A few months ago my daughter and I attended an exhibit at Brooklyn Museum: Maximum Sensation by Mounir Fatmi. https://www.brooklynmuseum.org/opencollection/objects/197366
This installation is by a Moroccan born artist named Mounir Fatmi and it is called “Maximum Sensation”. The textiles you see are contemporary copies of traditional prayer rugs that you can buy at Moroccan markets. The combination of skateboarding culture and prayer rugs made as commodity makes a certain point important to all of Fatmi’s work. As he writes in his artist statement: My work “deals with the desecration of religious object, deconstruction and the end of dogmas and ideologies.”Brooklyn Museum Website
The exhibition was of a bunch of skateboards covered in the cheap prayer rugs.
Even though I know the intent of the artist, directly from his brain, I still didn’t feel comfortable about this exhibit. I still felt it was not necessarily in the best taste to put prayer rugs on skateboards, no matter the cost or background of these rugs, or what the point is.
My daughter said that I don’t have the right to be offended because I am not Muslim. She said I should view it as art and a political statement, as which it was intended, not as a direct affront to a religion.
So where do we fall on this? Should we look at something strictly as art, no matter what it’s mocking or what its point is?
Is being offensive part of art, or art movements?
In theory, the artist certainly made a point with me. I am going to remember this exhibit far more than other things that I thought were pretty or serene or fun. This exhibit will stick. But does that make it good or right?
What if I hadn’t read the fine print of the exhibit, as most tend to do? What if I just saw it- no explanation. Would I be justified in being upset or angered? FYI- I have a post in the pipeline about explanations and art work. I’m still forming an opinion, so expect more on this soon.
But…to my original point:
What is the threshold for being offended by something that is not akin to your culture?