Recently, the art world had a situation.
Unfortunately, it's nothing new. It's actually getting worse and certainly not going away.
It happened when some "artist" destroyed Picasso's "Woman in a Red Arm Chair" at the Menil Collection in Houston. Also, not long afterward, someone stole a Salvador Dali painting from a New York City art gallery.
My head is spinning right now because these incidents bring up so many issues. Let's try to tackle just a few.
First of all, where do people get off destroying or taking things that don't belong to them? Were these people raised by wolves? Did they not get any home training as children? Surely, you don't have to be the most morally upright, cultured individual to know that you should keep your hands off things that don't belong to you. I mean, the person who walks into a highly-esteemed institution to commit an act of destruction or robbery would pretty much do anything, no?
Whenever someone robs or destroys anything in the public domain, it's really an attack not only on the item itself or the owner, but on each and every one of US. What gives one person the right to think that they can just do whatever they want to something that isn't theirs?
This is such a problem in our society right now ... people who think that they can just do whatever they want, even if it comes at the detriment of everyone else. Individual rights? Absolutely. Let's encourage that, but wreckless selfishness? Absolutely not.
Here's what this is really all about.
Think for a moment about what happens these days whenever anyone does something that's considered a security breach. First, you might hear someone get on the phone and call ...
It's like a joke, but we're really going through a totally uptight, security-minded time right now. I spoke recently with an American artist who now lives in Germany. The guy told me that he feels America has become so humorless and controlled.
Ya think? Everyone seems to be on edge and ready for a fight over nothing.
Security has become such a huge industry in this economically-challenged time. People are now banking their careers and businesses on it. We claim to be a nation that reveres freedom, but have we ever had as much fear and need for “security”?
"Well, just as long as they keep me safe!" we say.
You and I both know that this is our way of rationalizing overly-invasive security searches. Our freedom is slowly getting chipped away because of these idiots who think it's okay to vandalize a Picasso painting and such. At some point, we have to stop blaming 9-11 for everything.
While attending Art Basel Miami Beach 2011 last December, I was stunned by the heightened security. Security personnel are now almost militant, though not always intelligent, in their controlling ways. How many times have you gone through security anywhere and thought, "This isn't about keeping me safe, it's actually about controlling and humiliating people." It's a power trip from folks who are maybe making $10 an hour. I’m NOT talking about ALL security people. I’m talking about the ones who tend to let a drop of authority go straight to their heads. You know, the untrained ones.
I will never forget how I watched a respected artist being harassed by security as he tried to get onto the main floor of the Miami Beach Convention Center at Basel. Literally moments before, he delivered a captivating lecture to a fascinated crowd in one of the halls off the main convention center floor. Yet suddenly, he became a security threat. Seriously?
This whole security thing has also created a cattle mentality among the masses. Strangely, people just don't seem to mind being herded in like animals headed for slaughter. Just as long as they keep us safe.
And yet, you know what? While I want as much freedom as I can possibly get, I ALSO want to feel safe. I must admit, there’s nothing like a highly-secured environment to make you feel like everything is going to be okay. It’s great! You cannot blame art venues, society or even individuals for taking security precautions at any time of day or night. It’s a sad, yet necessary reality in this 21st century world. It also reignites that age old debate ... freedom vs. security.
The police state isn't far off. At the end of the day, you can't even blame those poorly-trained, hourly security workers … and 9-11 was more than a decade ago. Hasn’t time flown? It really comes down to those clowns who think they can do whatever they want to a Picasso in a public place. Unfortunately, we all end up paying the price ... in more ways than one. It's the reason why we have to take off our shoes, belts, watches, jewelry and sometimes dignity at the security checkpoint. Idiots make life more difficult for the rest of us.
Fortunately, folks at the Menil Collection are trying to repair that Picasso and that stolen Dali painting mysteriously turned up in the mail unharmed. Hmm. Maybe there’s hope after all.
Still, Picasso was probably rolling in his grave when that guy was destroying his painting. Can you imagine? If Pablo himself were an actual witness to what was happening to his painting at the time, do you know what he would have done? I'm SURE he would have shouted ...
That’s after pulling out a big, well-deserved can of “whip-ass” on the idiot.