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  1. #11
    dr bob's Avatar
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    [quote="

    Last year I took the family to Six Flags Over Texas and was armed with my usual Nikon and 35mm lens. At one point I saw a group of adults with matching hats and shirts, all males. It was a group of retarded (I know, mentally disabled) youths from probably a Bethpage or similar home. When I was younger, one of these homes was across the street from my parents, so I got to know the clients there and the caregivers and the every day challenges, ups and downs of the retarded.

    As I saw this group I knew they were having a wonderful time. There was a look of excitement and joy and freedom on their faces. the caregives also were having a great time. I sort of walked around following them looking for the right shot, something to display this joy, But I thought, maybe I am the only one who knows what is going on. Someone else would see the photo and say I was being exploitive. And even though I though my intentions with the image were good, if I were to post it on the web others might see the youths and laugh ridicule them. So I didn't take the picture.[/quote]

    Jim:

    I was Chairman of the Board of the Chesterwye, a service organization dedicated to the aid and deveopment of mentally retarded (Yes, we use the term) adults. Developmentally challanged is just one level of retardation - there are more and less severe conditions.

    You should have no quams at all about photographing our clients and care givers. Most would apprecite the honor. All would take great pleasure that someone exhibited so much interest. What you do with the image is somewhat different. I'm sure your personal morality would prevent any exploitation and what others may say or think is not important, is it? I'm sure there are people, I refuse to call them photographers, who would "pose" our clients in "compromising" conditions just to produce a sensational image for sale. If that ever happens they will have to deal with me - and I can be very disagreeable ;-)

  2. #12

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    I personally like the view that the Bhutanese ascribe to those with mental disabilities like this. They feel that they are souls who have too much good karma for their mere human bodies to deal with and that they are here to teach us.

    Jorge - Thanks for that quote. I will be sure to print it out for that discussion. Hard to argue with a man who lives in that culture. Witkin's work is so offensive to me it is beyond words. Especially in light of the beauty and love that goes in Dia de los Muertos. The folk art that comes out of that one holiday is one of my favorites.

    Everyone else - To me, the issue of immorality comes from the way in which the art is created.

    Example -

    If someone commits a murder, and films it, should they be allowed to profit from it?

    The law in the U.S. (and most places) says no.

    Witkin's early works were based wholly on the comission of an extremely heinous crime.

    How is displaying or selling any fo his work different than displaying or selling a picture of a child being raped or say a snuff film?
    Official Photo.net Villain
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    [FONT=Comic Sans MS]DaVinci never wrote an artist's statement...[/FONT]

  3. #13

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    Michael, none of the instances you mention are a crime, what Witkin did was and is. Even more so the typical Da Vinci argument and his anatomical drawings are always use to justify Witkin, even though I dont condone Da Vinci's practice, those were another times, supposedly we have matured and evolved, and even then he did in the search of knowledge, Witkin did it for prurient reasons, his only desire was to shock and revolt the viewer and gain fame at the same time.

    Obviously the glaring questions is, why didnt he do it in the US? I am sure we all know the answer, so you see, it is not so much what he did, how he did it, etc. It is the lack of character and if you all excuse my expression lack of balls. If he was so sure what he was doing is art, then he should have done it in the US and take his chances and defend his action under the first amendment rights. The fact that he came to Mexico to commit illegal acts shows the kind of person he is and the message his art conveys.

  4. #14
    lee
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    no huevos de toro I think Jorge is the correct way of putting it.


    lee\c

  5. #15
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    it seems to me (from Robert's original post) that his fellow students will be arguing that

    "Well, Michelangelo and many other artists robbed graves. This is the same. Don't impose your values on him. Blah blah blah."

    This is just cultural relativism and as such Robert's counter-argument that Witkin:

    "is disrespecting the Mexican culture by not respecting their ancient and deeply rooted views of death and dying."

    They are therefore supporting an act which defies cultural relativism with cultural relativism and contradictions are a logical no-no.

    (Cultural relativism in a nutshell is the idea that morality is just that, relative to each individual culture and therefore we cannot place blame on any culture for what they do within their bounds--this includes genocide, slavery, and the oft-used example of clitorectomies.)
    Let's see what I've got in the magic trash can for Mateo!

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  6. #16

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    I disagree Jeremy, there certain values that trascend cultural relativism. You dont have sex within your family, you dont eat dead people and certainly you respect the sanctitiy of the deceased.

    Sure, you can say well such and such tribe in the deepest regions of the amazon do eat their enemies...yeah sure, and they still think the sun is God the earth is flat and walk around naked....

    I am sorry but cultural relativism sounds to me as a very convenient excuse for the wrong that a society has inflicted on its members. According to this theory, what Hitler did was perfectly reasonable and in keeping with the times....nope, I dont buy it...

  7. #17

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    Exactly. According to cultural relativism, it was probably OK for the Nazis to wipe out most of Europe. We all just have to understand them and respect their decision to murder everyone in sight. Hitler just had "isues" and we were all just being mean when the good guys fought back. I wonder why, we are all practically ordered to respect and put up with other people no matter how weird, infuriating or abusive they are, but somehow they never have to play by the same rules. Political correctness run amok. Too one sided. Bottom line is, instead of this grave robber demanding that we respect him for his "art", maybe instead he should have respected our "cultures" which are offended and disgusted by grave robbing.

  8. #18
    Ole
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    When I mentioned Andres Serrano, I was not thinking of "Piss Christ", but his "Morgue" series. I believe this to be somewhat more relevant to the discussion.

    Perhaps this is an example of "Cultural Relativism"? As a non-catholic (and even non-christian), I did not find the "Santeria" series disturbing at all...
    -- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
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  9. #19

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    Well, as Jeremy pointed out, the problem here is that many people use cultural relativism to defend Witkin. Yet what Witkin did was completely ignore the morality and ethics of the Mexican culture.

    The irony being that all these kids (most are like 19 or 20) who are usually so concerned with respecting other cultures etc. tend to defend a guy who has NO respect for anyone but himslef and his own deisres. Ironically Witkin is the quintessential "White Male Oppressor" that these kids rail against.

    Yet because he cloaks himself in the title of "artist" he must be defended in their minds.

    The hypocrisy is insane.
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  10. #20
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    note: I'm NOT defending cultural relativism, I'm just stating that it is the argument Robert's saying his classmates will probably use, but this is self-defeating due to how he procured the bodies for the photos.
    Let's see what I've got in the magic trash can for Mateo!

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