|False Idols - 022814|
I read a dark humored piece at The Onion concerning the recent trials and tribulations of Woody Allen and the allegations by Mia Farrow's daughter, Dylan about his sexually abusing her as a child*. In this satirical piece, the Onion makes us confront a difficult question - how do we reconcile our appreciation of Allen's creative greatness and the quandary his alleged actions puts his fans and supporters in? I recently read a piece about a similar conundrum about appreciating the musical production genius of Phil Spector while contending with his sick masochistic nature. My internal question is, can we still appreciate their art?
There are multiple artists in most genres that have created critically acclaimed art that was tarnished by their actions, behaviors, beliefs, etc. Along with Spector and Allen, Roman Polanski fled to exile to avoid a trial for raping a 13 year old girl. Polanski also created the masterpiece, Chinatown. I still relish watching that movie, but wonder if I should watch it due to Polanski's history.
Maybe there are two questions. First, can someone be redeemed by their art? Second, if they can't be redeemed by it, can we still appreciate it as its own entity while not heaping praise upon its creators?
I believe in redemption, but it comes from actions to mediate and remedy the sins. The guilty must make amends before redemption. From what I've seem, none of these accused have taken a step toward redemption through their art. So, that answers the first question.
Should we separate art from the artists? When I create art, most of the pieces have no title and at most a brief artist statement on the series. I don't have a reputation beyond a few friends and fellow artists, so my art is not viewed and commented on as a piece by Karl, but just what the viewer sees, feels, interprets, and comments upon. I greatly appreciate hearing feedback on my art without my name tinting the view. When I am the consumer of the art, I enjoy taking it in without being influenced by the artist's legend following it. By doing that, I can better relate to it and find my own meaning. Sadly though, when the creator has a big reputation, regardless if it is good or bad, will influence my reception of the art. Even more sad, I will have to try to account for his/her sins when consuming the art.
So is there any way to view art this way and appreciate it? I may have found a way by actually bringing the artist into it. I plan to start looking into the art to see if the artist's sins can be found in their creations. I am not trying to be an investigator or anything, but trying to understand if some elements of what makes him/her evil lives in the art. By looking how evil either explicitly or subtly gets into art we may be able to learn where our own sins seep out of us.
* Woody Allen has not been convicted of the allegations brought against him in this post.