Alot has been said recently of the cyclone that has begun to swirl around Loren Feldman. Loren is, and continues to be, my friend first and foremost. Though I know this will be completely offensive to some in the blogosphere, many of whom I respect and see as colleagues, it has to be said.
Artwork is artwork and Loren is an artist. The best art is offensive to somebody. That’s the truth. Take this painting known as Madame X.
According to the story, this piece caused such a stir in 19th century France due to the sexual posturing of the Madame in the photo. The sexuality conveyed with the skin and pink ears was absolutely obscene in French society of 1884. (Source) Today, we would think nothing of this piece of art but in that day, there was a clear message sent about the nature of the society at the time and the truth was offensive.
In the late 80s, the National Endowment for the Arts funded the exhibition of a photograph called Piss Christ which set evangelical Christians on edge. The photograph portrays a crucifix set in a jar of the author’s urine. Some saw the piece as blasphemy while others saw it as an observation of what society has done to Jesus.
The point being that artwork can sometimes be damning. Art, like music, is one of those rare things that provides such an avenue into a person’s soul that sometimes what is seen within is frightening and, like the French of 1884, they don’t confront the issue but shove it back into a dark corner.
Do I believe racism still exists in America? Absolutely. It is one of the worst calamities ever wrought on this nation, and many others. Do I believe Loren Feldman, in his weeklong parody/social experiment, toed the line? Yeah, I do. Did he cross it? Eh… who am I to judge? Is he racist? Heck no.
Many of the people who have defended Loren have done so from the position of first hand experience. I, like many of them, know Loren personally. I’ve spent days with the guy. I’ve slept on his sofa when I was stranded in New York. I laughed with him in San Francisco and Toronto at two different events.
Is he controversial? You betcha. Is he racist? Not a chance.