Friday, February 06, 2009

A Response to the Pittsburgh Batsheva Protest

On the Pittsburgh Arts - Digging Pitt blog Jessica Fenlon writes:
We were settling into the audience at the Benedum center when I saw E. a few rows down.

I went down to say hi. "Did you feel guilty, crossing the picket line to get in?" I asked her.

"A little," she said, "but this is art. What does art have to do with war?"

I smiled. We were here for Batsheva Dance Company, an Israeli dance troupe founded by Martha Graham and Baroness Batsheva De Rothschild in 1964. Ohad Naharin, the current artistic director, began working with Martha Graham in 1980, at her invitation, after he began his study with Batsheva in the late 1970's.
Here is a comment posted to the blog:
Ah, the smug questions of 'cultured' ignoramuses: "What does art have to do with war?" Only someone incredibly ignorant of history could ask such a question or smile at it. Ever heard of the Reichskulturkammer, Triumph of the Will or Arno Breker? How about the Proletkult, Socialist Realism, Bulgakov, or Solzhenitsyn? Every modern, repressive regime has been keenly aware of the importance of culture and promoted some works and artists while suppressing others. And the approved art has never found a shortage of "little Eichmanns" and dupes to lap it up. The monstrous Jewish state is no different and, thus, we have the Batsheva Dance company and its fans.
Of course, the Nazi and Soviet cultural progams are obvious examples by 'official enemies' that most indoctrinated er, I mean educated, Americans should be aware of. The New Rome* has done the same thing only usually more effectively and through the use of 'free-market mechanisms,' see e.g. Jackie Salloum's documentary short, Planet of the Arabs. One notable example where the government intervened more directly is the CIA's Congress for Cultural Freedom.

*In 1967, British historian Alfred Toynbee’s observed: "America . . . now stands for what Rome stood for. Rome consistently supported the rich against the poor in all foreign communities that fell under her sway; and, since the poor, so far, have always and everywhere been far more numerous than the rich, Rome’s policy made for inequality, for injustice, and for the least happiness of the greatest number."

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