Friday, July 12, 2013

Art Called ‘Illegal’ in West Texas

Even in the barren expanse of West Texas, free, creative minds are not free of the state’s rules bullies:

A Texas agency says Playboy has 45 days to remove a neon-lit 40-foot high sculpture of the magazine's iconic bunny logo from a West Texas road.

The Texas Department of Transportation ordered the removal of the sign, called "Playboy Marfa," because Playboy does not have a license for outdoor advertisement in Texas.

It appears that even in an artist friendly location like Marfa (known as a hub for such folks) obeying your slave master takes precedence over any creative ambitions.

An even more disturbing fact is that this rule “indiscretion” was brought to the attention of authorities by a local civilian:

Officials were alerted about the sign after Marfa resident Lineaus Lorette filed a complaint. "I thought it was a sign -- a corporate logo. And in Texas you can't put up signs without permits," Lorette said. "I checked and it didn't have a permit so I filed a complaint."

The “See something, Say something” mentality has reared its ugly head, even in isolated West Texas. To add to the ridiculousness of this situation, this obedient, servile, citizen even likes the art:

"I was really ambivalent. It's a beautifully made sign," Lorette said. "The problem is that it's a sign. The rules have to apply to everybody."

Yes, the rules (and the rulers who create them) must be obeyed, no matter their perceived legitimacy. If not, the world will descend into bloody chaos. Disregard any individual impulses toward critical thinking and deciding for yourself what is right and just. Just stay within the lines and follow the rules. And just as important, keep an eye on your comrades in the collective to make sure they also follow such a course.

I see two different approaches to examining this predicament- one from a property rights point of view and another from a spiritual point of view.

No mention is made in the linked report on whose land the artwork rests upon. Since it is not specifically mentioned, I first assumed it was on “public right of way” which is not owned by the state (since thieves can’t own anything) but is certainly controlled by them (thanks to their overwhelming firepower). However, after a little bit of research, I found that Playboy had leased 6500 square feet of land the previous month.

Playboy’s representatives claim that no rules or regulations are being violated. I would assume they know what they are talking about, but in the end, the firepower previously mentioned will enforce any final decision by state apparatchiks, regardless the claims by Playboy. In a free society, property owners have final say on any use of their land. However, in a collective where such rights are only somewhat respected, there still may be state-initiated roadblocks. Cadillac Ranch outside of Amarillo, which is on private land, has been “allowed” to exist for years. Also, “Prada Marfa,” another nearby project created in 2005, is on private land, though directly adjacent to the roadside. It seems to have escaped any harassment by authorities, if not local vandals.

Those opposed to the display declare the creation to be “advertising” and not “art.” The state, by their rules, wants to distinguish between the two. But advertising is art. Art is created to communicate a message- a message to be received by the target’s senses. Advertising is also created to send a message to be received by the target’s senses, and to convince them to buy a product or service. The state’s attempt to segregate art because of its commercial message smacks of nothing less than a shakedown.

Now let’s approach this dilemma from a spiritual perspective. As one who has traveled through West Texas, I can appreciate the tedious mile after mile of monotonous landscape. Yes, beauty can be found in such a bleak expanse. But it is also delightful, and even inspiring, to be surprised along the way by evidence of the human organism’s most unique characteristic- humor. Landscapes offer unique backdrops for works of art and the bleaker the landscape, the better it seems to contrast with the art. A skilled artist can even create art that complements the landscape in a synergistic composition.

Out of the way places such as Marfa often become meccas for artists. There they often can find the freedom to create without being hassled by nosy neighbors, conformists, and rule fanatics. Unfortunately, a fanatical instigator like Mr. Lorette and his ilk (backed by government force) has to come along and spoil an otherwise beautiful, nourishing, free, environment.

Collective conformity is declared more important than individual creativity and initiative. Worship of the state takes precedence over artistic freedom and appreciation. Ultimately, an act of violence is committed against peaceful people, merely to preserve an unjust, arbitrary, institutional decree.

Freedom dies.

Resistance is Mandatory
No rulers
No masters



1 comment:

Kent McManigal said...

I would feel a strong urge to pop Lorette in the nose for sticking it where it doesn't belong- but since that might be on shaky ZAP ground, I'd settle for shunning "her" to death instead.