Friday, October 07, 2005

Post Secret

This is an art project, online, consisting of postcards that people mail in with a secret written on them that they've never told anyone. Some of them are funny, some are disturbing, and some made me want to cry. I'm usually skeptical of "art" that expresses vulgarity and offensive behavior, but I think this has real merit.

What makes the expression of something painful or negative valuable? I played a song for my mama one time about child abuse because I thought it was moving, and she objected because "it's not edifying to focus on the bad things in life". She has a point; we can't enjoy life if we're always focusing on the negative. Maybe art provides an outlet so that we don't express pain in damaging ways.

I also think a culture that hides its flaws is perpetuating them. The Catholic church is a good example. Hopefully, after the painful process of publicity and (partial) retribution, pedophilia will never reach inside the church again.

Anyway, thoughts on what makes an expression of something painful/offensive artistic? What's the difference between offensive grafiti and these postcards? Is it just that the postcards are an appropriate outlet, as in they weren't damaging someone else's property? What about desecrating a picture of something widely considered sacred and calling it "art"? There has to be a dividing line, I'm just not sure how to articulate it.

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