Sculpture banned from the Venice Biennale
"A sculpture by German artist Gregor Schneider was banned from the 51st Venice Biennale because the event’s organisers said it might be offensive to Muslims. The sculpture was a 15-metre-high cube covered in black fabric modelled after the Ka’ba in Mecca and was set to be displayed in St. Mark’s Square. A spokesman for the Venetian arts authority said there was a danger that Muslims would feel provoked by the work, heightening the risk of the city being vulnerable to terrorist attacks. Schneider insisted that the artwork was not meant as a provocation. He said he wanted to symbolise a connection between European and Arab cultures. The organisers tried to place the sculpture at another site, but finally decided not to display it at all. Instead, Schneider showed a video explaining his failed attempt."
Hugh Fitzgerald has written an important commentary on the above item.
Can't happen here, you say? I'm afraid that it can. Already we are so far down the road to the policitical correctness of "We must not offend Muslims" that the mere prospect of perceived offense causes Americans to tippy-toe around. And in reaction to the alleged incidents regarding the Koran at Gitmo, CAIR has launched their "Explore the Quran" project, hot on the heels of their CAIR Library Project. See http://www.cair-net.org/explorethequran/ and http://www.cair-net.org/libraryproject/ . Meanwhile, Anti-CAIR is dealing with a lawsuit, which is nothing short of an attempt at censorship. See http://socialsense.blogspot.com/2005/06/web-sued-by-muslim-group.html .
"Statues, like paintings of any living creature, are forbidden in Islam. If the Bamiyan Buddhas managed for centuries to survive in Islam, it was only because the technical wherewithal was lacking. Once the Taliban acquired enough Western-produced explosives, they could finish the job.
"A little booklet, possibly the most pathetic guide to an art museum ever published, is the 'Guide to the Kabul Museum.' I have a copy, published in 1964, long before the Taliban arrived on the scene to see Islamic justice done. There are a few dozen pages, a handful of photographs. It is clear that the ancient Greco-Buddhist civilization of Afghanistan, and of all other non-Islamic civilizations, were reduced mostly to rubble -- the flying rubble that we see whenever we see pictures of Afghanistan.
"For in Islam, the pre-Islamic or non-Islamic artifacts are of no interest, no valuable. They can be destroyed, they should be destroyed. The tens of thousands of Hindu temples destroyed by the Muslim invaders, a partial list of which was compiled by Sita Ram Goel, are perhaps the best-known example.
But what of everything that might have gone into that Kabul Museum but never made it?
"The greatest destruction of art works in human history is that wrought by Muslim conquerors on the non-Muslim lands and peoples they invaded, conquered, and subjugated.
"What will happen in Europe if it is islamized? If there are already people removing statues, however banal those statues may be, from art expositions now, what will happen in 10 years? In 20 years? Already statues have been vandalized or destroyed by Muslims -- in the Piazza del Popolo, and in a church in northern France (a statue of Mary and Jesus). Muslims have been recorded discussing their plans to destroy a celebrated fresco in Bologna that depicted Muhammad in Hell. What else is happening, and is being suppressed from us by worried European governments, whose elites, having been responsible for permitting millions of what are clearly enemy aliens, a classic fifth column, behind our own lines, cannot bring themselves to recognize the problem, and instead are intent on hiding the full truth from their own populations?..."
Now, back to the issue of art appreciation. I don't often visit The National Gallery of Art, but when I do, I don't notice many Muslims there, unless there is an exhibit specific to Islam, such as one which extolled the brutal Salladin (I hope I have that name correct. The exhibit to which I am referring is one which I visited several years ago and largely contained tapestries).
I'm guessing that most of the depictions at the NGA are offensive to Muslims, so they don't visit. Fair enough. But how far away are we from a situation similar to the ones in Italy or in France?
If Mr. Fitzgerald is accurate in his commentary--and I believe that he is--some of the works of art which you appreciate today may be forbidden in the future. We had better have a good look at them while we can, because the day may come when the only view we have of those classic works will be in coffee-table volumes.