Art and the Law(s)

Published: 2016-06-29

The German and the Iranian governments—God bless ‘em both—have gotten together to exchange art exhibits as part of an effort to promote comity between the two peoples, if not their respective governments. So, (some) art from the recently repressive, theocratic regime in Iran has encountered a bar as blasphemy in the democratic, liberal, tolerant regime in Germany.

Art exhibit from Iranian artists in Berlin

How so? It seems that a quasi-governmental agency in Iran has in recent years been collecting art from around the world that expresses doubt of, or mockery for, the notions of the Holocaust that have for so long been veritable Holy Writ in all Western countries, including Germany. The art in question is political “cartoons,” not unlike those of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed that appeared in Charlie Hebdo in Paris a couple of years back. And in Germany, it seems that the public display of such art (or any expression of such sentiments) is a crime. Germany’s own government certainly wouldn’t perpetrate any such assault on the sensibilities of victims of its very own Holocaust now, would it?

Will the repressive, theocratic regime here please raise its hand? Actually both regimes could, and should raise their hands. If there were such thing as art explicitly promoting, underscoring or even documenting that Holocaust and/or the parties that today benefit from its promotion (and there may be such), Germany could send this along with its own offerings to counter whatever Iran might submit out of its own trove. As an alternative quite as potent, it could provide samples from Charlie Hebdo, or such reprises as may have arisen in Germany.

Such a “pissing contest” would indeed be most-interesting to observe, but diplomacy being what it is, I suspect Germany might just request Iran to censor its offerings so as not to violate Germany’s own version of Sharia law. Would Iran honor this request? We’re talking about governments here, not artists seeking directly to express themselves (they’d better not, in either country).

Maybe all this just underscores the blighting effect government involvement in the production or promulgation of art inevitably must have. And maybe all this further highlights the stultifying effect of the application of (government) force to artistic expression of all kinds in both (all) countries.

Governments—even unrelated ones such as those of Germany and Iran—disagree on critical particulars of history, sometimes in deference to the religious affinities of their populaces, and sometimes in deference to the propagandistic imperatives imposed on them by agencies that conquered and occupied them over seventy years ago. At the end of the century, it’s all pretty much the same stuff.

Governments really shouldn’t try to make friends with each other, at least not through art, or through the sincere expression of feeling by anyone. And they certainly shouldn’t try to make enemies of each other, as they so often do, through this or any other medium.

Our polities, like warring tribes of ancient times, set us apart, and launch us into devastating wars with each other. It would be better if they just left each, all, and every one of us alone to relate to each other in the ways, and on the subjects, that we wish to relate with each other on. Perhaps mere trade, for our mutual, materialistic, benefits. The feely stuff comes of itself, in good time. And it is good. And it doesn’t need governmental encouragement.

Additional information about this document
Property Value
Author(s): Jett Rucker
Title: Art and the Law(s)
Published: 2016-06-29
First posted on CODOH: June 29, 2016, 2:16 p.m.
Last revision:
Appears In: