Art, Society, Censorship, and Transgression

Question description

(Content Warning: Given the inherent socially offensive nature of Transgressive art and philosophy, it is very possible you will find something that offends you.Some of the thinkers I mention at the bottom of this page offend me, what is important is to examine that offense- it may be merited- but even if it is, examining the root and dimensions of offense and taboo are important exercises, and should be undertaken with an open mind. That being said, be aware that transgressive art and thought may deal with and feature explicit and graphic violence, explicit and often niche sexuality, a-typical and antinomian religious thought, unusual, bizarre, or unsettling visuals and lyrics, or other elements likely to cause some degree of offense or revulsion. If you have any personal concerns about the material- or interest in a specific philosophical avenue-feel free to contact me.)

Much like Zhuangzi used maimed men to problematize class and ritual in Chinese society, modern artists, thinkers, philosopher, and writers, have used social taboo and transgression in their work- not only to shock- but to confront dominant sensibilities and challenge preconceptions. Transgressive themes, particularly popular in the late 19thand early 20thcenturies, are once more being utilized to challenge conventional thinking and reason- and are ubiquitous elements of many 21stcentury media, Horror movies, Extreme musical genres, and modern art to name a few, exist almost exclusively to viciously confronting the problems of modern life, in strange, shocking, assaultive, and potentially violent ways.

What is the purpose of employing intentionally shocking imagery? What is the strength it carries and how is it employed? This assignment will require you to acquire a personal understanding of what transgressiveand countercultural mean, and how they are employed. After you have done some research, you will compose your own work of transgressive art, as well as a short essay, explaining what you have created, how it fits into yourunderstanding of ‘transgressive’ (or countercultural, antinomian, avante-garde), and social issues.

There are many different works you can compose, they can be written or visual, you should not feel constrained by standard academic conventions and styles for the artistic composition, offensive or unorthodox content is acceptableand encouraged. For your essay, focus on explaining what the work means, and what it is supposed to say/do. Beyond this you are fairly open in topic and material, though I encourage you to formulate your personal social qualm or definition/use of transgression first.

Examples of Acceptable submissions.

  • Personal Essay, Monologue, or, journal
  • Short Fiction, Poetry, stage and screen plays.
  • Photography, painting, sketching

Below is a list of a variety of thinkers varyingly dubbed Transgressive or counter-cultural, I would not encourage you to look all of them up, but if your own research isn’t turning up anything viable, these may be good places to start.

(Antonin Artuad, George Bataille, Tristan Tzara, Gilles Deleuze, Felix Guattari, Fad Gadget, Marilyn Manson, G.G. Allin, Dario Argento, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Kenneth Anger, Salvador Dali, John Waters, J.G. Ballard, Alistair Crowley, Anton Lavey, The Guhuyasamāja Tantra, Zhuangzi, Liehtzi.)

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