11 votes

Gay artist devastated by removal of artwork from Llandudno gallery after complaints of homophobia

News article: Gay artist 'devastated' to have THIS artwork 'censored' by Llandudno gallery after 'homophobia' complaint to police

Direct link to the artwork on Paul Yore's Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/p/Bz2OF2EA4mR/


Is it homophobic to depict homophobia in art?

22 comments

  1. [3]
    mifuyne
    Link
    My current answer to your question is, "it depends." In my opinion, it depends on the artist, their beliefs and the execution/presentation of the piece. I suspect the people complaining about Paul...

    My current answer to your question is, "it depends."

    In my opinion, it depends on the artist, their beliefs and the execution/presentation of the piece. I suspect the people complaining about Paul Yore's piece may have lacked the context to appreciate or understand the intended. The article mentioned how he had shown the piece to others and received support, but they likely knew who he is (or was quickly filled in otherwise).

    As for execution/presentation, I tried to look at the piece without the context of the artist and I can see how people could consider it homophobic. It repeats the vitriol hurled at the LGBTIQA+. The figures are depicted in an almost monstrous way. There's nothing in there that I could personally interpret as one gay man's struggle against the hate. But I could more easily interpret it as the ramblings of a staunch homophobe living in an echo chamber.

    10 votes
    1. [2]
      alexandria
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      EDIT: This response was posted to the wrong person. There were only two or three comments when I posted this, and the parent that this is attached to didn't exist. So I'm not sure how I managed to...

      EDIT: This response was posted to the wrong person. There were only two or three comments when I posted this, and the parent that this is attached to didn't exist. So I'm not sure how I managed to respond to the different person. I've reposted it below attached to the correct person.

      2 votes
      1. Whom
        Link Parent
        Am I reading something wrong here, or is this a reply to the wrong person?

        Am I reading something wrong here, or is this a reply to the wrong person?

        3 votes
  2. Whom
    Link
    I've been looking around at other articles, and I can't seem to find any sources detailing the actual objections to the piece. At least with the information in this article and the virtually...

    I've been looking around at other articles, and I can't seem to find any sources detailing the actual objections to the piece.

    At least with the information in this article and the virtually identical info elsewhere...it seems like there's a lot of room for a misunderstanding. I have a hard time not assuming all that happened is people saw something that looked homophobic and reported it without the opportunity to get any more context.

    ‘When I was first informed of the complaint, I suggested the gallery further contextualize the work (to accompany the gallery brochure) with a didactic panel on the wall explaining the intention and conceptual underpinnings of the work,’ Yore told Gay Star News. ‘I am not sure if they ever actioned this.’

    (From this article)

    This is a pretty important bit to keep in mind too. That seems like a perfectly sensible thing to do, did it ever happen? Was this getting reported with the additional context? I have no way of knowing if the people objecting to this are doing so knowing it's a queer person's piece of homophobia or if it's just a big mess.

    There's always going to be a tension between people who manage trauma like this by exploring it publicly through art and people who would rather not be exposed to it. What's cathartic to some is triggering to others, and we have to manage that. Being that this was inside an art gallery, a pretty tightly-controlled context to see something like this, I have a hard time blaming the artist for anything. If it were on the side of a public wall, I might feel a bit differently. They sound pretty accomodating and understanding of how their work could be read differently with the request for additional information to be displayed and all that.

    I dunno. Hard to make much of a meaningful judgement without the details of the objections.

    7 votes
  3. kfwyre
    Link
    The particular piece of artwork is quite striking and uncompromising, and I can see it from both perspectives. If I consider it with benign intentions in mind, I can see how it's a comment on...

    The particular piece of artwork is quite striking and uncompromising, and I can see it from both perspectives. If I consider it with benign intentions in mind, I can see how it's a comment on experiencing homophobia. On the other hand, if I consider it with hostile intentions in mind, I can see how it can come across as showcasing, even perpetuating that homophobia. In the same way that I can take off my glasses to change my view of an unchanging object, I can see two different versions of the same artwork here depending on the framework from which I approach it.

    As others have mentioned and the artist apparently advocated for, a disclaimer or some sort of explanatory text that accompanied the piece probably would have headed the complaints off at the pass. That said, I do think statements of overt intention eliminate ambiguity, which is often a key element of art. The possibility space of interpretation is narrowed a lot when it's clear what the artist meant. In some ways this is restrictive and potentially damaging to the artist's expression, but, in other ways, it can help prevent the audience from making an outright incorrect and damaging interpretation about that same expression. I don't know that there's a hard and fast line to follow regarding when it's right to qualify and when it's right to not. Art is frequently provocative and it's not uncommon for artists to intentionally create discomfort in their audiences. On the other hand, if art can be mistaken for discrimination, is speaking out against it unwarranted?

    I think there's a lot of gray area here, and I think it's a difficult topic to pin down. I wish I could contribute more certainty to the conversation, but I genuinely don't have an anchor point here.

    5 votes
  4. [13]
    Algernon_Asimov
    Link
    I think this is a ridiculous over-reaction by some precious people. Here is a gay artist depicting the homophobia that LGBT people live with, and other gay people are saying they won't accept it....

    But the work was removed from the Oriel Mostyn in Llandudno after complaints, apparently from within the gay community, that it breached hate crime laws.

    I think this is a ridiculous over-reaction by some precious people. Here is a gay artist depicting the homophobia that LGBT people live with, and other gay people are saying they won't accept it. If we can't show what sort of shit we have to put up with every day of our lives, how will anyone else know what we're going through?

    I might not experience direct personal homophobia in my life, but I still see it in the world around me. As a fellow Australian, I recognise some of the people included in this artwork (the cut-out photos in the section next to the "God hates fags" sign are mostly Australian politicians and public figures), and I know what they have said about, and done to, LGBT people.

    For example, seeing former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull there gets my blood boiling - because, personally, he was in favour of same-sex marriage, but he sold us out for the sake of his own ambition. It is his fault, and his alone, that Australian LGBT people had to endure the postal survey about same-sex marriage, and the concomitant homophobic abuse in the public square (at one point, the government was debating whether to provide public funding to both campaigns - effectively using my taxpayer money as a gay man to pay for people to abuse me in public!).

    This homophobia, and the other homophobia depicted and hinted at in this artwork (from "Leviticus 20:13" to "Justin is a fag"), is the experience of most, if not all, LGBT people. And this artist has presented it for everyone to see.

    I'll be honest: I don't like this art piece. I'm not much of an afficionado of visual arts in general. Most paintings and pictures and collages (like this one) leave me flat. And this one in particular seems gaudy and overwrought and gratuitous. However, that's irrelevant.

    What's relevant is that some precious queers have decided that they don't like this picture because it depicts homophobia. Suck it up, princess! A fellow queer is trying to show everyone what we go through. Let's not censor our own kind and muffle an important message for the sake of political correctness.

    1 vote
    1. [6]
      Deimos
      Link Parent
      It doesn't excuse it, but I think it's probably also worth keeping in mind that this is a tiny town of 20,000 people in Wales. I doubt they have much experience or sophistication in dealing with...

      It doesn't excuse it, but I think it's probably also worth keeping in mind that this is a tiny town of 20,000 people in Wales. I doubt they have much experience or sophistication in dealing with issues like this, and the gallery and police both said they're consulting with others to try to figure out how to handle it.

      When people walk into a little gallery in this small town and are greeted with a large, bright pink GOD HATES FAGS, their first reaction probably isn't to try to figure out the backstory behind it. If people keep phoning the police complaining about hate speech being displayed in a gallery, I think it's at least understandable for them to request it be taken down until they can figure out how to handle it (or whether it's even possibly breaking UK hate-speech law to display).

      4 votes
      1. [5]
        Algernon_Asimov
        Link Parent
        We're not talking about an image on a billboard. We're talking about an artwork in an art gallery. Furthermore, we're talking about an artwork that was hand-picked by the gallery's curators as a...

        We're not talking about an image on a billboard. We're talking about an artwork in an art gallery. Furthermore, we're talking about an artwork that was hand-picked by the gallery's curators as a finalist in their art competition. This isn't just some random hate poster slapped onto a public wall. It's a curated artwork in a private space. Do these people really think that an art gallery is going to actively and knowingly display an overtly homophobic piece of art? Did they not consider that the gallery curators already know about the hate speech laws, and chose this artwork anyway?

        Using the logic of these people, if someone shouts "you fucking poofters should die" at me on the street, and I write a post here on Tildes describing my experience, complete with that quote... then I am a purveyor of hate speech and you are hosting hate speech. That's just ridiculous. (In fact, just by writing this comment about that hypothetical post, I've already uttered hate speech and you're already responsible for hosting it. Time for Tildes to close up shop?)

        2 votes
        1. alexandria
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          But that's different. In that example, and in this one, you have added necessary framing to indicate that it is not hate speech, but a quote of someone else's hate speech that you experienced. In...

          Using the logic of these people, if someone shouts "you fucking poofters should die" at me on the street, and I write a post here on Tildes describing my experience, complete with that quote... then I am a purveyor of hate speech and you are hosting hate speech. That's just ridiculous. (In fact, just by writing this comment about that hypothetical post, I've already uttered hate speech and you're already responsible for hosting it. Time for Tildes to close up shop?)

          But that's different. In that example, and in this one, you have added necessary framing to indicate that it is not hate speech, but a quote of someone else's hate speech that you experienced. In addition, there would probably be cultural cues and other such flags around the post that indicate it talks about hate speech, such as the topic. This framing clearly did not exist and was not present in the case of the exhibit. As at least one person complains:

          “This piece spews homophobic hatred in no uncertain terms and is a very real verbal assault in the present, made worse for it being unexpected. You should not dismiss this as part of art role challenging or upsetting people and I question whether you would have been so comfortable displaying a piece that expresses such overt hatred towards Jewish people.”

          Do these people really think that an art gallery is going to actively and knowingly display an overtly homophobic piece of art? Did they not consider that the gallery curators already know about the hate speech laws, and chose this artwork anyway?

          This is a time in which a man can proclaim on tape that he "grabs women by the pussy" and is still able to be elected president of the United States. It's a time in which a man can say disgusting racist garbage and still be elected Prime Minister. It's a time where fascists fly the Nazi flag in American streets unimpeded.

          I think trying to guess anyone's motive at the moment is an incredibly simple act: Look at how they behave.

          4 votes
        2. [3]
          Deimos
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          You're ignoring the "people don't work through the context and backstory, they just call the police about the hate speech they just saw" aspect, which is what the article says has been happening...

          You're ignoring the "people don't work through the context and backstory, they just call the police about the hate speech they just saw" aspect, which is what the article says has been happening repeatedly. Yes, logically you can explain why those complaints are unjustified, but knowing why it's unjustified requires understanding the context, which is exactly what they're not doing.

          Presumably the people that do understand the context (such as the people he mentioned that were at the opening and he showed the piece to before) don't call the police, but that isn't everyone. And because of that, the complaints are still happening and prompted the police to do something about it out of caution.

          3 votes
          1. [2]
            Algernon_Asimov
            Link Parent
            This is just further evidence for my belief that people are stupid.

            This is just further evidence for my belief that people are stupid.

            2 votes
            1. BuckeyeSundae
              Link Parent
              That’s humanity! We have a lot of wonderful attributes, but (1) taking time to (2) thoughtfully investigate the context of something that (3) offended us is not our strongest suit as a species.

              That’s humanity! We have a lot of wonderful attributes, but (1) taking time to (2) thoughtfully investigate the context of something that (3) offended us is not our strongest suit as a species.

              2 votes
    2. [6]
      alexandria
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      [NB: Posted an hour ago but Tildes (or my asshole phone) attached it to the wrong parent somehow. Reposted attached to the correct parent] It's interesting to me how the right wing has managed to...

      [NB: Posted an hour ago but Tildes (or my asshole phone) attached it to the wrong parent somehow. Reposted attached to the correct parent]

      It's interesting to me how the right wing has managed to neuter entire groups of people from the ability to have opinions, and how centrists and leftists like yourself go along with the previously established politically-biased "instinctive disregard" with little investigation or thought.

      Like many other people these days you show no indication of any attempt to figure out WHY the queer people who say it is bad, think it is so. It is simply enough that you don't agree with them. After all, if you don't investigate, no ideas of your own are challenged, are they?

      I didn't see the artwork until I wrote this section of the comment, but I can absolutely see why people would object to it. Like the problems with other types of media, there is no sense of framing or any other aspect inheret to the work that communicates the message that it is intending, other than the context, which is arbitrarily removable. It would be extremely easy to mistake it for actual homophobia, and to be honest I'm not entirely convinced that it isn't (self-hate does exist, after all). I could very easily see this artwork being replicated by actual homophobes as an in-joke.

      I'm sure someone with a media analysis degree could put it more eloquently than I have. In lieu of this, have this excerpt of a comment by someone who visited the artwork:

      I question whether you would have been so comfortable displaying a piece that expresses such overt hatred towards Jewish people.

      3 votes
      1. [5]
        Algernon_Asimov
        Link Parent
        Is this like a maths test, where I have to show my workings, not just my final answer? You're assuming I don't understand their point of view. I do understand it. As a gay man myself, I'm embedded...

        Like many other people these days you show no indication of any attempt to figure out WHY the queer people who say it is bad, think it is so.

        Is this like a maths test, where I have to show my workings, not just my final answer?

        You're assuming I don't understand their point of view. I do understand it. As a gay man myself, I'm embedded in the community that this artwork is about. It's not like I can't see the blatantly homophobic messages in this artwork, nor understand how that might be confronting to some people. It's not like I don't know people who would be upset by this artwork (although most of my friends would shrug it off as trying too hard and being too obvious).

        I can understand those things, and still disagree with the people who complained about this artwork.

        there is no sense of framing or any other aspect inheret to the work that communicates the message that it is intending

        I'm a firm believer that art should stand on its own merits. If readers/viewers/listeners need a blurb to tell them what a piece of art is about, then the art has failed.

        I'm no judge of art. As I say, I'm not even much interested in visual art. However, it does appear that this artwork fails to convey its message well. That makes it bad art. It doesn't make it hate speech.

        I question whether you would have been so comfortable displaying a piece that expresses such overt hatred towards Jewish people.

        I'm not Jewish, and I don't know Jewish people. An anti-semitic piece of art has little connection to me. I would say that I can relate better, as a gay man, to this artwork displaying homophobic messages than to anything about Jewish people. If I'm going to be offended by anything, it'll be by a piece of art attacking me personally, rather than attacking a group of people I have no connection to. I don't see how making this about Jewish people adds anything to the discussion. And I'm not offended by this artwork.

        4 votes
        1. [4]
          alexandria
          Link Parent
          I think I've already addressed these in my other comment under the same parent. In that case, as you mention, we agree that the piece pretty obviously fails to do that. But you've already judged...

          I think I've already addressed these in my other comment under the same parent.

          I'm a firm believer that art should stand on its own merits. If readers/viewers/listeners need a blurb to tell them what a piece of art is about, then the art has failed.

          In that case, as you mention, we agree that the piece pretty obviously fails to do that.

          I'm no judge of art. As I say, I'm not even much interested in visual art. However, it does appear that this artwork fails to convey its message well. That makes it bad art. It doesn't make it hate speech.

          But you've already judged the art. You gave a criteria and gave a statement of whether it conformed to the criteria. What else is judgement but this?

          I don't see how whether it is art or not has a bearing on whether it is hate speech or not. You'll have to explain that one.

          1 vote
          1. [3]
            Algernon_Asimov
            Link Parent
            Yep. It's bad art. But the complaints weren't about it being bad art, so that's irrelevant. Have you ever heard of a disclaimer? I'm disclaiming any expertise in art. For instance, the artwork...

            In that case, as you mention, we agree that the piece pretty obviously fails to do that.

            Yep. It's bad art.

            But the complaints weren't about it being bad art, so that's irrelevant.


            But you've already judged the art. You gave a criteria and gave a statement of whether it conformed to the criteria. What else is judgement but this?

            Have you ever heard of a disclaimer? I'm disclaiming any expertise in art. For instance, the artwork we're discussing was hand-picked by some art gallery curators as a finalist in their competition. Meanwhile, I think it's gaudy and ugly and brutal and unsubtle. Therefore, my opinion about this artwork is obviously not the same as art experts' opinion about it: they think it's good and I think it's bad.

            There's a common initialism on the internet: "IANAL". It means "I am not a lawyer". It's a disclaimer people put on their comments when they're about to give a legal opinion without the necessary expertise: "I am not a lawyer, but here's my advice about your legal situation. You should treat my advice with caution because I'm not an expert in law."

            Maybe I should have prefaced my remark with "IANAAC": "I am not an art critic, so any opinion I have about the quality of this artwork as art may be totally wrong."


            I don't see how whether it is art or not has a bearing on whether it is hate speech or not. You'll have to explain that one.

            Hate speech requires intent. There should be an intent to be hateful. There is no hateful intent here.

            1. [2]
              alexandria
              (edited )
              Link Parent
              This implies that there's a peaceful or non-hateful way to say, for example, the n* word, or any other pejorative (I understand that said phrase has been used jokingly in certain cultures, my...

              Hate speech requires intent.

              This implies that there's a peaceful or non-hateful way to say, for example, the n* word, or any other pejorative (I understand that said phrase has been used jokingly in certain cultures, my intent in using it here is simply because you seem intent on downplaying the harm done by hateful speech). Intent isn't the sole arbiter of whether something is hateful or not. If it was, it would be transparently easy to get out of a hate speech charge by just claiming that you never meant it in that way.

              The reason why we mark parts of vocabulary as 'off-limits' to most of society is because there is no 'good' way to say them. There is no way to use the words that doesn't in some way inherently carry the intent to hurt, whether that's externally inflicted, or self-harm, or otherwise.

              3 votes
              1. Algernon_Asimov
                Link Parent
                If I'm discussing the novel 'Huckleberry Finn', it would be extremely relevant and very non-hateful to discuss the usage of "nigger" by Mark Twain in that text. If I'm discussing a racist incident...

                If I'm discussing the novel 'Huckleberry Finn', it would be extremely relevant and very non-hateful to discuss the usage of "nigger" by Mark Twain in that text. If I'm discussing a racist incident I saw in the street, it would also be relevant and non-hateful to quote the racist shouting "Fuck off, nigger!" to demonstrate what happened. I could also discuss the etymology of "nigger", and explain how it derives from "negro", the Spanish word for "black". There is no intent to abuse people in those usages. The mere use of the word is not, in and of itself, hateful.

                I'm reminded of a conversation I had with my father many years ago. He asked me what he should call me: gay, homosexual, poofter? I told him it didn't matter: what matters is the tone. "Homosexual" can be hateful in the phrase "those filthy homosexuals" and not hateful in the phrase "homosexuals suffer a lot of discrimination".

                As everyone keeps saying about this artwork: context matters.

                4 votes
  5. [4]
    Deimos
    Link
    Any thoughts on how to rewrite this title? THIS is a pretty 'clickbait' style one. Also, you linked to some "storgram" site that doesn't even seem to work for me. Instagram link is...

    Any thoughts on how to rewrite this title? THIS is a pretty 'clickbait' style one.

    Also, you linked to some "storgram" site that doesn't even seem to work for me. Instagram link is https://www.instagram.com/p/Bz2OF2EA4mR/

    5 votes
    1. kfwyre
      Link Parent
      I think it's part clickbait, part title gore--the quotes are a little gratuitous. Something like "Gay artist devastated by removal of artwork after complaints of homophobia" feels better to me.

      I think it's part clickbait, part title gore--the quotes are a little gratuitous.

      Something like "Gay artist devastated by removal of artwork after complaints of homophobia" feels better to me.

      2 votes
    2. Loire
      Link Parent
      Just change "THIS" to "his" and leave the instagram link in the comments.

      Just change "THIS" to "his" and leave the instagram link in the comments.

      1 vote
    3. Algernon_Asimov
      Link Parent
      If you've got any ideas for changing the title, go for it. I don't see the "clickbait"-iness. As for the link, I took it from the body of the article. I've replaced it with yours.

      If you've got any ideas for changing the title, go for it. I don't see the "clickbait"-iness.

      As for the link, I took it from the body of the article. I've replaced it with yours.

      1 vote