Cultural appropriation and art

Blueneck

Former Staff
Jun 2007
53,970
40,511
Ohio
#1
An interesting issue, and something I think is a slippery slope because all culture has been appropriated from the beginning of time to where you can't pinpoint it's origins with any certainty.

Indigenous activists in Canada have forced the cancellation of an art show in Toronto that drew direct inspiration from indigenous art.

Six years ago, the Canadian painter Amanda PL traveled to Thunder Bay in Ontario to study art education at Lakehead University. There, she became entranced with a lush, surrealistic form of Anishinabe painting known as the Woodlands style. When she returned home to Toronto, where she was born and raised, Amanda PL began to paint Woodland paintings. Next month, she was to have her first solo exhibition, at the new Visions Gallery in the Leslieville district of Toronto.

That show, however, has been canceled because of accusations of cultural appropriation leveled against Amanda PL. That comes only weeks after a similar outcry in New York City, where the Whitney Biennial faced criticism from African-American artists and activists for displaying a work by white painter Dana Schutz that shows the encoffined body of Emmett Till, who was lynched in 1955 in Mississippi.


Amanda PL says there was never an attempt to deceive Visions. “They knew...that I wasn’t aboriginal. They didn’t see any problem with that at the time,” she says. It was only after an email went out, she says, and outrage started to build, that Visions decided to cancel the show.

That outrage has been strong. “What she's doing is essentially cultural genocide, because she's taking his stories and retelling them, which bastardized it down the road,” one artist of Chippewa heritage told CBC News. “Other people will see her work, and they'll lose the connection between the real stories that are attached to it.”
White Painter Loses Art Show Over Cultural Appropriation Debate

My problems with this thinking are mostly that to begin with, there's no way to tell what someone is or isn't influenced by, and I also think that unless you force everyone to get DNA tests to prove they're a member of a "culture" you can't say who can and can't adopt a style of painting or music or whatever.

At issue in the cultural appropriation debate is whether any group of people can “own” a set of tropes, ideas or images. Critics of the cultural appropriation concept argue that art cannot be hemmed in by cultural sensitivities and ownership claims. To this group, borrowing is a form of tribute and recognition, as, for example, when white jazz musicians play the music of Louis Armstrong.
Not to mention, cultures themselves have borrowed from other cultures:

However, Amanda PL argues, his bright paintings, with their semi-abstracted shapes, borrowed from the European stained-glass tradition. In other words, all art is predicated on “appropriation,” which may just be a more loaded word for “influence.”
Any thoughts?
 

Babba

Former Staff
Jul 2007
74,944
65,081
So. Md.
#3
Yeah, I'm not comfortable with the idea of stifling the cultural exchange of ideas, which is what I think this would do.
 
Likes: 3 people

StanStill

Former Staff
Dec 2013
12,705
14,173
Work
#4
Mark your calendar, Libertine, because we agree.

Picasso quite openly admitted that the he was most influenced by the exhibition of (stolen) African artifacts in the museum in Paris. For him, it completely opened a new direction that his art could take.



 
Likes: 6 people
Jun 2014
60,492
34,756
Cleveland, Ohio
#6
An interesting issue, and something I think is a slippery slope because all culture has been appropriated from the beginning of time to where you can't pinpoint it's origins with any certainty.







White Painter Loses Art Show Over Cultural Appropriation Debate

My problems with this thinking are mostly that to begin with, there's no way to tell what someone is or isn't influenced by, and I also think that unless you force everyone to get DNA tests to prove they're a member of a "culture" you can't say who can and can't adopt a style of painting or music or whatever.



Not to mention, cultures themselves have borrowed from other cultures:



Any thoughts?
This gets no traction with me.
 
Jul 2015
32,635
23,837
Florida
#7
An interesting issue, and something I think is a slippery slope because all culture has been appropriated from the beginning of time to where you can't pinpoint it's origins with any certainty.







White Painter Loses Art Show Over Cultural Appropriation Debate

My problems with this thinking are mostly that to begin with, there's no way to tell what someone is or isn't influenced by, and I also think that unless you force everyone to get DNA tests to prove they're a member of a "culture" you can't say who can and can't adopt a style of painting or music or whatever.



Not to mention, cultures themselves have borrowed from other cultures:



Any thoughts?
Unless you are a FORGER and reproduce stroke for stroke (with or without the original artists name copied as well), I say it is a slippery slope! A very slippery slope.

I don't know from French Impressionists. They all looked alike to me. They were all in a fairly contained period of the 19th and early 20th century and I still can't tell one from the other. They were all pastoral and 'pretty'. Who appropriated from who?? Got me!
 
Likes: 3 people

Wonderer

Council Hall
May 2014
29,225
19,642
Missouri
#8
I'm in agreement with most here. Outright plagiarism/copying? No. Drawing inspiration/influence from? Yes. There has to be room for that, particularly in the arts. And there's no practical way to fully delineate between cultures, nor is that an ideal to which we should aspire.

It's broader than just the arts, though - it involves fashion, food, all sorts of things. If drawing inspiration from or enjoying another culture's art, fashion, food, etc., = "cultural appropriation," and therefore taboo, then where does that lead logically? No more Taco Tuesdays or celebrating Cinco de Mayo if you're not Mexican? No more consuming pasta if you're not Italian? No more St. Paddy's day if you're not Irish? No more playing/listening to Jazz if you're not African American? Recently, there was a kerfuffle on a college campus over the wearing of hoop earrings by white women. Which set me off, because I'm a hoop girl. Pretty much every day. What are the implications of following this logic to its extreme on, e.g., someone like Rachel Dolezal? Or Caitlyn Jenner, for that matter?

We need to learn how to recognize and appreciate our differences, not use them as weapons.
 
Likes: 5 people

The Man

Former Staff
Jul 2011
45,302
31,948
Toronto
#9
With all my respect for Aboriginals, yes, their own traditions are not entirely original either; much of them originate from the native peoples of Siberia, who are the direct ancestors of our Aboriginals here :)

Even the iconic feathered headdresses of native North Americans are similar to those typically worn by shamans in Siberia

;)
 
Likes: 2 people

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