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He's not a racist, he just takes pictures of white people

Liberty's picture

One problem I have with slate is pretty simple, endemic cluelessness about racism and sexism. Their critics, by and large, wander around in a haze where privilege, which can be defined as not having to care about what those other people think. Today's example is on Spencer Tunick and is written by Mia Fineman.

Spencer isn't a racist, there just aren't many brown people in the planet he lives on. Mia isn't a racist, she just lives on the same planet.

Mia goes on about why this artist doesn't get respect. She serves up this howler:

Much of Tunick's work, like this installation of 770 naked people lining the floor and balconies of the Municipal Theater in Bruges, Belgium, is not so far removed from Beecroft's in terms of execution. The difference lies in the attitude. Whereas Beecroft cultivates an air of glamour, elitism, and fashionable hauteur, Tunick's approach is shaggy, populist, and a little bit hokey—more like a hippie be-in than a designer fashion shoot.

Now it is one thing to be a clueless amateur, it's another to be a clueless professional. Amateurs often miss things that are obvious, because they are still busy dealing with the impact of it. But someone who can spin out several variations on meditations on transgression, and note Beecroft's attitude and feminism, isn't in the amateur bin of being excused for not seeing the obvious.

What makes this a howler is that Tunick is identified as populist. He's not. He's sensationalist. He isn't taking pictures of nude people, he wants a particualr contrast of color, and that is light. He can't plead location in many instances. Wavy Line is in New York City. It doesn't look like naked New York.

Now, if this were some group of people who were simple paleo about things, then maybe this could be a simple case of never having to face these issues. However, that's not the case. Mia and her subject both go on and on about 1960's avant garde practices and liberation:

Tunick's public installations of nude bodies come out of a confluence of avant-garde practices that took root in the 1960s as artists tried to move art out of the cloistered spaces of museums and galleries and into the world at large. Among the most important precedents are Allan Kaprow's early Happenings—performance-art events staged in lofts, parking lots, and abandoned factories, which often demanded the active participation of audience members—as well as the large-scale environmental installations of Christo and Jeanne-Claude, which also depend on the participation of hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of volunteers.

Or what about Mexico City...

The problem with Tunick as an artist—and the main reason, I think, most critics have ignored him—is that he doesn't seem to have anything to say. His installations are spectacular and attention-grabbing, but as for what it all means … well, to put it bluntly, I don't think it extends too far beyond, "Wow. That's a lot of naked people."

No dear. He does have something to say. That's an awful light of very light skinned people.

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chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

and boys with liquid eyes and soft lips. and other odd looking objects upon which all your perversions may be practiced; economically, legally, culturally.

'people' worth taking naked pictures at must retain that quality about them which entitles them to things like the rule of law (when they want it), property rights, freedom to move about and be private.

when you put naked 'people' next to naked exotic sex objects, some 'people' ask questions and others feel uncomfortable. and the deciderers of who gets to be 'people' don't like that, nor do they believe 'people' should experience such.

Liberty's picture
Submitted by Liberty on

that the critic went on about contemporary art and liberation and hippies and the 1960's and feminism... and didn't see fit to comment on the fact that the photogragher's world isn't our world, and his human family isn't our human family.

She even talks about nazi and war photography and conformity and ... still doesn't get it. She tells us about how he thinks of these as "documents of installations." And still doesn't get it.

It's not the first time that Slate has published this kind of clueless criticism, which is written from the point of view of privilege, and refuses, often aggressively refuses, to acknowledge its own position.

Submitted by lambert on

I, of course, am an exotic sex bunny ....

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

Jakebnto's picture
Submitted by Jakebnto on

I know *I* am often guilty of cluelessness. But then, I am an amateur at everything except being me, at which I am a hopeless hack.


Joe Bourgeois's picture
Submitted by Joe Bourgeois on

You don't know what you're missing.

Hopping down the bunny trail: try it. You'll never go back.

Liberty's picture
Submitted by Liberty on

This is another one of those I have to file in the bin with the other things I can't talk about.

chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

globe-shaped white things found on different lovable creatures, and look at all the perversion it brings out. goodness. /clutches pearls/

i can't believe we get away with the unity pony jokes and keep it so clean, with your dirty minds.

Submitted by lambert on

Uncle Harry's going to come tomorrow and show my and my pony all about the standing rules of the Senate LOL!!!

I'm so happy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.