises it probably would have been pulled/censored even faster. Rather, odds are it then would not have been included in the first place, in order to be pulled. But does that make the censorship right?
With all this grey & rain, this town needs to lighten up! Thanks for another laugh, Ben...
Posted by leopard bernstein on November 15, 2012 at 12:46 AM · Report this
51
Harassment is not protected speech.
Posted by plutonian on November 15, 2012 at 1:02 AM · Report this
52
@50 "I was a lot more offended when I thought I WASN'T included than when I found out I was"...

This underscores a fascinating dynamic I've observed of all these women cloying to be included in the print, which as we all know is made by a recognized male artist... Who is this dude and why are all these women holding their breath waiting for him to validate their identities as artists?

What the fuck ever, I acknowledge myself, I own myself. My accomplishments are mine and they stand whether some dude recognizes them or not.

Goes back to what I was saying about the broader community and reinforcements... really these who's who lists are a bit unhealthy for the whole when considered from a broader perspective and are bizarrely insular when viewed beyond Seattle.
Posted by ellie_dee on November 15, 2012 at 1:38 AM · Report this
53
I support Ben and this piece, while recognizing its potential for offense. Since the work HAS caused offense and the organization responsible took steps to respond to concerns, that matter seems beyond debate. Yes, let's support the those offended sincerely, but let's also recognize that, if nothing else, Ben was attempting to pay homage to the esteemed women artists in this town. We may hold varying opinions, as seemingly evident, but if discourse, honest and intelligent thoughts on the complexities of gender relations and privilege, is the product of this work, then it seems to me that the piece is necessary. The work is successful, not in a superficial way, but in revealing some deep emotions and projections folks have on the matter. The eloquence of Mandy, Britta, Jen, Sharon, and others are a testament to the strength of the art community to elevate conversations about art and its potential to relevance and regard. It's fine to dismiss and say nasty stuff but let's at least try to do better.
Posted by downtownkitty on November 15, 2012 at 1:39 AM · Report this
54
Dear Ms. Arnold,

"personally, I'm struggling with it being actual, literal, sexual harassment in any context."

That is a quote from your facebook page. You wrote that November 8th. It is directly under the quote Ms. Graves pulled from Mr. Schorr calling the employees of Cornish who are at the heart of this issue "Pussies." A comment that as Ms. Graves notes you "liked" on facebook and have not in the interim "unliked." So when you say you are not "unsympathetic to the women who were adversely affected by the presence of the piece in their workplace." It seems a bit disingenuous.

Best,
Mallery Avidon
(because anonymity is boring but I don't want to change my settings for this thing)

Posted by notadancer on November 15, 2012 at 1:57 AM · Report this
Texas10R 55
I sense the need for Cornish to have an intra-campus discussion on the topic of Ethics in Art: Legal and Moral. Is all campus office space intended and available for use as exhibition, gallery, and performance space? The expectations of visitors to administrative spaces could be assumed to be quite different from the expectations of knowingly entering a gallery space. If all these spaces are used for exhibition, consider the consequences of visitors to Cornish office areas being "ambushed" by a guerrilla-theatre performance troupe. The absence of "reasonable expectation" resulting in psychological shock could induce a heart attack on the unsuspecting visitor. Is it art? Sure, but is it unreasonable and potentially actionable by the unprepared recipient of the effects of the art? Maybe. Perhaps it is reasonable if a conspicuous warning poster is positioned at all points of campus access: "Danger! All forms of art––shocking, offensive, aesthetically pleasing––may be in progress at any time or place on this campus. Consider yourself warned. You are Inspector Clouseau, and we are Cato Fong."

Discuss.
Posted by Texas10R on November 15, 2012 at 6:22 AM · Report this
Texas10R 56
And don't forget the multi-lingual warning audio loop and Braiile embossment on the floors of entrances, and signed waivers from all who wish to enter the campus.
Posted by Texas10R on November 15, 2012 at 6:25 AM · Report this
CharlesF 57
@55 I recognize you as a troll, but this isn't about art, censorship, feminism, or any complex topic like that.

It's just about one man being an asshole in the conext of his profession, and an insitution's choice of whether or not to stand behind his behavior.
Posted by CharlesF on November 15, 2012 at 7:16 AM · Report this
sharonArnold 58
@54: you are taking a piece of a larger comment out of context so this is a non-comment. *one* comment on Facebook is not at all an accurate measure of the larger response a person has. My "actions" as a Feminist are quite public, including papers, lecture series, and lest we forget, Red Current - a survey of contemporary Seattle artists, all who were women, the point of the show being that artists were presented first as artists and the discovery that they were women second. It was important for me as an artist to present women this way, but I have already explained this in another comment elsewhere.

Hitchcock: I believe I address my support in my comment right before yours. Cornish did what it had to do to protect its employees' sense of safety. How could I possibly argue against that? I would want the same, if I were them. The larger decision of whether to pull the piece was not one I felt I could make as the curator. I was too fascinated by the questions and conversation the piece raised.

My studio practice is quite healthy, thank you for the compliment - truly. But why do I curate? Because I am compelled to do so. I find joy in asking questions, drawing lines between artists, presenting new as well as established people, and investigation/conversation. For me it's an extension of my studio practice. Also, I am starting a gallery to continue this practice. Why? Because recently I’ve come to understand better the importance of having a free, public space for us to experience the contemporary art in our city and rather than witness its demise (in light of several gallery closings), I want to help facilitate its revival.

Have you ever written a check for an artist? I have. It's the most gratifying experience, ever.
Posted by sharonArnold http://lengthbywidthbyheight.com on November 15, 2012 at 7:35 AM · Report this
59
Cornish did absolutely the right thing in removing the piece. It is ridiculous that people are trying to pull the "censorship" card here.

If members of your community are made uncomfortable by seeing their names next to implied depictions of their naked bodies, it is absolutely the right thing to remove that depiction.

Actual feminists trust and respect that women tell the truth about feeling threatened or uncomfortable in their workplaces and affirm that women have a right to react according to their own feelings. The, "I'm not offended, so you shouldn't be offended"-line is incredibly anti-feminist. And yeah: "pussies" as an insult is hate speech.
Posted by voiceofreason on November 15, 2012 at 8:35 AM · Report this
60
@59, I agree. One more thing.

It is dangerous to limit what is offensive to only certain circumstances. It does not matter if the image was a pair of boobs or a flower. We all have different triggers due to unique lives lived and therefore different boundaries. One is not more valid than another and therefore the reason for consent should not be judged.

Yes, as you said (and I also agree) we may not understand another's boundaries but they damned well need to be respected once made clear. The women were not given the opportunity to give or pull their consent.

In addition I do not believe this is harassment because I do not believe there was an intent to harass. I think this was simply a case of stepping into a mess. In our age of social media I've watched boundaries get muddled. As we quickly share information, we've come to assume it is okay to grab and pass.

But…as I wrote to Jen in an email yesterday:

"Art is glorious and we can do so much.  But I still believe we have a personal responsibility as humans to each other and so creating freely with the intent of public exhibit and/or sales is a balancing act."

Marie Gagnon
Posted by Marie on November 15, 2012 at 9:03 AM · Report this
61
Looks like something the weird boy with greasy hair who picked his nose and sat in the back of class doodled in his notebook during 6th grade history class.
Posted by 14 on November 15, 2012 at 10:21 AM · Report this
62
Duchampian fart jokes ARE more generally popular than Judy Chicago's Dinner Party. The latter was a collaboration that managed to alienate many of the woman artists involved, in part because JC allegedly was a totalitarian who showed no sense of humor. I appreciate a Beres sense of humor; it hints at sophistication and makes light of the sacrosanct, in a white bad boy way we have all adjusted to by now, in order to survive Western Civilization. A real collaboration WITH the women involved would have been interesting, maybe titillating for all.
Posted by deborahfl on November 15, 2012 at 10:50 AM · Report this
63
But in the current climate, I vote for a hassle-free workplace.
Posted by deborahfl on November 15, 2012 at 10:53 AM · Report this
64
Excellent article Jen Graves, you are a civic treasure. Thanks for digging deep into the complexity of this and for leading the public conversation.

I'm also overjoyed to live in a city where a female art critic can publicly say "fuck you" when when she hears anti-woman hate speech. (Actually, that's not a tribute to this city as much as it's a tribute to the courage of said art critic.)

If we want to preserve a "protected" space for art while also recognizing that art can't claim both to have a meaningful impact on the world and also be free of any portion of responsibility/accountability for those impacts, we need a nuanced range of responses to art and its impacts. Saying, "In my work place? Not so much..." is another response, a fair and good and just one, and is different than censorship. That women have enough personal and social power now that they can be successful in those kind of actions is deeply encouraging to me.

@59, @44 Yes. Thank you.

@60 There doesn't have to be "intent" for it to have been harassment.

Another note:
The thought experiment "what if it were men's names and pictures of penises" fails, because the socio-historic relationship between a man and his sexual parts is VERY DIFFERENT from the relationship between a woman and her sexual parts. Not quite inverse, but nearly. A man's male body is not the location of and historic justification for and symbolic repository of everything used to oppress, control, silence and diminish him. He is not vulnerable in nearly the same way.
Posted by emmaz on November 15, 2012 at 11:30 AM · Report this
65
This is news in the Seattle art scene? Who gives a shit. Seattle's art scene is . . . .

Grow a pair and do something relevant again "pussies." Wah wah wah
Posted by James Nasium on November 15, 2012 at 11:31 AM · Report this
66
@59, 62, 63, 64 YES!!!!!! I am SO GLAD this conversation got so much richer-- it's thanks to your article Jen. (Incidentally, your "Fuck you" to the liberated enlightened "feminist" calling us pussies made you my hero.)
Posted by susannabluhm http://susanna-bluhm.com on November 15, 2012 at 12:11 PM · Report this
67
I think in discussing this we need to define employment from the perspective of an employee. Obviously every person is an individual and each person will have vastly different inner and emotional responses to the same object/experience. Art couldn't "push" boundaries or even be interesting if we didn't all have such diverse responses to art and to the world. The thing about employment is that our ability to support ourselves, our families, and even our art depends upon our employment. If a piece of artwork has the ability to effect someone's job performance, to hurt them in their place of employment then i believe it needs to be removed. There is simply too much at stake for those individuals who are hurt. This doesn't reflect on the art or the artist or even those who respond with discomfort to the art. It reflects on the tremendous power that employers have over their employee that extends even to their employee's families and loved ones. I respect this. I don't want to persecute or judge those that experience discomfort in response to the art. They are individuals and entitled to have unique experiences. i know what it is like to fear for your job, to be mistreated by your employer and i won't ever judge someone for speaking up about discomfort in their workplace. In fact i celebrate employer's that have the insight to recognize the power they have over their employees and to take action not to hurt them. -Karre
Posted by karrefisher on November 15, 2012 at 1:00 PM · Report this
sharonArnold 68
Don't we all find that dissent an integral component of good conversation, the foundation upon which the most interesting and constructive dialogue takes place? My opinion is there isn't enough dissent in contemporary society, that we are so afraid of conflict we shy away from things that disagree. This show has presented an opportunity for a multitude of people to ask really hard questions - not only of myself and of Cornish; but of the artists and of our society about what is and is not acceptable. I have welcomed each and every one of these conversations and questions because in a sense I feel it is my responsibility to engage in them as the curator who presented them. Agree with me on the premise or not - you have to admit that you are glad to be airing out all of this information. I know I am.
Posted by sharonArnold http://lengthbywidthbyheight.com on November 15, 2012 at 1:27 PM · Report this
69
The real question raised by this is whether Beres is behind the SPRING BREAK saggy boob tags that were all over Seattle. The resemblance is uncanny.
Posted by ratcancer on November 15, 2012 at 1:34 PM · Report this
70
Well Kids this suggests to me that our dear little planet has become overcrowded.
Seattle's liberal arts community harbours some fascism?
Art is not motel furniture?
Is art a weapon?
"Dont get your tits in a ringer." Seems to me some sort of calming voice might unfurrow the creative brow, but that would not be my voice.
Posted by Smilo De Venus on November 15, 2012 at 1:39 PM · Report this
71
Clearly the Seattle art scene is too crowded. There have in the past been brief moments of solidarity, but now name-naming and mudslinging.... mayhaps some nice little titties would cheer things up! No? Mayhaps some bloodletting can finally unfurrow the brow. Yesssss!
Feminists are anti everybody and, for my money, humanists are just too fucking nice to break the eggs necessary to make the art omelette that is "not furniture." But let us not underestimate the role of the deadly "humorist."
Art IS a weapon, lets 'bust' a couple heads with it. The sensitive groups are the low hanging fruits? Hey look at the melons on that peach!
Had enough pun ishment? Learn to play nice!!!
Duke Ellington said: "Art is dangerous." I hope to agree.

Posted by Smilo De Venus on November 15, 2012 at 4:39 PM · Report this
72
V V V V V V V V V V V V V V V V v V V

Drawing of vulvas or Pilates class? You decide.
Posted by tkc on November 15, 2012 at 5:11 PM · Report this
73
My gut response to this is as follows:

"Wah wah, another cisgendered dude makes a 'provocative' piece and gets called out for being a shithead, then whines up a storm about it, wah wah."

Next.
Posted by Maxine on November 15, 2012 at 5:25 PM · Report this
74
Um, my first thoughts were equality and empowerment....

a. the breasts are of roughly the same size and shape so as to create a common bond and not allow breast size to define a person (equality.)

b. the baring of breasts represents the power women have over their own bodies, and the confidence and strength it takes to display them proudly. Attached to the names of fellow artists, one would assume it signifies that these people demonstrate these traits.

I didn't get one whiff of female degradation.
Posted by David in Shoreline on November 15, 2012 at 6:15 PM · Report this
seanmichaelhurley 75
I am so completely thrilled to no longer be an Artist by any definable metric in this town. This is the stupidest controversy in the history of stupid controversies. People are hungry, and beaten, and homeless, and forgotten. You should all be ashamed of yourselves.
Posted by seanmichaelhurley http://seanmichaelhurley.blogspot.com on November 15, 2012 at 6:44 PM · Report this
76
^ Bingo.
Posted by Anonymous Commenter on November 15, 2012 at 7:17 PM · Report this
77
Is it worth asking all the men involved in this conversation for permission to make a poster with imagined or just stereotyped depictions of their genitalia with their names attached? And, when you think about that please tell us how you think it would feel to see such a poster which was displayed either with or without your consent. thanks, and, Please, sign up.
Posted by Lauri Chambers on November 15, 2012 at 7:56 PM · Report this
78
=>3 ^3
ben ben
beres beres

(these are the best penis emoticons I could come up with, sorry)
Posted by miko on November 15, 2012 at 8:12 PM · Report this
79
asl;dfow;eifn;aowfinodinc c.,f;asfids--over
Posted by low on toner on November 15, 2012 at 8:27 PM · Report this
80
my wife, my daughter, and my girlfriend are all outraged that they were not included in this wonderful expression of femininity. Where are the applications for participation? Will there be addendum editions? How much of a contribution has to be made to correct the grievous omissions? With all the much lauded artistic talent in this burg, why can't an artist with real talent be hired to do a decent rendition of breasts?
Posted by Dr. JohnnyWow on November 15, 2012 at 8:43 PM · Report this
81
Honestly this piece seems immature like that of a prepubescent boy giggling and sketching something on the middle school bathroom wall. I'm all for "pushing boundaries" and breaking the rules, however when you are already in the dominant group you have no right to reduce artists that most likely have devoted their life to getting their art seen, simply to body parts. The piece is tacky and disrespectful. I realize some of the artists included in this piece don't mind it, but perhaps they never have experienced fully what it is like to be targeted because of your gender and discriminated against first hand. Because, let's face it, some women, nowadays are lucky and perhaps don't ever experience how painful it is to be discriminated against and treated differently because you are a woman. I find the idea of this piece snickering and throwing punches and I'm proud of the teachers who came forward to have it removed from the school.
Posted by Julia PD on November 16, 2012 at 12:37 AM · Report this
sharonArnold 82
@81: I'm on that piece. I'm the curator of the show. Initially, my kneejerk reaction was in response to being the curator of the show and in that piece. In that moment, I realised it was subversive; Pollock pissing in Peggy Guggenheim's fireplace.

Please do not make assumptions about the women who are "represented" who don't mind - in the same way that I will not draw assumptions about the women or persons who object to the piece (and yes they are allowed to, of course!); I do not feel it's appropriate for anyone to draw assumptions about the rest of us.

I worked in an extremely male-dominated industry for 16 years, in Seattle and NYC. I'd be hard pressed to find the level of rampant discrimination, sexism, and harassment I endured in that industry, in New York, anywhere near Seattle. That discrimination was at such a level that I literally had to work twice as hard for less than my male counterparts and fight every step of the way. I know very well what exists out there. I'm sure I'm not alone.

Every woman has a scale by which she measures her interactions in the world every day. We are all approached by men, hit on, proposed to, joked with, and generally buffeted from all sides not only from individuals but from industries and ads and even our own kind. BUT. It is not up to any of us to determine whether or not that scale is calibrated "accurately". This piece has brought to light the fact that we are often inclined to do just that.

THAT. is also interesting.

I can only hope - and noone else has actually brought this up - that those individuals who objected to the piece in their workplace are getting through this storm ok, because in a way this thing blowing up may have made things even worse for them.

Still, at the end of the day, to jump on the right or wrong of this piece is also a misguided attack. The location of the piece, not its content, are a larger part of this debate than its intent or its portrayal. If this had been in a gallery, not someone's workplace, the weight it would have carried would have been vastly different.
More...
Posted by sharonArnold http://lengthbywidthbyheight.com on November 16, 2012 at 7:46 AM · Report this
Fistique 83
I'll say one thing for this piece, it's certainly flushed out everyone who is happy to deride sexually harassed women in the interest of getting more attention for an already-famous artist. Brilliant trolling, Ben Beres.
Posted by Fistique on November 16, 2012 at 7:58 AM · Report this
alpha unicorn 84
“To oppose something is to maintain it... You must go somewhere else; you must have another goal; then you walk a different road.” Ursula K. Le Guin
Posted by alpha unicorn on November 16, 2012 at 9:38 AM · Report this
85
WOW, A "lesbian" ARTICLE. I AM SO USED TO THINKING ABOUT Stranger IN A MALE-ORIENTED WAY I FORGOT Stranger HAS SOME "lesbian" READERS.

CHRISTOPHER ALLEN HORTON
Posted by CHRISTOPHER ALLEN HORTON on November 16, 2012 at 10:12 AM · Report this
mtnlion 86
@75, thanks. As I read this largely self-indulgent, pontificating, quasi-philosophical thread, one thought just keeps coming to my mind: This is soooo stupid.
Posted by mtnlion on November 16, 2012 at 10:24 AM · Report this
Scalpel 87
mtnlion: I agree, and I think that the one thing that was really missing from this discussion was someone stopping by exclusively to declare the discussion to be "soooo stupid". Your input, and the input of seanmichaelhurley, truly made this comment thread worthwhile. Thank you for sharing your wit, wisdom and keen insight with us all, and for making both Slog and the art world as a whole a better place.
Posted by Scalpel on November 16, 2012 at 10:49 AM · Report this
88
First off, the comment about PEOPLE being pussies was just that, about ANY person offended by this being a pussy. Man or woman, and not targeted specifically at the two women who objected. So clearly your entire problem is with that word, no matter what context it's being used in, because almost every single comment has not referenced it in the actual manner it was used. Where would your outrage over "hate speech" be if he called "people who object to this are wimps"?

I agree that the item should be pulled if women who worked there felt uncomfortable with it. I also feel then that it is a place that absolutely should not be used for shows. Find suitable artwork, buy it, put it up as permanent displays, just like a real business in the real world does, so that neither customers nor workers are offended. Was it insensitive to display the piece where these two women work, sure. Was it harassment? No. As one person pointed out, they could have been offended by anything put up with their name attached, such as a daisy, which still makes it insensitive but not harassment.

Lastly, the amount of people on here whining about people having their names used without permission is laughable.
Really? Does anybody ask a President for permission before drawing a caricature of him in the daily newspaper? Donald Trump before a "humorous" drawing of his hair as a badger? No? I guess all paintings of historical figures must stop, since by being dead you can't ask them for permission. Are the women on the art not artists? Have they not had public works shown and their name talked about in polite conversations under pink florescent lights while folks sip fancy cocktails? Are they not recognized within the community at large? Then yes they are public figures, especially when it concerns art about them as artists. Nobody should feel the need to ask them permission to be in an art piece about them and their place as artists. Again though, said piece should be removed from a place they work at if it makes them uncomfortable. It doesn't give them the right to ask for it to be taken down from some random gallery or place a burqa over their name and caricature boobs while on display in same random gallery.

Also, Charles, just because you see the art one way doesn't mean that is the only, or even correct way for it to be seen. If you were any kind of artist you would know this.
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Posted by Fin Alyn on November 16, 2012 at 11:51 AM · Report this
89
@86 mtnlion & @87 Scalpel: I agree--it IS soooo stupid.
This whole ridiculously overblown "debate" has a particularly nasty
far-right wingnut extremist stench to it.

Maybe someone should switch the images of breasts to Rush Limbaugh's 216 rolls of fat. Now, THAT'S offensive!
Posted by auntie grizelda on November 16, 2012 at 12:21 PM · Report this
90
It seems to me that the women in the female only art show, choosing to participate publicly in a show that focused so much on their gender, should understand when a response piece points out the reduction of their work to their gender (which is how I understood the piece).

That being said, it is their workplace, and they should have every right to request it be removed (and, upon request, SHOULD be removed or censored from their workplace, because it is their workplace). But given the circumstances, I don't think any of them SHOULD have requested it. Even if it offended them.

Basically, Cornish was right to respond to the complaints as they did, Beres was right to make the piece, but the two women were wrong to request it be removed. I don't mean that as a "blame the victim" type thing, I mean that as a "they put themselves out as artists reduced to their gender, so somebody pointing that out in a response piece shouldn't have them pulling administration in to silence it."
Posted by TheRob on November 16, 2012 at 2:41 PM · Report this
91
I agree with feeling uncomfortable about 'telling anyone else what to think' etc statements. I too feel a bit confused as to how I feel on this topic. Overall I think it should not have been removed. Same time- it raises the discussion as to what we censor to what level simply because it offends or makes some one uncomfortable. We had to break those barriers with much of our media and art in my experience typically had the fewest when it came to nudity, offensive or vulger imagery etc.
Many forms of art or self expression are offensive to many people. Hell- election time campaigns enraged me half the time, but its within everyones rights to represent themselves. Would I allow my name or face to be on an anti gay marriage campain or below a hand drawn picture of tits? Is one better or worse? Again this is different for every person.
Living in this world trying to coexhist peacefully we are faced with these dilemas judgement, agrivation, pain, joy, agreement, disagreement in reaction to all that comes are way. I find it a good excercise regaurdless.
And it seems as though too often these days the topic comes to blows on either side and is simply a battle of opinions. If I go to church and feel bothered by something one says, well that was my choice to be there. It is unfortunate that my experienced differed. But that's life and unless we censor everything that starts bothering everyone or being "WRONG" well there would be nothing left.
Art galleries are a great example of entering an experience that may have many different outcomes. Good and bad. I'd like to assume most of us attend hoping for good. If that wasn't the result of this peice again, unfortunate. I am self concious about my breasts to a large degree and may also have felt uncomfortable. However, some may have related, enjoyed, or simply been inspired by the peice. It's removal has obviously gained more attention than it may have got at the gallery without the controversy but that's not the point. The point is we all get to express ourselves. Inculding the guy who called those women "pussies", and the article's author who told him to "fuck off" for it. One in the same, now a battle. Let's enjoy this world and try to get along. Or revel in the disagreement and your heavy stance on issues. (really not sarcastic) Keep it all tied in.
all is one
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Posted by Emily Intense on November 16, 2012 at 3:25 PM · Report this
92
"our" not are and many others- bleh i quickly typed, edited had to make an acount to post and my edits apparently weren't updated in the post. I'm only initially a complete moron. Never the less you get it...
Posted by Emily Intense on November 16, 2012 at 4:08 PM · Report this
93
@82 I realized after I wrote that that I was indeed making assumptions - and you are right that is the point, that I shouldn't make assumptions about who was ok with the piece and who isn't - point is it is bringing up some good topics for discussion so in that case it is successful. Also I agree with you that the larger debate is the appropriateness of where and when to show the piece. Me personally I find the piece mocking and painful. But as someone who has also made subversive art I understand the intent behind it. It's hard for me to separate my personal feelings however because I have experienced extreme discrimination as a designer/artist for being a woman to the point where it has negatively impacted me on a deep level. That being said, overall I find the whole idea of the show a little backwards. No offense intended, you are entitled to your opinion and to curate as you wish as am entitled to mine. But what is the point of giving the already dominant group a show like this? The point of the feminist show at the SAM is to give voice to woman who throughout history have been excluded from everything, including the art world. If you study art history, rarely do you learn about woman artists, not because they weren't making art, but because they have classically been excluded from being shown. Perhaps times have changed a bit but I don't think they've changed on such a massive level to then start reducing artists simply to their breasts. Seems highly disrespectful. I just don't get the irony. However to end on a positive note, kudos for taking the time to read the comments and make a personal response.
Posted by Julia PD on November 16, 2012 at 4:38 PM · Report this
Texas10R 94
@ 57
CharlesF
What a punk!

A troll would post incendiary stuff to deliberately cause needless controversy for its own sake. That is NOT the point of my post. I asserted that it would be worthwhile for the Cornish community to have an INTRA-CAMPUS discussion about where on the campus art should be exhibited or performed, and in what context it would be reasonably expected. If you consider that to be "trolling", you are definitely in the wrong fucking thread.

*Dickhead!*
Posted by Texas10R on November 16, 2012 at 5:26 PM · Report this
95
(continued from above as I found some interesting articles to share on this topic for those who wish to ponder it more google: women excluded from art history)

"For the most part, however, traditional art history has systematically excluded or masked women’s participation in the visual arts." From: Women in Visual Art - Oxford Art Online

(and sadly it isn't just the visual arts.)

I don't find that funny, in fact, it pisses me off on a very large level. Sometimes I think people think it's ok to take stabs at topics like these, because they think it's ok for the topic to be "re-claimed" and that the particular culture or social issue is resolved, when in fact, the person is only naive to the fact of how deeply painful these topics still are for some and that they are actually indeed, a very real problem. Along the same line, recent occurrences of cultural appropriation by Victoria Secret of Native American headdresses, or Gwen Stefani music video including Native American depictions. The reason why this is wrong, is that neither of these entities are a part of this culture, which is still around, but just repressed, therefore it is not their topic to represent. So like that, to make a male response, to the feminist exhibit at the SAM, and then include pieces depicting women in this manner is wrong, because it is not this male artist's right to do this. You may feel as though Seattle is more of a safe zone compared to New York City, after all it is a progressive area, but dig in deep and you'll find sexism alive and well in many aspects of this town.
Posted by Julia PD on November 16, 2012 at 5:40 PM · Report this
96
@84 you got it. let us go there. thanks. please friend me.I would like to continue this conversation..
Posted by Lauri Chambers on November 16, 2012 at 6:13 PM · Report this
97
Just wanna say "thanks" to Cable, Jen and everybody else who's approached this subject reasonably and with some degree of sensitivity. The only real issue here, so far as I can see, is that two women, unsurprisingly, didn't want a crude cartoon of saggy boobs attached to their names in the lobby of their friggin' workplace! How hard can it possibly be to grasp that, in this context, Beres' piece might constitute an invasive, thoughtless and rather creepy form of sexual harassment - regardless of artistic intent?

I can't believe that any compassionate and even semi-progressive adult would downplay that in favor of the opportunity to cry "censorship!". The piece isn't being scrubbed from the world. The artist isn't being legally censured. Cornish has merely decided that this venue isn't appropriate for this particular piece - which, come on, is patently obvious. They're right. Their employees deserve at least that much consideration.

It's a cheap rhetorical device, but if you disagree, I want you to imagine your mom, sister or daughter being asked to endure a piece of art consisting of just their name accompanied by of a crude rendering of a vagina (just to up the stakes a little) every morning when they show up at work. Art should be free to express itself, sure, but at the same time, men need to be a hell of a lot more aware of the world they create in flexing their privilege.
Posted by a beales on November 17, 2012 at 10:07 AM · Report this
98
Just wanna say "thanks" to Cable, Jen and everybody else who's approached this subject reasonably and with some degree of sensitivity. The only real issue here, so far as I can see, is that two women, unsurprisingly, didn't want a crude cartoon of saggy boobs attached to their names in the lobby of their friggin' workplace. How hard can it possibly be to grasp that, in this context, Beres' piece might constitute an invasive, thoughtless and rather creepy form of sexual harassment - regardless of artistic intent?

I can't believe that any compassionate and even semi-progressive adult would downplay that in favor of the easy opportunity to cry "censorship!". The piece isn't being scrubbed from the world. The artist isn't being legally censured. Cornish has merely decided that this venue isn't appropriate for this particular piece - which, come on, is patently obvious. They're right. Their employees deserve at least that much consideration.

It's a cheap rhetorical device, but if you disagree, I want you to imagine your mom, sister or daughter being asked to endure a piece of art consisting of just their name accompanied by of a crude rendering of a vagina (just to up the stakes a little) in the lobby every morning when they show up at work. Art should be free to express itself, sure, but at the same time, men need to be a hell of a lot more aware of the world they create in flexing their unearned privilege.
Posted by a beales on November 17, 2012 at 10:14 AM · Report this
99
At the core of the argument is the question: "Whose world is it?" A line drawing of female breasts repeated hundreds of times with the names of prominent artists underneath each rendering is surely offensive, and, I dare say, hostile, because it reduces those artists to pairs of breasts. They are not pairs of breasts, they are humans, artists, members of complex communities. No one would even think to make a comparable piece with penises. Should it be censored? Certainly not. Should it be honestly assessed as an expression of our condition? Yes.
Posted by dce on November 17, 2012 at 10:17 AM · Report this
mtnlion 100
@87, you're welcome!
Posted by mtnlion on November 17, 2012 at 10:51 AM · Report this
101
There are two issues here: (1) the piece itself and its merits, and (2) it's place of display.

The first issue: as to the piece itself, it's the artist's right to make it as s/he sees fit. This piece says a lot about how Beres sees women, artists, and women who are artists. Our reaction to it says a lot about us. Sounds just about how it should be.

As to the second issue: Cornish, while being an art school full of ideas and learning, is also a workplace. Thinking that it's a neutral space is a mistake. The people who work there have actual real legal rights to a harassment-free workplace. The piece has every right to be displayed - just not at Cornish.
Posted by jmills on November 17, 2012 at 4:07 PM · Report this
102
There are two issues here: (1) the piece itself and its merits, and (2) it's place of display.

The first issue: as to the piece itself, it's the artist's right to make it as s/he sees fit. This piece says a lot about how Beres sees women, artists, and women who are artists. Our reaction to it says a lot about us. Sounds just about how it should be.

As to the second issue: Cornish, while being an art school full of ideas and learning, is also a workplace. Thinking that it's a neutral space is a mistake. The people who work there have actual real legal rights to a harassment-free workplace. The piece has every right to be displayed - just not at Cornish.
Posted by jmills on November 17, 2012 at 4:10 PM · Report this
103
I’m relieved to see that most of the implications that this visual and it’s treatment brought to mind, were addressed intelligently in the article, thank-you Jen Graves. The annoying fact still lingers, that this artist may actually be an upstanding guy, who yet doesn’t truly appreciate his privileged ease in reducing the subject of female artists into a discussion of boob sizes while gaining notoriety for himself, or that he accomplished this by violating the privacy of the unconsented women named-- a privacy he continues to disrespect. It’s therefore difficult to believe he understands the topics he has presented. His art work (and highlighting it in an article, sorry) doesn't allow for women to express more than their petty enduring struggles against patriarchy. This may be part of the point being conveyed but continually reiterating that alone does not assist women to move past it. In fact, reiteration of the topic (especially done in a blasé manner from a male artist) contains the potential to reinforce it. Everyone is not given space in the art world and this button-pushing piece may likely sell for more money and get more attention than complex thoughtful works from other male or female artists of both shows. This is stupid. Also I'm tired of artists hiding behind the ambiguity of their pieces as though that constitutes expressing something significant-- sometimes it does-- sometimes it's just throwing out an easy insult and then getting the h*** out of Dodge.
Posted by AmberGris on November 17, 2012 at 6:54 PM · Report this
104
@90 first of all, why should these women tolerate being singled out for sexual derision at their work place? Do you really think it's valid to reduce gender to the image of breasts? These women aren't singling themselves out based on their gender, they're just responding to a society full of male privilege by trying to make space for artistic expression. The art itself is vulgar, but that's not the issue. The issue is that it targets specific women for public ridicule. I could see an argument for this as libel, and the gallery is well within its rights to remove it.
Posted by plutonian on November 17, 2012 at 9:06 PM · Report this
105
The issue isn't the work of art. It is that it was hung in the place of employment of two of the subjects. I honestly don't see the piece being taken down as censorship at all. It's ethical workplace management. Hang it somewhere else, where members of the 108 don't work.

This would have been a lot more impressive to me as a piece of art if the artist and/or Cornish had anticipated that hanging the piece in the place of employment of two of the subjects was not beckoning censorship but rather the enforcement of basic workplace rights. Is the piece trying to make a statement about workplace rights? Not so much.
Posted by Shannon Murphy on November 17, 2012 at 10:40 PM · Report this
106
I think if he had asked permission from each of the artists "represented" it would be a different story.
It involves the issue of appropriation. If someone puts YOUR NAME into their art, do you personally have a say about that. Should the women named sue him? Class action?
I personally would be irritated to see my name attached to poorly drawn breasts hanging in my workplace. Save it for the bathroom walls, gents.

Posted by fotoeve on November 17, 2012 at 11:46 PM · Report this
107
It is profoundly upsetting that this conversation has come down to such ridiculous questions as "is this art", "is this censorship" and "what is a feminist response to it". But the larger tragedy is the response to this whole ordeal has become a rehearsal of every sexist impulse that exists in our culture, including blaming the female victims for failing to see what a male artist intends them to see how he intends them to see it.
Posted by Kevin Swann on November 18, 2012 at 12:20 AM · Report this
108
Gender be damned, I'm an equalist, not a feminist.
On a human interaction sociology scale, I'm immensely curious if the "2" tried approaching their co-worker, who for all I know is benjamina beres, about the piece before going to the employer/authoritarian about this? And I'm curious if any other of the "106" artists have also had interactions or requests for removal? We've got this immense impersonal 'personal space bubble' here in Seattle , and I've often found over the years that a ton of drama and offense and heartache could be avoided by old-fashioned Directness. Did he tell them to bugger off, and that's why they approached the admin, or did they go straight to the boss and/or lawyer up?
On an art scale, this is pretty mediocre art, with a rather ancient maplethorpian philosophy (also fairly juvenile) behind it at best, and I can't help but cynically assume beres did this mainly for self promotion, with a only a bonus side of possibly art commentary -made more possible by living in town where Ms Graves is known to call out gender issues loudly?
That said - on a female scale, no still means no and I'm half surprised the 'pussy' camp hasn't trotted out that old gem "she was asking for it" yet. I kinda hope the 2 DO lawyer up and press on slandered good name charges.
No, boobs and dicks aren't the same, but assholes pretty much are. I kinda want to put a sculpture of beres body in the cornish lobby with a big puckered anus for a head. He'd be cool with that, right? It's ART
Posted by JulietteF on November 18, 2012 at 5:58 AM · Report this
Lizajane 109
Lets all get naked. I wish that all humans, men and women, would get over this fear and loathing of the human body!

Breasts are just a part of the body. We all have them. Bodies I mean.

Posted by Lizajane on November 18, 2012 at 8:40 AM · Report this
Lizajane 110
You see, I don't think this is about "What is Art?" at all. I don't think this is about feminist art or the male artists response to it. I think this is about how screwed up we all are all over the world regarding our bodies.
Posted by Lizajane on November 18, 2012 at 8:44 AM · Report this
111
Except the regard of the body as an object of sexuality or of vision IS an issue of feminist concern.
Posted by Kevin Swann on November 18, 2012 at 9:56 AM · Report this
artandpoliticsnow 112
Sexual harassment in the work place needs to be Sharon Arnold's next show, or perhaps "women and rape," or perhaps just "women's rights" if she can't handle too much direct content ( except in a mediocre print)
This is a pathetic art work, and should never have been shown at all.
Posted by artandpoliticsnow http://www.artandpoliticsnow.com on November 18, 2012 at 11:05 AM · Report this
Scalpel 113
@112: "or perhaps just "women's rights" if she can't handle too much direct content"

Because clearly Sharon seems to have an aversion to confrontation and controversy in art, as opposed to the shows you've curated, which tackle the controversial theme of "war and suffering is bad".

Don't get me wrong; from your website it looks like they were interesting shows, but I don't think you're in a position to criticize another curator for playing it safe.
Posted by Scalpel on November 18, 2012 at 1:01 PM · Report this
114
@106, I agree, regarding appropriation.

This afternoon I spent some time googling for privacy violations and the law surrounding appropriation and found this:

"Invasion of privacy is the intrusion upon, or revelation of, something private[i]. One who intentionally intrudes, physically or otherwise, upon the solitude or seclusion of another or his/her private affairs or concerns, is subject to liability to the other for invasion of privacy[ii].
The law of privacy consists of four distinct kinds of invasion. The right of privacy is invaded when there is[iii]:
unreasonable intrusion upon the seclusion of another,
appropriation of the other’s name or likeness,
unreasonable publicity given to the other’s private life, and
publicity which unreasonably places the other in a false light before the public."

taken from; http://privacy.uslegal.com/what-constitu…

I am not a lawyer and so am not sure how it would apply in this particular case...but again, for me the large issue is the lack of permission from each person to use their name.

If nothing else, IMO it shows a lack of courtesy and sensitivity.

It would be great if Artist Trust did a workshop on such legalities.
Posted by Marie on November 18, 2012 at 3:57 PM · Report this
115
I think the fact that this so-so doodle was censored has unfortunately elevated its importance. Yes, it's offensive because he didn't ask the artists' permission, but mostly (to me) because the only uniqueness in each pair of breasts is due to being drawn by hand, not machine...it's a portrait of breasts he's never seen but had the audacity to sketch anyway. But if this piece were hanging on the wall, it would irritate, titillate (forgive me) or offend for about a minute, then you'd move on to the next piece. I think the two women who complained should have done so to the artist...they should have sucked it up instead of trying to censor. Maybe place a post it note over their name. The effect is now that they've rewarded the guy who pissed them off.
Posted by portland scribe on November 18, 2012 at 6:36 PM · Report this
116
This artist and the curator bring me back to Mitt Romney's comment about asking to be provided "a binder full of women." Beres' reductive print and the curator's comment about only being able to get 40 (women), in comparison to the number of women that Beres "got"...kind of creeps me out. Someone made a comment about being offended if she hadn't been on the list. So now one guy puts himself in the position of deciding who the legit local female artists are. Sort of puppetmasterlike, no? Creepy AND grandiose.
Posted by earwig on November 18, 2012 at 8:44 PM · Report this
vexxxy 117
I don't usually read the arts section in the Stranger because I feel like the art scene here (and possibly in general) has become an insular, self-referential cool-kids club that has nothing to offer anyone outside the artists and critics. (A feeling that this piece certainly does nothing to counter.)

That said, I thought this was a very thoughtful article that examined both sides of a very tricky issue. However I was shocked to see Ms. Graves so blithely use the word "alpha" to describe Charles Saatchi. The use of "alpha" and "beta" to describe men is profoundly hurtful to men who are introverted and sensitive. The implication is that if you are not a Gordon Gekko/John Galt kind of guy who is constantly bedding women like James Bond, then you belong to an inferior class of human. These are words that, like "retarded", need to be excised from common use, and to see Ms. Graves use them in the context of an otherwise thoughtful article saddens me. These words are doubly hurtful, because not only do they impact the self-esteem of young men, they also encourage aggressively misogynistic behavior. Misapplied from biology (think "Social Darwinism") by the Pick Up Artist scene, the notion is that the superior "alphas" break through women's defenses to "score" while the inferior "betas" are stuck in the "friend zone." Go to the comments section in any website whose audience is mostly teenage and early-twenties males, and you will see these words in abundance, with the context being that if you treat a woman like a human being your are weak and inferior. Indeed, when I see street art and stickers in my neighborhood with slogans like "teach men not to rape" and "stop rape culture" one of the first things I think of is the trope of the "alpha" male that is being pressed on our young men coming int their sexuality. Even though Ms. Graves did not necessarily use the word in a positive context, the implication is obvious: A > B.
More...
Posted by vexxxy on November 18, 2012 at 8:54 PM · Report this
118
Jesus. A bunch of pretentious bullshit. Thicken the skin a little. Big argument over nothing.
Posted by LMNOP on November 18, 2012 at 9:59 PM · Report this
119
8=D 8=D 8=D 8=D 8=D 8=D 8=D 8=D 8=D 8=D 8=D 8=D
Bob Keith Mark Rick ect, ect, ect,
Posted by LMNOP on November 18, 2012 at 10:04 PM · Report this
120
I'm making $86 an hour working from home. I was shocked when my neighbour told me she was averaging $95 but I see how it works now. I feel so much freedom now that I'm my own boss. This is what I do,cloud68.com
Posted by jennysantos on November 18, 2012 at 11:29 PM · Report this
121
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Posted by #GOERS on November 19, 2012 at 12:50 AM · Report this
122
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Posted by #GOERS on November 19, 2012 at 12:58 AM · Report this
123
"#109 - Lizajane,"

BABY, YOU ARE TALKIN' MY LANGUAGE. I AM NAKED 99.9% OF THE TIME! NOW, THAT Y'ALL HAVE LEGAL DOPE, IT CAN BE A NON-ENDING PARTY - NAKED DUDES ON T-H-I-S SIDE AND NAKED "CHICKS," OVER THERE.

CHRISTOPHER ALLEN HORTON
Posted by CHRISTOPHER ALLEN HORTON on November 19, 2012 at 9:31 AM · Report this
124
Sorry, but I still have questions. would it be different if this were drawn on the wall in a bathroom stall?
Posted by Lauri Chambers on November 19, 2012 at 9:56 AM · Report this
125
Jen Graves, girl reporter, once again shows herself to be a ditzy broad as she sells out her sisters to hype the pseudo-controversy of a sophomoric publicity stunt that has her falling over herself to disregard the feelings of very real people who have a right to feel violated in deference to some phony high-falutin' talk of censorship. Chalk up one point for Ben Beres, zero for decency and common sense. Jen, you should be ashamed of yourself. You delude yourself into thinking you're on some moral high ground when really you are wallowing in the mud of your own self-regard.
Posted by Ms. Steak on November 19, 2012 at 10:34 AM · Report this
shurenka 126
Sorry, but I think it's BS for artists to whine about "censorship" as if it were a cardinal sin especially after they deliberately try to push the envelope and offend people. If people don't like your artwork, if they find it offensive, it will be removed. It would be one thing if it were destroyed and sent down the memory hole, but it's not. In fact this piece will get a lot more exposure now.

I can see how this artwork could be interpreted either way; either as a sexist testament to how women are perpetually reduced to sex objects no matter what their accomplishments, or a critique of that very practice.

But, he didn't ask any of the 108 to use their names for this project. He didn't seem to care about how actual women would feel about being portrayed as a pair of breasts. Given that he didn't show these concerns, the piece feels presumptuous and creepy -- as the article points out, an act of male privilege.
Posted by shurenka on November 19, 2012 at 1:49 PM · Report this
shurenka 127
Also, let's be fair, it's a shit drawing, the artist even misspelled names and wrote things backward! What, is paper so expensive you can't even redo poor quality work? Even from a purely visual standpoint, this piece deserves to be trashed.
Posted by shurenka on November 19, 2012 at 1:53 PM · Report this
128
Shurenka--I understand that it is an etching, done on copper. Text must be written backwards to come out correctly. Look into things before you flippantly spout off on the internet you ignorant blowhard.
Posted by Albrecht on November 19, 2012 at 2:08 PM · Report this
shurenka 129
@128 -- still who gives a fuck about the medium, as an artist why wouldn't you redo work that was poorly done? I guess I like my art technically competent, is all. If it's more about the message than the medium -- just become an internet troll as others have suggested! (I see you're already there, amirite!)

Especially ironic that he misspelled their names; only furthers my theory that this piece had nothing to do with fighting sexism or advocating for teh wiminz. It was just a self-aggrandizing attempt to spark controversy.
Posted by shurenka on November 19, 2012 at 2:14 PM · Report this
130
It was great to see this piece in person thanks to Sierra Stinson and Vignettes. After having a look at the actual piece and speaking with many people including the artist, I arranged to purchase a print for myself.
I truly believe that Ben has made a strong work of art here. Whether you have an opinion on it's technical merits, agenda, or even the larger social context in which it speaks to, I hope you realize that it is above all a work of art and a successful one at that.
It is successful in one sense, it is what the artist intended to create, and it has something to say. Ben made many choices when creating Mamelles. He made a choice to include 108 artists, he made the choice to use their full names, and he made the choice to draw the print entirely by hand. He even made a series of choices on the way in which the print was produced. In some aspects there are things that were an outcome of other choices made by Beres, but what is on the paper is entirely intentional. What you choose to see in it is up to you. I can certainly say that this is an important piece of work. Too bad the edition is limited to 20 as any collector of relevant art in Seattle should have one in their collection.
On a side note, SAM could use a print as a guide to the next 108 works that they should acquire for their permanent collection.
Posted by #GOERS on November 19, 2012 at 5:06 PM · Report this
131
touché #130

Yes, this will sell out every one of those prints, and the curator will have a shitload of people at the opening of her new space this month.

At least someone will make some money in this tiny art colony, but none of this changes the fact that it is a stupid piece by a foolish artist.

Commentary? This is a like a pig falling into a pile of manure and claiming it was his expertise that got him there. So republican to believe that good fortune and membership in the ruling class have nothing to do with it.

If this curator is so damn edgy, then why are the same handful of drinking buddies featured in everything she is involved with or everything that is written about her?

As amusing at this thread is, it isomewhat wasted because the curator is so dead set on not seeing the obvious and sidesteps every sensible thing that is posted. It takes alot of denial to insist that creating a forum for a member of the ruling class to render the "other" in such undignified terms despite so much evidence to the contrary and try to posit that as some kind of intellectual sophistication.

Bill Clinton said it best when he declared, "...I DID NOT...HAVE SEX...with that girl."
Posted by hitchcock on November 19, 2012 at 6:07 PM · Report this
132
Background on where I come from before starting, and I do believe in full disclosure so, Straight, Painfully white, grew up on capitol hill, currently go to Notre Dame (no I am not catholic or republican, but, GO IRISH)
first, I am not a feminist and I am offended by the assumption that all modern people should be feminists. I am an equalist. Feminism has become largely man hating, it is unfortunate that what was once a great idea got twisted and sidetracked but there it is. The failure of feminism is that it has failed to achieve things like equal treatment in the workplace, which is ridiculous, that should never have been a problem in the first place. But where it has succeeded for women is in places like universities, where women have a much larger presence than they did decades ago, that is great! what is not great is that this has gone too far, there are tons of empowerment and other types of services offered to women at most universities, while I can say as a current college student (at a very misogynistic school even) the only gender specific things targeted at men are attacking and tell us that we are all horrible. This has resulted in exponentially higher dropout rates for men. Any type of favoritism is wrong, towards men or women, and BOTH exist. Pay people equally, help them equally, admit them equally. any tye of discrimination or favoritism is just another obstacle between today and a world where success is based on merit. you cannot overcompensate for past transgressions in a "sins of the father" type mentality. There is one more thing I want to address, that being the over-reaching sensitivity to hate speech. I would like to say that calling someone a dick or a cock is not a compliment, its calling them an asshole (asshole is gender neutral right?). Hate speech exists, it is wrong, and we ALL know what those terms and phrases are, words that start with N or F that I will refuse to even type here. words that have a history of extreme degradation, of violence, of HATE (hence "hate speech"). And know the stereotype of white men is to hiss and recoil at discussions of feminism and privilege, and that is a really convenient way of dismissing all counter arguments. I hope y'all actually take the time to think about my points, that is if you have even bothered to read this. I have listened to many people's arguments, I read a lot of comments, I have been told I don't deserve anything I have in my life because I am white and male (I know that is an extreme example but still, it is unfortunately becoming a common view) and took the time to formulate my own opinions on a very important issue. And with regard to the art piece, ultimately it was unsensitive for that artist to tie other people's names to a statement they did not agree with, but that is common in all art. (see Raphael painting Michelangelo into one of his fresco's as a sulking loner, see Lynyrd Skynyrd calling out Neil Young in Sweet Home Alabama) It isn't "nice" but shit happens, and I do not care about the statement but censorship is wrong. That being said Cornell is a private institution and has every right to restrict whatever they want in their own space.
More...
Posted by KingKong on November 19, 2012 at 9:07 PM · Report this
Scalpel 133
@131: That may be one of the most incoherent Slog replies I've seen that wasn't hidden behind the words "Unregistered Comment". In fact, it's so rambling and scatter shot that it almost seems like a deliberate work of art.

hitchcock, do you sell prints of your Slog posts? I'd be interested in buying a copy of @131 as an example of "Dissolution of Coherence in 21st Century Internet Communications".
Posted by Scalpel on November 19, 2012 at 11:54 PM · Report this
134
What if a lesbian had made it?
Posted by ZZZAAA on November 20, 2012 at 3:13 PM · Report this
135
As a dude, I wouldn't want even my name to be in some random dude's dumb painting, let alone whatever the perv imagines my dick to look like. I have no idea how that is ok. Fuck that guy.
Posted by anonymous comment probably no one will read on November 21, 2012 at 12:38 AM · Report this
136
@116 "Someone made a comment about being offended if she hadn't been on the list. So now one guy puts himself in the position of deciding who the legit local female artists are."

Yeah that was exactly my issue, combined with the fact that this kind of legitimizing happens often in this art community on a peer-to-peer level. Of course it practically makes the artworld-at-large go round, but when you're talking alternative or DIY practices, it feels at worst really false, at best incredibly paradoxical. It's really interesting how gender plays a role in the ways we legitimize ourselves or wait for others to legitimize us.
Posted by ellie_dee on November 25, 2012 at 4:41 PM · Report this
137
@110: Good point.
Posted by auntie grizelda on November 25, 2012 at 11:05 PM · Report this

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