So, today I find myself needing to rant. I think the world has finally gone crazy, actually bat shit crazy! All I was trying to do was enjoy my morning, have a coffee, some breakfast, check Twitter to see what's going on and there is was, a link to an article the headline "Art Gallery of Ontario Changes Name of Emily Carr Painting". Okay, that got my hackles up, so I had to read it. Long story short, the gallery changed the name of one of Carr's paintings, which she had named "Indian Church" to "Church at Yuquot Village". The change was, according to the gallery, a part of it's wider mandate to eliminate culturally insensitive titles from their collection.
Now before you all get hot under the collar and start calling me a bigot, I'm all for being respectful and sensitive, but come on!
So you're telling me that we're just going around changing stuff so nobody's feelings get hurt? Better take out the word "Church" while you're at it there Mr. Gallery Dude, I mean "Church" conjures up some sort of Christian majority thing, and we're a multicultural, multi-faith country, we have Muslims who worship in Mosques, Jews who go to Synagogue, Pagans who tend to worship in nature, and on and on. Perhaps you should rename the rename to "Place of Gathering and Worship at Yuquot Village". Am I being facetious? Maybe a bit, but seriously, this could be taken to an even more ridiculous extreme. Where do we stop? Let's put some underwear on Michelangelo's David shall we? I mean we wouldn't want his naked wiener just out there for all to see, I'm sure it might offend someone.
What really pisses me off here is the complete lack of understanding or perhaps regard the gallery has for the artist and her vision. You'd kinda think a gallery would understand art and art history, wouldn't you? As an artist, I can honestly tell you that the titles I give to my work are every bit a part of the painting as the paint and canvas. It's part of the expression and vision of the piece and to change that is to change what I'm saying. The name Carr gave her painting in 1929 was part of her vision and her expression and it's part of a historical context when such language was common. It's a dangerous thing to whitewash history, I mean how do we learn and progress as a people if we can't examine the mistakes of the past? Okay, so the gallery did say they were going to put a little information thingy beside the newly named piece with the original name and why it was changed. I guess that's the art world's version of fine print. Big freakin' deal, changing the name, and pretending that we didn't use offensive language in the past doesn't change the fact that it happened.
And to make matters worse, Emily Carr is dead, it's not like anyone called her up and asked her if she was okay with the name change. They just went ahead and did it because someone might be offended. Okay rant over, I've made my point, now I better run and make sure I paint clothing on all my nudes, just in case...