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 gisambards » Fri Oct 26, 2018 7:57 am

I have to say, I think an intention to offend on the part of the artist (or, in the case of Stone Mountain, the people who commissioned the art) being used as a reason to destroy a piece of art is a potential slippery slope. A lot of art is designed to offend, and a lot of great works of art would no longer exist if the people it offended were able to just destroy it.
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Re: Should the relief on Stone Mountain be destroyed?

Postby cmsellers » Fri Oct 26, 2018 8:10 am

Again, though, I'm not saying that this should be the only factor. Even distinguishing it from the Bamyan Buddhas, the age of the statue, the value of Stone Mountain as a landmark in its own right, and especially the way that white supremacy still taints society and politics in the South: all of these are also relevant factors.

I am saying that there are cases where it is acceptable to destroy "art" which cannot be relocated. We need to consider a variety of factors, rather than declaring absolutely that it is never OK to destroy art. I have repeatedly brought up two: buildings and murals destroyed in redevelopment, and graffiti. I have argued that being offensive constitutes a third ground, but not that we should destroy all immovable art which might be offensive; to the contrary, I have pointed out several reasons why this case in particular probably should be.
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Re: Should the relief on Stone Mountain be destroyed?

Postby Aquila89 » Fri Oct 26, 2018 4:08 pm

ghijkmnop wrote:Personally I think Grandma Moses' paintings are both crappy AND a reminder of a horrible period of American history, but if somebody decided that they need to be burned, I would be quite against that as well. I'm really not a fan of mob rule.


Hungary in the 1950s was a communist dictatorship. The only option for changing things was through revolution, or mob rule, if you want to call it that. The Stalin was not only artistically worthless, but was put on a public place against the will of the public. Tearing it down brought more joy to people than its existence ever could have. And it certainly wasn't an erasure of history. That destroyed statue is known by more people than many statues that are still out there, because tearing it down was such an iconic moment of the revolution.

I'm not saying that destroying the Stone Mountan relief is in the same category, since the US is not a dictatorship. Also, a lot of people probably like the relief, while pretty much no one actually liked the Stalin statue. But I don't think you can categorically say that destroying art is always wrong.
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Re: Should the relief on Stone Mountain be destroyed?

Postby ghijkmnop » Fri Oct 26, 2018 5:04 pm

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Re: Should the relief on Stone Mountain be destroyed?

Postby cmsellers » Fri Oct 26, 2018 5:41 pm

This is the first post you have made that clarified anything for me. In re-reading your posts, I did notice one point I didn't address:
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.

I will concede that the relief is technically well-executed. Aside from its size, I don't think it's actually particularly interesting. Master craftsmanship? Yes. Highly significant? Indeed. Great art, though, it is not; it's a boring picture of three Confederate generals and their horses. The size and history are what makes it notable, not the technical skill. And the size and history cut both ways.

I acknowledged that there are differences between graffiti and the relief on Stone Mountain. You have yet to acknowledge that there are differences between the Bamyan Buddhas and the relief, you haven't even acknowledged that there's a difference between books and paintings and other art that can be removed, vs the relief on Stone Mountain.

But I was never trying to say that there is an exact analogy between graffiti and the relief. And though you have yet to address it, I wasn't trying to to say that there is an exact analogy between Abrams' proposal and destroying architecturally significant buildings or murals on boring buildings either. My point has been, consistently, that while I am generally against destroying art, even awful art, there are some situations where art being immovable necessitates that it be destroyed.

You earlier took a position of absolutism towards the destruction of art. Now you argue that the expectations of the artist on how long their art will last play a role. But if art should always be preserved, then it should be preserved whether it was constructed legally or not, whether the artist expects it or not. And if the intention of the artist is what's important, then the very fact that the creators intended this to be an enduring legacy to white supremacy which would last through millennia seems like an argument for ensuring that that doesn't happen.
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Re: Should the relief on Stone Mountain be destroyed?

Postby ghijkmnop » Fri Oct 26, 2018 6:55 pm

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Re: Should the relief on Stone Mountain be destroyed?

Postby Bert » Fri Oct 26, 2018 7:22 pm

While I understand this is an emotionally charged subject for many, myself included, please refrain from calling others "assholes" because they hold a different opinion.
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Re: Should the relief on Stone Mountain be destroyed?

Postby ghijkmnop » Fri Oct 26, 2018 7:31 pm

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Re: Should the relief on Stone Mountain be destroyed?

Postby Bert » Fri Oct 26, 2018 7:35 pm

It applies when the post in question could be construed as calling someone on this forum an asshole. I'm happy to answer any other questions in PM or Ask a Mod to avoid derailing the thread.
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Re: Should the relief on Stone Mountain be destroyed?

Postby Tesseracts » Fri Oct 26, 2018 7:39 pm

I think it should be destroyed. In most cases I am in favor of re-contextualizing and/or relocating rather than destruction, but this is a special case. The work is so blatantly white supremacist it can't be interpreted as a mere monument to Southern history. It also can't be moved and it was created without permission. Worst of all, it's ruining a perfectly good natural, public landmark. If I had a really cool rock in my yard and someone carved something into it I'd be pissed. Perhaps a plaster cast could be taken of the work and a reproduction could be placed in a museum.

I don't like the idea of a compromise like removing Confederate symbolism and keeping the art. This seems dishonest and it seems like a kind of censorship where you just pretend everything's okay when it isn't. It's like when the Catholic church painted leaves over the crotches of nude paintings.

As an artist the idea of destroying art is disturbing to me but the idea of people ruining natural landmarks to protest racial equality is also disturbing. It seems dogmatic to think there is only one right approach to art in any situation. Art isn't a sacred object that can't be touched, it's created by human beings to send a message and each work should be judged individually. Also, I do not believe this work has a lot of artistic merit and I might feel less ambivalent about it's destruction if it did. It's uninspiring and boring. The horses are ugly. I have no idea how difficult it is to carve something into a mountain and I don't really care, being difficult doesn't make it good.

Ultimately this is up to the people of Georgia since it means a lot more to them than it does to me. I have no idea what Georgia's sense of history is like or how much they value the works of art they have. We should especially take into account the opinions of the people this work is aimed at.
Irishjava wrote: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.

Oh my god, I had no idea this existed. This sounds horrible.
ghijkmnop wrote:
cmsellers wrote:
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.


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. In your haste to destroy these symbols of hate, you run the risk of becoming what you despise.

I'm out.

I've always been really confused that the government choose to use public funding to sponsor Mapplethorpe's work. He did a lot of explicit photos of gay BDSM and also did some satanist imagery. What made them think it was okay to use tax dollars to fund something so many people would find offensive? That doesn't justify attempts to destroy it of course, but seriously what was the NEA thinking? I don't think trying to offend people is a very interesting purpose for art but it seems like it's all anyone cares about now.

ghijkmnop wrote:Firstly, I will admit that I was not addressing your post-- I was knee-jerk addressing the subject line. Along that same line, I have to admit that I often have to skim through posts here, because they are too long to hold my attention (you may notice that my posts tend to be less than 200 words). Additionally, you're not the only one I'm speaking to here-- and some of my responses were directed at posts referring to cherry-picked portions of what I said.

I often skim posts myself out of impatience, but I think it's best to make an effort to read the posts before you get involved in a debate. It takes time but it's the only way we can have an honest debate.
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Re: Should the relief on Stone Mountain be destroyed?

Postby cmsellers » Fri Oct 26, 2018 7:46 pm

ghijkmnop wrote:I have clarified my position--I don't like the destruction of art for the sole purpose of it being offensive, because it is a massive slippery slope. I have stated my opinion on graffiti: if it is on private property, it is vandalism, and vandalism trumps art. I will admit that my position on that has changed dramatically since I got my MFA in 1986, but actually paying for things and valuing them does that to people-- so I guess that we agree on the immovable art point.

I'm not saying that art should be solely because it's offensive. I'm saying that when it's deliberately offensive, in a highly public place on public property, and there's no feasible means of moving it, that it is worth at least considering destroying it. My first reaction to Abrams' proposal was also to think of the Bamyan Buddhas, but my answer to the poll was actually going to be "probably not," and switched to "probably" as I wrote. As I was laying out the pros and cons, I decided that the relatively recency of the relief, the value of Stone Mountain in its own right, the context in which it was erected, and the lingering legacy of white supremacy in Georgia today all combine to mean that, on balance, it should probably be destroyed.

ghijkmnop wrote:Counter-question: If I find the cop-killing hip-hop or the cookie-monster-murder-everyone metal coming out of my neighbor's house an offensive assault on my ears, am I justified in gathering like-minded people together to destroy the neighbor's stereo, or should I just move to someplace where I don't have neighbors?

I don't see how your analogy is relevant at all. It's also a false dichotomy.

That said, I'll answer your question anyways. I'm much bigger supporter of light and noise pollution regulations than the average person, but when it comes to people playing obnoxious music loudly near me, I don't do anything and wouldn't unless it's interfering with my sleep or gives me a migraine. If it interferes with my sleep, step one would be to talk to the people playing it, step two would be to call the police with a noise complaint. If it gives me a migraine, I would be in too much pain to do anything.
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Re: Should the relief on Stone Mountain be destroyed?

Postby ghijkmnop » Fri Oct 26, 2018 8:02 pm

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Re: Should the relief on Stone Mountain be destroyed?

Postby Tesseracts » Fri Oct 26, 2018 8:07 pm

ghijkmnop wrote:
Tesseracts wrote:
ghijkmnop wrote:Firstly, I will admit that I was not addressing your post-- I was knee-jerk addressing the subject line. Along that same line, I have to admit that I often have to skim through posts here, because they are too long to hold my attention (you may notice that my posts tend to be less than 200 words). Additionally, you're not the only one I'm speaking to here-- and some of my responses were directed at posts referring to cherry-picked portions of what I said.

I often skim posts myself out of impatience, but I think it's best to make an effort to read the posts before you get involved in a debate. It takes time but it's the only way we can have an honest debate.


Given that I don't believe honest debate has existed here since before the election, I agree that I should have just stayed out.

It's obvious the level of discourse here is not the same as it was before the Trump campaign began. Soon we are going to re-work CASS to make good discussion easier. We will need people to make an effort though or else it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.
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Re: Should the relief on Stone Mountain be destroyed?

Postby CarrieVS » Fri Oct 26, 2018 8:11 pm

ghijkmnop wrote:Counter-question: If I find the cop-killing hip-hop or the cookie-monster-murder-everyone metal coming out of my neighbor's house an offensive assault on my ears, am I justified in gathering like-minded people together to destroy the neighbor's stereo, or should I just move to someplace where I don't have neighbors?


Assuming that it really is intrusive and you don't have to stand with your ear against the wall to be offended by it, you would most likely be justified in making a complaint about a noise nuisance and following through the appropriate procedures to require the neighbours to stop.

One assumes you would not find the actual stereo offensive, only the behaviour of your neighbours. (Naturally, being as the problem is behaviour rather than an object, it may or may not be the case that any of the lawful measures that can be taken are effective in inducing them to stop it.)
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Re: Should the relief on Stone Mountain be destroyed?

Postby ghijkmnop » Fri Oct 26, 2018 8:26 pm

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