when does art cross the line? [Archive] - Artist Forum

: when does art cross the line?

02-05-2013, 02:14 PM
Ok I want to throw this out there for discussion. When does art cross the line to the point when it is no longer art. No I'm going to use a very controversial movie as an example. The movie is call Salo, here is a link for it if your not familiar with it http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0073650/ Now I haven't seen the movie, but I've read some reviews, and the plot. Also about how it has been banned all over the place.

The question I'm putting out there is this: Is this film art, or is it the twisted ravings of a very sick mind?

I'm going to paste two opinions on this movie from to ends of the spectrum. So everyone can get a picture of the idea I'm trying to get across.

Here is the first opinion from a guy who posted on the IMDB forum for this film

I'm not an unreasonable guy, and I'm not looking for a fight here with the defenders of gore. I'm fairly well-educated. Professionally, I work in and teach performing arts; stage theatre, specifically. I'm also not a censorious person. Let human beings express themselves, in all their creative glory.

But if art serves a purpose -- not a social function, because I don't buy that premise; art is truly engaged only by the individual -- it's to illuminate the sublime, to bring to the surface the inner visions of the artist, to reveal what other humans cannot see in their own limited imaginations (limited not by ability, but by lack of experience and lack of openness to what lies within themselves). Art is the well-spring of all that's possible, within and because of this great natural gift of human creativity.

What art is not and should never be considered is a free-for-all for anyone who can't tell the difference between illumination and exhibitionism... gratuitous, selfish, even childish exhibitionism. These gore films -- all of them -- fall into that last category. They illustrate no part of the human condition or the human capacity for cruelty that cannot be gleaned from a trip around the evening news. I know humans are cruel, and there is nothing artful about cruelty. Cruelty is not open to art. Dress it up with sexy legitimizing words like "cinema" or "sculpture" all you like, but you're not fooling anyone.

What message is to be gotten from this garbage? The awareness that the world is harsh and contains some humans who will destroy others for their own entertainment? Doesn't history show us that already? You want to witness the lasting effects of cruelty, and its "artful" expression? Then go marvel at the precision of the Jewish holocaust and how efficiently it was carried out. Go get some oven bricks from a Jewish death camp and display them as sculpture in your china cabinet.

This is not to say that all art must be Disney and Jane Austen. Despair and loss and heartbreak and death are natural sufferings -- not cruelties -- and they provide all the tragic subject matter art has ever needed. Death happens. Love fades. Those things do not require conscious acts of human cruelty in order to be carried out, which is why their rendering in art does not wound us, does not repulse us. In fact, it's the opposite; the exposure of these painful elements of natural human life help illuminate the ways humans overcome natural losses. These things infuse art with hope and optimism, because always there is a tomorrow, and Shakespeare and Bergman and even the pessimistic Beckett can show us, through natural tragedy, that we might learn to overcome, if we just open ourselves to the possibility of overcoming.

But these gore films provide a stage for acts that do not deserve it. No one who sees these films is any better for having seen them; in fact, many comments here reflect the real psychological wounding that occurs after viewing. Art does not wound. Art opens the mind to reflection, and inquiry, not psychological damage.

Those of you depraved to the point of tolerance for this trash, have at it. I hope we never reach a point where we ban any form of creative expression. But your application of the term "art" is misplaced. This is not art. Anyone can take a flashlight and shine it on human depravity. Camera angles and lighting decisions do not add any polish to the turd. We might have people among us -- then, now, and forever -- who can't rise above their own lack of human decency and empathy, but as creative thinkers and artists, we ought to be better than this.

Shame on those who can't resist the sick impulse to direct whatever artistic talent they have to something other than gory pornography. For shame.

Ok now here is a response in defense of the film as art.

One person's art is another person's garbage and vice versa. Who's to say that a Jackson Pollock painting has any more value in it than an actual snuff film? All people have their opinion and all opinions are legitimate in art. If someone was legitimately hurt in any art without their permission, then that's crossing a line that is immoral. Up to that point, all bets are off. If someone decides to make a film about the most depraved, horrendous, awful things in humanity and all parties involved are consenting adults, then people should, no NEED, to be allowed that chance. The fascists portrayed in this film were the kind of people that told their citizens what was and was not art. Perhaps the artist has made his point.

So what does everyone on here think?

02-05-2013, 02:44 PM
I think some people just try to call themselves artists because they think they get a free range of what crap they can throw out there...and if you call them on it then they are infringed upon as artists.

Moral Compass; some people are broken or has never worked in the first place...

02-13-2013, 05:28 PM
Yeah, the opinions on this film is polarized. the debate surrounding it is pretty interesting.

06-10-2013, 11:13 PM
I can clear this up really quick. The movie is crap and the debate on weather it should be called art is moot point. Mr. Pasolini has some real repressed sexual anger and I wouldn't be surprised if he struggled with gender identity issues. Mr. Pasolini calling himself an artist is like someone growing a Chia pet and claiming to be a botanist, but they do still sell Chia pets so WTF right??

06-11-2013, 01:02 AM
The beauty and frustration of art can lie in its elusiveness.

I'm a California USA native and I've bern exposed to some very diverse things some people call art, like one artist who was diagnosed with AIDS who, wanting to really put himself in his art exhibited paintings incorporating his saliva, blood, urine, sweat, feces and semen (needless to say in addition to his already controversial choices in mediums, a notable health concern was also present) another artist had taken half inch slabs of animal carcasses (mostly cow) and mounted them in pains...I mean, panes of glass and suspended them from the ceiling....this of course a temporal artform like ice sculptures since as time progressed, the exhibit gradually lost its structural integrity (and began to stink!)

While I don't enjoy or necessarily encourage these and other less conventional forms of so-called artistc expression, they do serve the purpose of exposing deep moral cavaties hidden from the otherwise polished front of society....a manifestation of unacknowledged human depravity where the line between healthy appetite and remorseless hunger blurs within the psyche.

Like grass growing through concrete, our deeper, darker desires (fears and dreads) will surface through the works of artists such as these; like the concrete, our countenances will be broken.

The insulence, insinuation and insidiousness of such works do not negate their inevitability.

I'm not supporting or defending any of that per se, but remembering that to point at something, three of my fingers point back at me.

06-11-2013, 06:55 AM
I agree with you to a point Cory but when you depict teenagers being sexually exploited that's where a line needs to be drawn. I am all for expression and EVERYONE has the right as a human being to be expressive but if we don't draw a line somewhere when will it be a film maker decides to use 6 year olds in a film instead of teenagers?

06-11-2013, 09:46 AM
I totally sympathize with you, joeygn72; I can only assume you misunderstood what I was getting at: in some shape or form, this film reflected something real. Whether or not the details are exact, if this is based on one true story or a collection of accounts or exaggerated for dramatic effect, this art imitated life.

Now if I get what you might be saying, that the actors/actresses themselves were exploited to make yhis film and that the filmmaker(s) were some brand of voyeurs with sadistic, misogynistic, psuedo pedophiliac tendacies...that compliments my point, but there is this, quoted from here (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0073650/trivia):

Despite the grim subject throughout the film, in an interview on the second disc of the Criterion Collection box set, actress Hélène Surgère claimed the mood was actually rather jovial on the set. She said the abundance of teenagers who had never acted before led the mood to be happy and at times, even fun. The played practical jokes on one another which led to this. She also said that the movie was literally "made" in the editing room and the filmmakers had no idea how grim a movie it was until they saw the finished product at the premiere.

It's been commonly said that art imitates life. Oftentimes, it's imitating an artist's abilities, preferences, perspectives, fetishes and preoccupations. The art may resonate with a multitude or just be meaningful personally, but it all is an outpouring from something (even despicable and hideous) within.

Yes...I agree even despite the actresses own account, they were exploited....but then, all art is some form of exploitation.

06-13-2013, 11:31 PM
Has anyone on here actually seen this film?

06-14-2013, 01:47 AM
I watched it the night I posted my original response.

06-16-2013, 12:21 AM
I didn't read through all the comments. Without actually watching this film it looks to me to be a fetish porn film. I'll fight for the creator of this films right to make the film and we have the right to not watch it. But as far as art, well there is a line between nudity done artistically and this stuff. Again without seeing the film I'm guessing that there was explicit sex, violence and nudity in this film.

06-16-2013, 06:39 AM
I was excessive and pointless. I read how bad the movie was and got a copy. I was also told how bad Pink Flamingos was so I got a copy of that and watched it years ago. The reason being I don't want to rant about how bad something is and not have seen it I cant make that judgement. This movie was banned in numerous countries and there is a reason for that. I am not for censorship, this movie was disgusting.

06-20-2013, 09:58 PM
joeygn72, Is this movie as disgusting, and offensive as it's reputation, or is it over hyped? Also the subject matter aside. From a writing, and directing stand point is the film any good?

07-03-2013, 06:25 PM
When someone decides to draw the inside of i dunno some gross part of the body I wont mention?

07-03-2013, 08:37 PM
RELusion,sorry for the tardy response. I think the reputation it received was not an exaggeration,I found it disgusting. Also I'm not a writer or film maker. I know very little about film making or writing a script but that point matters not when the writing was shadowed by the lurid subject matter. I viewed it much like Saw or Hostel.. Just filler and not even decent filler. At least Saw had an intriguing story behind it. Sorry all you Saw/Hostel fans out there.

nonconformist,I find the inside of the body really gross. So from my perspective is if it's inside let it stay inside. I can handle seeing a penis in art or whatever,I don't go looking in the toilet when I'm done and think "man I gotta draw that!"

09-28-2013, 06:24 PM
Part of what disturbed me about studying art in the 18th cen. to date, is that many very sick people made art...and I left social work, and won't go to exhibitions that are clearly made by the severely mentally ill.

10-02-2015, 11:08 AM
When something affects us, it's due to a reflection of what's within ourselves more so than what's within the mind of the artist. The fear (and all antagonism forthcoming) felt in response to violent art is, in my opinion, worthy of consideration.

Why something was created is, in my opinion, irrelevant. Why I feel the way I feel about it is what matters, and that has nothing to do with the existence of the art itself, or the one who created it.

I felt particularly ill when I saw the movie The Human Centipede (and its sequels), and consider it to be the worst movie ever made. But why should I draw a line in the proverbial sand and reject it, and others like it, because I dislike it? For me, there would be nothing productive in this line of reasoning. You can't unring a bell (particularly in this case, because I will never forget it). Instead it becomes another tool for learning more about myself, whether or not that was the artist's intention.

10-02-2015, 03:03 PM
My answer to that is I do not want what I do not like to be part of me. Everything we see, smell, touch, physically feel (as in sick or not), hear, say and emotionally feel, becomes a part of us (minuscule but still a part) and stays with us subconsciously for our life time, and if you believe in the akashic records for eternity. I avoid violence because I do not want violence to be part of me, same with confusion, depression, demonic things, etc. This is not a totally hard fast rule with me. I've been known to watch a scary movie now and then. But a generality. I also try to avoid hard fast rules.

Susan Mulno
10-02-2015, 03:19 PM
I am with Terry here on most of what she said. Image in, image stays. I avoid watching or reading about torture and brutality and the like as much as possible, it does in essence become part of us. I am not worried about taking it with me because when I get to heaven all such uncleanness cannot follow. But it bothers me greatly at times during my life. Too much of this stuff happens too often to call it entertainment or, I think, art. Too many of my brothers and sisters are being horrendously slaughtered to give any room to seeing such things by choice.

10-08-2015, 10:22 AM
First off; haven't seen the movie, won't see the movie. I just know myself well enough to know that no good will come from that. So the next bit will be about gory, high-shock-factor-stuff in general and not all of it will probably be equally applicable to this movie.
I also feel the need to point out that I am no fan of stuff like this at all and am not defending creepy sexual perverts in any way. Not that I think anyone here will go for such a cheap shot, but just wanna have it out there.

Having said that, I'm not against gory stuff being seen as art in certain cases altogether, but it does really depend on the thing itself. What it's trying to do, how it does it, that sort of thing.
I think for me the bottom line with things like this is; is the gore necessary to get the artist's point across/does it serve the plot or ideology in any way, or is it a cheap shot at attention and/or emotion, much like your average fanservice? In the first case, I don't have too much of an issue with it, because sometimes you need to be more graphic if you want to tell a certain story, and sometimes a more tactful approach is better. I'm against watering down a piece to spare the audience, but at the same time I am also against adding unnecessary gore just to shock. Tell what needs to be told, show what needs to be shown. No more, no less.

Is it sick? Absolutely. Is there a chance we would rest safer if the creator of it gets a nice, snug straightjacket? Probably. But I don't think art has to be pleasing or safe, necessarily. Something that I find absolutely disgusting, repulsing, sickening and immoral can still be art.
For me, a certain part of my personal definition of what I think art can be, among many other things, is it's capability of being provocative, to make some waves, give people something to seriously discuss.
Lady Gaga's meat dress was a good example of that. I would not want a thing like that anywhere near my body, but boy, did she get people riled up. I like that aspect of provocative art. People still talk about it, still reference it.
As my favorite game reviewer once said; "You see, I get angry, but angry is not bored. Angry gets shit done."
I think he has a point there. The internet is very good at having two opposing teams scream at each other, but despite that, controversial, angering art is often a good starting point for discussion.

These days it takes a lot to shock us. I am genuinely surprised sometimes how unfazed I am by a lot of things. Disappointed as well. Nasty things, too. Once got on a gore-blog by accident. Not something I would ever seek out again, but it left me oddly unaffected; it was hardly worse than what we often see on the news. The only difference was that the person behind that blog sought stuff like it out for their own sick amusement, probably.
So, with that in mind, it doesn't surprise me that artists are trying to see how far they need to go to get a rise out of people and in a sense it is interesting to see how much it takes to shock almost everyone. To see what it takes for us to be completely grossed out en masse.
And true, there are going to be people that use that as a cover to make nasty fetish porn, but I fear it's always going to be difficult to fully read the intentions behind such extreme things. And at least if they put it out there, they're easier to keep an eye on, I guess.

This whole thing kind of reminds me of Emily's Video. It was a project by Eva and Franco Mattes, in which they allegedly dug up a video from the deep web, invited random people they did not know to watch it in front of their webcams, after having warned them that it would be the worst video ever so they would know what they were getting into, and afterwards they claimed to have destroyed the video so the reaction videos of these people would be the only proof the video ever existed.
Now, wether or not all of this is true (I doubt it, as there are a few holes in the story, since I find it hard to believe that if the video was indeed so terrible, at least one person would have been clever enough to secretly capture the footage to send to authorities, perhaps anonymously, but yeah), the idea behind it, was kind of exposing people's voyeurism; the people that joined knew they would be watching something terrible, yet still pressed on.
In a Dutch magazine someone explained this as follows; apparently, we tend to still watch stuff like this, so we 'know what to avoid'. Basically, learning what horrors are possible, to be more on guard, to be mentally prepared, I guess.
It could be that very voyeurism that movies like this one are kind of targeting. Like they are saying 'we made this, but you guys still choose to watch it, even though you've been warned.'
Because in essence, it may very well have somewhat similar thing going on as there is when people deliberately seek out videos of IS beheadings.

I'm actually not entirely sure where I'm going with this, to be honest. I guess I just kind of wanted to get it off my chest or something? Who knows. Not me.
Perhaps the bottomline of this could be that 'art' in an on itself, for me personally, does cross a certain line, but deliberately so. I feel like that is kind of it's thing. Now, that of course does not make such things tasteful, and neither should it put artists above the law or anything like that, but personally I am not against it being art.
A lot of times, it does cross personal lines for me, big time too, but I don't see art as something I need to agree with. It can be beautiful and captivating, but also frightening, infuriating and, from my point of view at least, wrong.

Hope this wall of text makes sense. I feel like I'm being all over the place with it. Oh well.

12-12-2015, 08:10 AM
OP...I'd say art is whatever a person says.