Thursday, February 26, 2009

OPINION: What makes art vandalism happen?

This is in response to a question submitted by Janet Van Fleet and posted on February 23, 2009. Further responses will be posted as they are received.

by Clair Dunn

Don't forget, we live in a country that has developed, over the last 60 years, a strong tradition of anti-intellectualism. With this comes a complete lack of respect for creativity and individualism and also the idea that if you can't understand "something", or, if "someone" is significantly different from you, those things or people are of no value.

The great dichotomy in this country is the constant boast of our national strain of independence and individuality and the equally constant disparagement of independent individuals.

Of course those who destroyed Van Fleet's work don't go through these thought processes, but, because they live in a society where elected representatives often denounce the NEA, where music and art are among the first cuts in a tight education budget, and the word "elite" has become a very satisfying put-down, they have absorbed the essentials by osmosis.

So, as a nation, we too often destroy what we either dislike or cannot understand. In so doing, we feel like we've made a positive, cleansing, contribution to the society we want.