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Thursday, November 04, 2010

Art appreciation

So, I found today's post on Pandagon interesting and pretty much spot on (though I have a weird love for Taylor Swift's music).

However, the idiots in the thread getting all defensive because they thought the image used in the post was sexy when it clearly isn't are making Diana cry. Tell me, dear readers--what comes to mind when you look at this image, regardless of what you know or remember about The Iliad?

This image is one of general desecration. The woman is being carried bodily over the shoulder of a muscular man whose fists are clenched; she is nearly naked with her clothing being torn open; she is reaching back toward the atlar, presumably in supplication to the goddess. There is no sexy here. Furthemore, there is plenty of context for the image, given that the title of the post refers to "Cassandra" and "Troy". Even if you don't know who Cassandra is, this image is about the victors of that war--and who where they? Not the Trojans! What happens when a war is won? Raping and pillaging, that's what!

It doesn't take an art major. This is not deep artistic theory, this isn't even that deep of a painting--it's what's THERE. I think the author of the original post taking some time to point out to her readers the pitfalls of associating "naked female form" with "sexy" and particularly "naked female form being overpowered by male" with "sexy" would be good, since it's a feminist blog often concerned with popular culture, art, and entertainment.


Carla said...

I don't think there's necessarily anything wrong with linking a naked body to sex - that's a natural instinctual feeling, especially considering the heavy pathos of the scene depicted here. But if someone's saying this is porn or something, then they have some issues to work on. At first I was thinking it was a depiction of the Rape of Persephone, or Bouguereau's Rape of Psyche. Ironic how I'm saying it's not sexual when they use "rape" to mean "kidnapping" in the titles ...

Diana said...

I agree that thinking of sex when viewing a naked body is a typical instinct. However in this case I think the symbolism of the painting is pretty clear, without the viewer even needing to know what the background or subject matter really is.

The commenter at Pandagon that I found issue with referred to the painting as "sexy" and then when someone else pointed out that it depicted a woman being kidnapped as a spoil of war, fell back on the excuse that s/he hadn't read The Iliad since middle school. S/he didn't think it was pornographic, but it bothered me that apparently all the commenter SAW was "naked woman". Sexy, naked woman. I guess my concern is that viewers of a painting like this still read it as sexy when all aspects of it point toward a violation of some kind, even people who read a blogger who often posts about female sexuality and use of sex imagery in media.

As far as the term "rape" goes, you make a good point about how it was often used in older times, such as "Rape of the Sabine Women" and "Rape of Persephone", which is something modern viewers/readers don't always know. I suppose I would still argue for a sexual component, especially as far as the Sabine Women are concerned, since they were kidnapped for purposes of breeding.

BUT, I am a snob. And I miss taking classics courses. :B

Carla said...

Agreed, whenever I had room for an elective I always went for the classical studies. I annoyed my husband in DC this past weekend by pointing out which columns were Doric and which were Ionic. haha

I agree, I went and saw the comment and I was thinking, really? At least they called it "dramatic" too I guess.

Diana said...

Ooh ooh were there any Corinthian columns? :D I've never been to DC and what I'd like to see most about it is all the classical architecture.

Carla said...

I don't recall any Corinthian columns, but it is indeed one of those things that doesn't disappoint. You might see it on TV, but it's that much more awesome in person. Everywhere you look there's an awesome building with massive columns and statues and monuments!

Unlike Las Vegas, which for me was a huge disappointment. Especially Caesar's. *shudder* Cheap imitations of real architecture, in my opinion. And filthy. My feet were black after walking down the street in flip-flips all day. I had to throw the shoes out; they were ruined!

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