Should Art Be Destroyed (short answer: no)
Currently I am incredulous but my mood could change to anything from furious to seething to pity. You see I was reading an article as background for my dissertation. After the first paragraph it became obvious that it was completely irrelevant and also that the writer was a lunatic. However, in the manner of people who stare at motorway pile-ups, I continued reading.
I read about half the article (entitled Should art be destroyed?) and then skipped to the end so I’ve probably missed out the crucial few lines that makes the rest of it sensible but there we go. That’s the fault of the writer for making me want to throw things at my computer screen in the hopes that some of them would hit with enough force that pixels flew off the author’s screen and buried themselves into his skin before reaching the sane part of the argument.
The author’s main point was that art is some self perpetuating behemoth which has, since time immemorial, forced its way into nearly all societies with such insidious voracity that society is now incapable of treating those who dislike art with anything but contempt. This discrimination is so rampant that if one does not have anything art related to put on their CV they will be consigned to their local job centre for the rest of their life and never even aspire to the heady heights of public office… Fact.
There was also a general sense of bitterness regarding the fact that one is not allowed to teach art incineration (that bit did tickle me) in order to counteract schools of art history and that destruction is not given equal value to creation. Oh the injustice. (My feeling on the matter is that anyone can destroy something but not everyone can create something and that, my friend, is why a greater value is placed on creation.)
Anyway, the proposed solution was, if you can’t feasibly destroy all art, then you should move it all to America because “Americans, if they have enough money, often collect art” (KNOB! KNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOB!). All art related jobs would be confined to the US and all art lovers could live peacefully in their hideously regressive, complacent, upper middle class, cannibalistic paradise. And do you know why this is? I shall tell you – it is because by alleviating Europe of the burden of its art, specifically its masterpieces, we will allow accelerated progress and innovation. No, I don’t understand why either. Science, technology, art, creativity… they are interlinked!
The grand finale sees the author morosely observing that removing these artworks from Europe might result in conflict:
Any attempt at such a transfer – by definition an assault on the national heritage of the nation states – might result in civil war in Europe. It might conceivably lead to military intervention ‘in support of art’, at least the official national heritage. However, given the fundamental opposition between art and iconoclasm, violence seems inevitable anyway.
Some points of clarification here:
- Europe is a continent and not a country therefore it could not engage in civil war – work on your phrasing, young man.
- Defining the physical removal of one or many works of art from one country to another as an assault on national heritage as you have done here says a lot more about your attitude towards national identity than anyone else’s.
- The military would presumably only be called to intervene if you actually had a snowball’s chance in hell of succeeding. I rather get the impression it would just be you trying to do it on your own after a failed attempt to mobilise an “army” via facebook and you would thusly be escorted out of the National Gallery by one of their many overkeen security persons.
- You are advocating relocation of art NOT iconoclasm.
- The fact that you think of art and iconoclasm as antonymic speaks volumes about your understanding of the concept of art. One can perform iconoclastic acts as art.
- Even if this weren’t the case two opposing concepts do not automatically lead to violence. For example, hot and cold have existed for millennia without outbreaks of hostility.
- Finally, earlier you were practically sobbing because creativity was given so much more credit than destruction – are you, in fact, secretly anti-destruction too? Surely you should be rejoicing at the inevitable destruction-fest?!
I have no words to express my complete and utter irritation aside from: KNOB!