Friday, October 22, 2010

Art, Contradiction, And The Asshole Who Says What He Wants

We have a brand new column starting here on our blog and would like to thank Brian L. Mullen III for coming on board. With his candid storytelling and pointed views we know it will be a welcome addition. Brian Mullen is a tattoo artist from Providence, RI and has played in a plethora of bands in the North East such as She Rides, Crippler Cross Face, Tabernackle, Unsung and Bullet Eater. His preference in music ranges from classical to black metal, finds beauty in vintage Matchless motorcycles and is a solid visual communicator.

Needless to say you will be hearing more from Brian and we will be posting a link to his blog and work quite soon. In the interim, check out his first post below as he hits the nail on the head.

Art, Contradiction, and the Asshole Who Says What He Wants
By Brian L Mullen III

Free speech. Lets talk about this for a little bit here. Free speech is one of the certain inalienable right that was declared with our independence and clearly stated in the constitution. It is what makes America as good as it is (along with a few other things). Free speech is the soap box under foot and also that thorn in the sides of everyone that has a cause, or wants to defend or fight for something. As an example i recently read a few people posting about getting a page dedicated to legalizing dog fighting removed from facebook. I do not condone dog fighting (cock fights are way funnier) but I do believe that this person has the right to say they support this cause. I know it drives people crazy as it sometimes does to me but if we remove this persons right to say what he thinks those that oppose us could make it so we don't have the right to say what we believe.

This is not a rant about dog fighting which I think is a cruel and inhumane practice.

I want to write about several things that have happened to me in the last few weeks that make me feel, besides hurt, annoyed that my friends would want to censor what someone else has to say. Now I have had a few comments deleted by friends recently because they might stir controversy. I do have a habit of writing wise-ass comments to people, but in doing so I have been either joking to make light of a serious situation, or trying to show people that their statement might be a shared one but not from the same point of view. One of these happened out of ease. My friend who normally would have laughed at my comments and known that I was making light of a bad situation removed said comments to make his home life easier. His significant others family are much less likely to understand my jokes and would not ask me about what I meant by said comments. Although offended, I do understand that he did this not out of disregard for my opinion, but out of not wanting to have a very uncomfortable conversation over the thanksgiving day dinner table.

I had someone remove a comment for reasons I do not clearly understand. I have a few guesses as to why someone who is very opinionated would want to deprive someone else of their opinion, especially since mine contradicts theirs. I tried to make it in such a way that it was understood to be a minor difference of opinion and let her know that her comments were as offensive to me as some might find mine. I ended it with what I thought to be a funny comment to really enforce the "we disagree but, oh well, it doesn't matter" attitude that I try to keep. That attitude I can only guess was not shared. No explanation was offered, no comments made back, just remove the contrary opinion so it looks like no one argues with what was stated. There might be other issues that led to the removal of the comment but if that was the case maybe something could have been said about it. I continue on with this last comment on these actions. If you don't want to hear what what people have to say in response to your posts or photos, don't post them. Make your settings private so that these things that upset your delicate sensibilities off of a public forum.

Now my main reason for writing this is based in the tattoo world and the very weak link that connects that world to the fine art world. That statement might piss some people off but that is my opinion, if you have a contrary one please feel free to share it, as I will not delete it no matter how offensive I may or may not find it. I am not of the opinion that all tattoo artists are fine artists, likewise I don't think that all artists would make good tattoo artists. In fact I would go so far as to say I think most artists who think they would be awesome tattoo artists are mistaken and the opposite is even more accurate. But if we are to accept art with open arms regardless of merit or qualifications, then we have to accept it across the board. I am not saying that I want to agree with this, I am horribly judgmental when it comes to art. I am opinionated and pigheaded and I love way less than I hate and I like maybe as much as I dislike, but I will defend anyone's right to do what they want in the art realm. I however also reserve the right to voice my opinion on said art be it positive or negative.

I was asked to take part in a group show which had an open invite. I at first declined and then when inspiration struck I did a painting, framed it, and then called to check and make sure that it was still within a time frame that it could be submitted to the show. It was approved time wise so I dropped off the painting knowing that it would not be making everyone happy. I did not do a painting to make friends, nor did I do it to kiss anyone's ass, nor did I even do it to try and fit in with some imagined in-crowd. I did a painting that i thought would have good flow, be funny, and would state something that I could stand behind. Now maybe people think that common ground make friends, I do not. I do not base my friendships on a share thing, I base them on a feeling and enjoyment of someones company. I am friends with some people that tattoo, but I'm not friends with them because they tattoo nor am I friends with everyone who tattoos. I don't troll facebook looking for other tattoo artist to become friends with. I don't need to sit there and blow smoke up someones ass about their tattoos so they will do the same to me. Now if you are someone who does that, good for you. Sorry I sound so offensive when I talk about it but I find it incredibly shallow and most of the time very pathetic. I do know some people who belong to forums and talk to other artist about work related things and that I think is great and wanting to expand your knowledge is awesome. The superficial, "shake your hand stab you in the back" mentality of tattooing and the art that surrounds that world is crap. Stating that in a painting should not be so offensive if you have strength of character and confidence in your actions. Now my painting that people found offensive simply states that I don't base my friendships on something so superficial as a profession. I am not my job nor is my job what defines my character.

What I personally find very offensive is that stating a fact is considered insulting but putting swastikas in paintings is considered risque, or funny. It's not. If it is done in a political statement or for a specific reason (see the works of Manuel Ocampo) then fine but when done for simple shock value it is pure stupidity. Just to really remind any tattoo artist who may get to read this, almost 6 million Jews were killed about 70 million people in general were killed during WWII, so doing a swastika in a painting or in a flash sheet isn't really funny. if you want to make jokes between you and a friend go nuts, but to put something down for posterity, to leave your work for the foreseeable future with swastikas in it is a political statement and sadly one that most of you don't realize you're making. So in the end my main point on free speech is feel free to do what you want but remember that free speech also entitles others to make whatever statement they would like to make. And just as you would judge what someone else does, they might judge what you do to be equally as offensive. I apologize if I have gotten off course with this, I have been known to ramble when I write, but hopefully the points are all there and easy enough to understand. Thanks for your time.