Omni Historia
Exploration of Art, Objects, Events, and Ideas
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Art Lies: Racial Misrepresentations of History
State Sponsored Art (click here for images)
Art Loves Science
St. Louis Ruin Porn
Forbidden Art (click here for images)
Exploration of Images
Art Lies: Racial Misrepresentations of History When images of historical events and historical figures show those events and people to be something they were not, there are consequences. As we consume images we accept the reality conveyed within them. When Jesus is depicted as a pale skinned man with a European nose and Mary is shown as a blond woman, it becomes easier for Christians to identify Jewish features as foreign and negative. When Africans, such as the ancient Egyptians, are depicted as vaguely French looking, school children are left with a false impression that, by omission of the reality, supports derogotry racial stereotypes. The false witnesses of art history are there for reasons. Messages of power are spread thickly through cultural production in every era. It is up to each of us to comb through the images we encounter and detatch the intentions inherent in their creation and in their reception.
State Sponsored Art (click here for images) STATE SPONSORED ART! - As diplomacy; propaganda; a calling card; a warning; an expression of religious belief and piety; a reminder of past glory; a reminder of hardship that is purposefully made part of the national ethos - all are ways in which nations use visual representation to create their desired identity.

Only in vibrant democracies, however, will one find state funded artwork that is not censored, but free, sometimes even critical of the government that is flipping the bill. 
Art Loves Science  Art and science are both forward looking, creative ventures. The both require looking at the world with untested methods. They are furthered by trial and error. They are progressive movements that build upon and reject the pile of wisdom they climb over and through in order to climb up. 
Is it any wonder that artists and scientists have had a humanity long love affair?
St. Louis Ruin Porn  "Ruin Porn" is a term for the viewing of dilapidated buildings for aesthetic pleasure. I heard it first when I shared with a friend the news that my German brother in law would be flying to Detroit on his summer U.S. trip to photograph the urban decay that has gained international repute. I realized that I am guilty of driving through my fair city with an eye constantly turned toward magnificent facades chiseled into ruins by weather, time and neglect. I do not wish for these buildings to be left to crumble. I understand the terrible implications of allowing St. Louis neighborhoods to discintegrate and want nothing more than widespread urban renewal. Still, a newly rehabbed building is not always as visually interesting as the burnt out bare bones of my dirty, naked, beautiful city.
Forbidden Art (click here for images)

FORBIDDEN ART!
Byzantine Iconoclasm
resulted in the destruction of decorative work on architectural features throughout Constantinople. The driving force behind the iconoclasm in Eastern Orthodox Christendom was likely more than religious: It is worth noting that in 695, when Justinian II put a full-face image of Christ on the obverse of his gold coins, Caliph Abd al-Malik stopped his earlier adoption of Byzantine coin types, replacing them with a purely Islamic coinage with lettering only. Fully engaged in trade with Muslim neighbors, the increasing use of icons in Byzantium can not have been good for business.
Within the Muslim tradition, the act of removing idols from the Holy Ka'ba is believed to be of great symbolic and historical importance. Some (though certainly not all) Muslim societies avoid the depiction of living beings (animals and humans) within sacred spaces. This opposition to figural representation is not based on the Qur'an, but on various traditions contained within the Hadith. The wide diversity of Islamic practice has resulted in many interpretations of what imagery is and is not acceptable. For example, events in the life of Muhammad, the prophets, scenes of Paradise and Hell, and depictions of everyday life of human subjects appear in the beautiful figurative art from Persia created during the late medieval period.
The overwhelming rise of Christianity within the Roman world in the 4th century CE resulted in a centuries long effort to banish stories of the "pagan gods" from the public mind. Only during the Renaissance (~1450-1600 CE) did patrons like the Medici begin to rediscover the legacy of Greece and Rome. Still, artistic themes that strayed from the religious would provide controversy and censorship that artists such as Bellini, Giorgione, and Titian had to navigate as they pushed through notions of what was acceptable in art. 
Artistic censorship in Soviet Russia is presented in the 2011 film, The Desert of Forbidden Art. This award winning documentary depicts the life of Igor Savitsky who "pretends to buy state-approved art but instead daringly rescues 40,ooo forbidden fellow artist's works and creates a museum in the desert of Uzbekistan, far from the watchful eyes of the KGB. Ben Kingsley, Sally Field, and Ed Asner voice the diaries and letters of Savitsky and the artists.

 

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