It turns out that Mattress Girl and I have one thing in common, we both think that Jackson Pollock is over rated as an artist. It would probably pain her to hear that, just as watching this video on classical art vs. modern art would probably pain her:
However, I read these things so you don’t have to…. but if you really want all the ugly details you can find it here: https://broadly.vice.com/en_us/article/mattress-girl-emma-sulkowicz-is-backand-channeling-her-rage-through-bdsm
“We’re acting out this sadistic-masochistic relationship between the institution with all of its financial power, and this program that wants to be political but can’t be really because it’s being tied up by this institution,” Sulkowicz explained.
Mattress Girl does a LOT of explaining about how she is tied up into an institution. What she doesn’t explain is why she doesn’t leave, what freedoms are denied her to exercise her own agency.
“My body already carries material in it just because of the way I look, it’s embedded in my skin,” Sulkowicz explained. “White men have the privilege of entire institutions built for their paintings… These paintings are very often abstract. You have people like Pollock splattering a bunch of shit and then saying it’s art. It doesn’t say anything political and in fact, that actual political statement it does say is: ‘I’m a white man and I can do whatever the fuck I want and make a ton of money off of it.'”
Please Mattress Girl, tell us all about your experience being a white male, we are so fascinated by your insight. However Jackson Pollock got his little bit of success the old fashioned way, by having a Patron (er…”Patroness”?) in the form of Peggy Guggenheim. Then he killed himself in a car crash due to using alcohol to self medicate his mental health issues, which has to be the very definition of white male privilege.
The painful reality that more than a dozen sexual assault allegations against Trump had little to no bearing on his ultimate election shows that we “still have so much work to do,” Sulkowicz explained. “Our words still don’t have political effect or ramifications.”
Yes dear, allegations without any proof aren’t supposed to have either political effect or ramifications. The difference between Anthony Weiner and Donald Trump is simply one met the burden of proof for conviction, the other didn’t. Simply engaging in character assassination doesn’t work on middle America anymore, people are just tired of the mudslinging and are willing to wait for proof (unless it isn’t your guy, then clearly no proof needed).
If there is one thing that I could tell Mattress Girl, it is this:
“If art requires an explanation…it isn’t.”
This definition of “art” as something that inherently is as a universal expression of art, is like “humor.” Even if someone doesn’t appreciate a joke, that they understand that it IS a joke and is funny to someone else is why Jackson Pollock’s name is fairly well known (even a soiled painting apron can be mistaken for his work). Hell, even the definition of “sex” or “pornography” can be famously summed up as “I know it when I see it!” referencing the notion that there is some Platonic ideal out there that defines all sex or pornography.
The old phrase, “Art is in the eye of the beholder” doesn’t mean that anything can be art, it means that it requires some agency to appreciate art, that art is an interaction between the consumer and the art.
And this is why art as a political statement is quickly dated. Like the laurel leaves on a returning hero’s head, they wilt quickly and are forgotten by the once adoring masses.
Secondly, using BDSM as an even more desperate stunt to get attention (first carry the mattress, second stunt make the “not rape” video, third stunt public shibari and spankings) is a helluva slap in the face of kinksters everywhere. BDSM first and foremost isn’t about abuse, or exploitation, it is about being honest with your needs and finding someone you have compatible kink to meet both your needs. Turning that very authentic relationship into a spectacle of bad political theater is frankly the very “cultural exploitation” that Mattress Girl and other social justice warriors cry about. But then again, it’s not bad when they do it, right?
Hell, even Broadly couldn’t get it right, a male sadist is called a “Dominant” and a female sadist is called a “Dominatrix.” A masochist of either sex is a “submissive” unless you are also into degradation and objectification then “pain slut” or even “gimp” are appropriate.
And this….this is why we can’t take Mattress Girl seriously about her politics. She doesn’t understand how offensive her “art analogy” is to people who enjoy BDSM as a lifestyle and culture. Essentially she has turned herself into the “Piss Christ” artist of her generation, trying to shock people into giving her attention in a desperate bid for relevance.
Now I’m not going to say that performance art isn’t art. Performance art can have a very powerful effect on consumers. For example:
The scientist in me understand WHY a viewer watching that scene, hearing that music, would actually feel the emotions of bittersweet memories flowing through them. That is a gift from our mirror neurons, and is a part of our animal past to allow group harmony as empathy allows groups to function, and functioning groups have higher survival rates. But I still feel it, and I appreciate that there were cameras ready to capture that moment of performance art.