Iconoclasm

The prolific Daily Dish links to a willfully provocative art exhibition in Los Angles, entitled “Merry Titmas”. Andrew makes the point that such ‘provocative’ shows are actually pretty run-of-the-mill and lacking in real bravery.

My general rule with “brave” outsider anti-religious art is to ask if they’d do to Islam what they do routinely to Catholicism. Most don’t. Poseurs are often cowards.

This is a surprisingly immature comparison to make, given the two religions’ very different attitudes to icons and imagery. Christianity, and Catholicism in particular, makes no bones about exploiting the images of its deities. The powerful and often visceral images of Christ, and the invariably erroneous images of the Madonna and Child, are central to the Church’s propaganda. By contrast, Islam guards against such crassness by forbidding any visual depiction of Mohammed, Peace be Upon Him, in any form (be it High Art, cartoons, or the modern medium of teddy bear).

So creating a disrespectful image for one religion is not really comparable to creating a similar image for another, because the critique and satire that underpins the artist’s intent in one context, is not always applicable to another. I agree with Andrew that these artists tend to be ‘poseurs’, and in other areas, I’m sure that one can make the “would you do it for Islam?” comparison. But unfortunately, that argument doesn’t hold for icons and iconoclasm.

3 Replies to “Iconoclasm”

  1. Sorry to have caused offence. To be clear, I’m dealing with Andrew’s “general rule”, not making a defence of those who cannot handle a cartoon or an oddly named teddy bear.

  2. Oh don’t worry about me Robert: As I v fond of saying: offense has to be intended – it cannot be “taken” and I don’t for a moment think you’re being offensive, just, well, to be honest I’m not sure what you’re being. I think that’s my point.

    “I’m dealing with Andrew’s “general rule””
    Even at that level, I think you’re being wilfully stupid Robert.

    I very very much doubt that Andrew is suggesting that PRECISELY the same allegory that is used against Catholicism or whatever be deployed against Islam. It’s the level of provocativeness or challenging-ness (if I’m allowed to all Rowan Atkinson for a mo) that matters, not the content or iconography.
    This is perhaps what he is talking about.

    The really notable thing is that even to acknowledge your self-censorship apparently takes enormous courage.

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