Should the relief on Stone Mountain be destroyed?

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Should the Confederate memorial on Stone Mountain be sandblasted out of existence?

Absolutely!
2
10%
Probably.
7
33%
Maybe.
2
10%
Probably not.
7
33%
No way!
3
14%
 
Total votes : 21

Re: Should the relief on Stone Mountain be destroyed?

Postby Cpt._Funkotron » Thu Oct 25, 2018 6:41 pm

ghijkmnop wrote:How did you feel when the Taliban destroyed the Buddhas of Bamiyan? Should we destroy much of Helmut Newton's work because of its oppressive depiction of women? Should we ban Orson Scott Card's writing because he's a homophobe? The list is endless on this slippery slope, and I'm sure most of it is in that "separate the art from the artist" thread.

As an artist, I completely disagree with the destruction of art--and regardless of the message it sends, this is art. If you disagree, you must at least concede that it's master craftsmanship.


What's the part of art that actually matters: the physical object, or the ideas and craftsmanship involved?

I don't think we should destroy or ban all copies of Orson Scott Card's books, or Helmut Newton's photography, but I certainly don't want them edified and maintained on publicly funded national landmarks. They belong in our libraries and/or museums, where we preserve that kind of thing for future generations, and they should continue to be taught in relevant courses. I would extend the Stone Mountain relief the same courtesy. There are already photographs of it, we could take a digital scan of it, and we could reproduce it in other places. That's more care and attention than %99 of all art has ever gotten.

But a physical object doesn't become immune from being reused towards a different purpose just because someone has doodled over it. Someone above likened it to the same principal as Graffiti, and I agree. The relief is on public property now, it's the prerogative of the public to decide whether or not they want to keep it around. Imagine if you bought a house, and along one of the walls was a giant, beautiful mural of Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin, and King Leopold of Belgium. I wouldn't want to live in that space. I might take a photograph of it for posterity, but ultimately I would have it painted over, wouldn't you? It's the same here. The art that we use to adorn our public, governmental spaces is a statement of who we are and what we stand for, and the leaders of the Confederacy are not that.

Someone else above suggested carving "these guys were racist, don't be like them" above it in the rock, and I actually think that would be worse. You would be altering the work, censoing the work, perverting the message, the idea, of the art, just in order to preserve that one physical iteration of it. I think that's backwards.
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Re: Should the relief on Stone Mountain be destroyed?

Postby Irishjava » Thu Oct 25, 2018 7:21 pm

I grew up near Stone Mountain and have been back as an adult, and something not many people outside the state remember is that it's not JUST the monument sitting there all innocently. There's a lot of stuff there that glorifies the Confederacy in the surrounding park at large: battle flags, several plantations with actors in period costumes, a laser light show that makes the Civil War look like a tragic-but-heroic struggle between brothers, etc. It's a big racist theme park, basically.

If the relief stays up, the literal amusement park surrounding it needs to fucking go and be replaced with something to better re-frame it. You wouldn't ride a roller coaster and eat funnel cake at Auschwitz, you probably shouldn't be able to do that in the shadow of one of the biggest celebrations of racial oppression in the US.
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Re: Should the relief on Stone Mountain be destroyed?

Postby Crimson847 » Thu Oct 25, 2018 7:22 pm

Cpt._Funkotron wrote:Someone else above suggested carving "these guys were racist, don't be like them" above it in the rock, and I actually think that would be worse. You would be altering the work, censoing the work, perverting the message, the idea, of the art, just in order to preserve that one physical iteration of it. I think that's backwards.


So carving dicks on their faces is out, then?
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Re: Should the relief on Stone Mountain be destroyed?

Postby Aquila89 » Thu Oct 25, 2018 10:23 pm

ghijkmnop wrote:As an artist, I completely disagree with the destruction of art--and regardless of the message it sends, this is art. If you disagree, you must at least concede that it's master craftsmanship.


Even bad art? Even art commemorating a dictator, put on a public place by a dictatorship with no regard of the wishes of the people?

In Hungary, we just had the anniversary of the 1956 Revolution against the Soviet-imposed Communist government. One of the emblematic acts of that revolution was the destruction of a gigantic bronze Stalin statue by the crowds. Don't tell me that was wrong. (By the way, that statue was actually created through the destruction of art; part of its material came from other bronze statues that were taken down and melted).
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Re: Should the relief on Stone Mountain be destroyed?

Postby gisambards » Thu Oct 25, 2018 11:01 pm

I've been thinking about it, and I personally think the best way to preserve it would be to convert the surrounding area (which is currently, as Irish describes, almost a theme park dedicated to commemorating the Confederacy) into a museum about both the evils of slavery, and the attempts to continue that cause after the Civil War ended - the bas-relief could then be kept as a symbol of what racists were still able to get away with, right up until they couldn't.

I also would argue that destroying the relief isn't just erasure of art, but is erasure of history. If they sandblast it, barely anyone a decade later will remember what it was and why they destroyed it. Even if they turn the surrounding area into some sort of memorial to African Americans, it's going to be pretty unimpressive to just have signs saying "there used to be this massive memorial to the Confederacy here but we erased it so now it's just a cliff".

I think Auschwitz, also raised by Irish, is an interesting comparison. I think the Stone Mountain memorial could in some ways serve in a similar way, being retained as a symbol of historical oppression so that future generations know it happened, and the extent to which it happened. If all of the symbols erected to commemorate the Confederacy during the Civil Rights era are removed, no-one will remember that it happened.
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Re: Should the relief on Stone Mountain be destroyed?

Postby iMURDAu » Fri Oct 26, 2018 12:50 am

I think it would be a waste of time to sandblast the relief.

Racism isn't a t-shirt. It's in you, not on you. People need to change how they view the monument and that's up to them. I don't see that happening as long as the Confederacy is glorified by the area surrounding the piece of art. Peel that crap back and then it will be easier to frame context around the monument. Put a museum nearby that tells the story of how the monument came to be and how the area around it changed and omg now there's a museum and yeah.

It would be way easier for the Democratic candidate to simply admit he's ashamed of the white people that can't get over taking an L a hundred plus years ago. If he's scared, I'll do it for him.
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Re: Should the relief on Stone Mountain be destroyed?

Postby ghijkmnop » Fri Oct 26, 2018 1:45 am

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Re: Should the relief on Stone Mountain be destroyed?

Postby Crimson847 » Fri Oct 26, 2018 2:12 am

What about graffiti, Noel? Can I paint a mural on the side of your house or car without contest? Any mural?
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Re: Should the relief on Stone Mountain be destroyed?

Postby ghijkmnop » Fri Oct 26, 2018 2:19 am

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Re: Should the relief on Stone Mountain be destroyed?

Postby cmsellers » Fri Oct 26, 2018 3:14 am

ghijkmnop wrote:How did you feel when the Taliban destroyed the Buddhas of Bamiyan? Should we destroy much of Helmut Newton's work because of its oppressive depiction of women? Should we ban Orson Scott Card's writing because he's a homophobe? The list is endless on this slippery slope, and I'm sure most of it is in that "separate the art from the artist" thread.

I directly addressed the Bamyan Buddhas, noting that while I am sure the Taliban saw them as offensive as I see the Stone Mountain carving, there is clearly no moral comparison, plus those statues were far older.

The other stuff is irrelevant. As I noted, I don't usually favor destroying Confederate monuments, even though I don't think most of them are worth displaying in museums either. But this is one I would display in a museum, yet the point here is what to do with a monument that cannot be moved, it is also a monument which deliberately defaced a natural feature of outstanding beauty as a symbol of white supremacy.

Would you argue that every building which has art painted on the side or was heralded as a cutting edge structure in its day needs to be preserved? If you agree, how do you expect cities to ever grow? If not, then you would agree that not all art needs to preserved.

Would you argue that graffiti which can qualify as "art" should never be removed? Because that's what this feels like to me. Vandalism of an already famous landmark in order to promote white supremacy. True, the Daughters of the Confederacy and then the State of Georgia owned the land as they built it, but in graffiti, the thrill of violation is part of the point, as is sending a message in a public space. Similarly, the relief on Stone Mountain was built big in a public space as a "fuck you" to the black population of Georgia, the federal government, and likely the relatively progressive City of Atlanta.
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Re: Should the relief on Stone Mountain be destroyed?

Postby JamishT » Fri Oct 26, 2018 3:32 am

It seems like the options are "Leave It" or "Sandblast It And Leave It Blank", but what about sandblasting them away and replacing them with something/someone better? I think of it like covering a regretted tattoo.
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Re: Should the relief on Stone Mountain be destroyed?

Postby ghijkmnop » Fri Oct 26, 2018 4:52 am

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Re: Should the relief on Stone Mountain be destroyed?

Postby cmsellers » Fri Oct 26, 2018 4:56 am

ghijkmnop wrote:Fine. Blow it up. Regardless of your reasons and righteous indignation, you'll be no better than the conservative assholes who tried to destroy Mapplethorpe's and Serrano's deliberately offensive publicly funded art--or worse, constantly try to defund the NEA, NPR, and PBS.

I'm out.

So rather than respond to anything I said, you resort to an ad hominem?
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Re: Should the relief on Stone Mountain be destroyed?

Postby ghijkmnop » Fri Oct 26, 2018 5:05 am

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Re: Should the relief on Stone Mountain be destroyed?

Postby cmsellers » Fri Oct 26, 2018 5:19 am

There's no perfect equivalent, but graffiti is at least as valid an example as the Bamyan Buddhas, which were never erected with the express intent of offending, don't represent an ongoing injustice, and are far older. I'd say it's a much better example than any piece of art which can easily be moved, because the question of how to deal with this when it can't be moved is the whole point of this thread.
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