Our People And Art

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Posted by parhad ( on October 03, 2001 at 09:48:36:

You'd think we of all people would understand how powerful Art can be, and therefore would respect it somewhat. We harbor this secret conviction that "Art" isn't a REAL profession, not like business or medicine or engineering. This is a carry over from our memories of life and values in the Mideast where it would have been a great shame to have a child pursue such a shakey existence. We only tolerate it here as a "hobby" something you do after your serious workday ends. Like most people however we give our grudging respect to the financially successful artist because he makes MONEY...the one printed design we all appreciate.

Therefore, since we have this low opinion of Art and of course the Artist, and since we also have a very low opinion of ourselves as Assyrians, no matter how much we might proclaim the opposite to each other in dim hotel basements and garage "universal alliances" and what not...we feel comfortable, perfectly justified, and even obliged to put the Artist in his "place", for after all he is already a liability before he opens his mouth or dances. And, if he MUST be an artist, let him at least "know his place", keep his mouth and pen shut, and do that damn silly thing he even expects to get... "paid for????"

Some years back Narsai sent me an article from the New York Times about two sculptors who'd been commissioned by the owner of the Loft Apartments they were living in to create a huge welded metal sculpture to fill up the equally huge lobbhy area to what had been once an old office building. They woeked at the thing for about a year when the building was sold and all the tenants were kicked out. Soon after the new landlord threw out the sculpture they'd been working on. Now an Assyrian landlord would have felt perfectly justified in doing so...after all the building was HIS property now and he didn't want that ugly, misshapen and half finished "Thing" cluttering up HIS building.

The artists sued the man, and had just won a nice settlement from the jury. Now why? Are Americans crazy, or stupid? Do they possibly need some "enlightenment" from a John Nimrod or a Jackie Bejan?

Not even a city can remove a piece of public statuary unless the artist signed a specific agreement ahead of time (which many cities now do as a metter of course). You'd think if anything was more clear it would be that the owner of a building can dispose of such a piece he never asked for in the first place, like tearing down a wall in the lobby...it's HIS property isn't it...including the "artwork" left over.

Not so. A piece of "Art", regardless of what you may think of it (as in whatever color you choose to use even if ZOWAA gets the Fan Todds), or that it may be cluttering up a building you now own...is protected as a "Work of Art". As such, it isn't just something left behind, something you can get rid of. The new owner had to either find the sculptors and arrange to have the piece moved, or he would have to pay to have it completed and then moved, or he would have to pay them what they would have gotten, what they expected to receive for completing it...and THEN he could move it, or throw it away...except even there he has to be careful for the courts have not decided yet that anyone has an absolute right to destroy a work of art just because he "paid money" for it.

There was the Japanese zillionaire who paid the record and obscene price of 84 million dollars for Van Gogh's painting of blue Irisis and declared that when he died he wanted that painting buried with him. That created a storm of protest and luckily he died soon thereafter and although no one has seen the painting since, everyone concerned has sworn that it was NOT buried with him. I wish it had come to trial somehow, as the same issue might some day. It would be interesting how the courts defend property rights against Civilization Rights.

But these are concepts, rights, our people have no clue about and wouldn't understand if they knew of them. To Jackie and Atour they were merely deciding what they wanted to do at THEIR convention...that it was up to them who did what and where. And in many ways that's true. I had no "absolute" right to be at the convention, none at all. But the way this thing was structured, the past experiences and the way it played out, present a host of nuances and things under the Law they have no idea of, and neither do the people advising them. It's gonna be a lesson for all of us...and a good one.

Not until we see with what respect the artist and the Arts are treated by other people, officers of the Law and government officials, will we change the peasant's mentality we almost all have when it comes to the refinements of civilization...something you'd think we would have had drilled in us after all those centuries at the Top.

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