Thursday, April 15, 2004

Art Criticism

The graffitist critiques the river path's long mural, a work of gentle civic homage "by local art students." Under the redactor's sardonic brush, the redbrick factory, symbol of the city's industrial past, bleeds white at the windows while a white cloud swallows it from outside. The white is hot and violent. Magnesium burning with retina-scorching light. A caustic plume of toxin, quicklime to the eyes. She deconstructs "heritage," that time-honored schoolroom topic, with her lead-white allusions to Bhopal, Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and even the Twin Towers. I see in her gouged out, threatened edifice a burnt out bus in Tel Aviv, and a bulldozed house in Nablus.

I imagine, then, that the teacher arrives, dragging the vandal by the ear, making an example of her. The teacher looks strangely like Governor Romney -- meticulous, blank, blandly handsome, cold as a power point. He is here to defend "heritage." From his mouth, it sounds strangely like "privilege" or maybe "marriage." The vandal scowls at his side.

The teacher -- the Governor -- is worried about "confusion." The "confusion" that will occur if certain marriages proceed in May, and are later (as he so dearly hopes) prohibited.

Never mind that he himself has taken something simple and clear -- a stunning and courageous declaration of equality and rights -- and made it into a political, legislative and human nightmare. That is acceptable "confusion." Good confusion. That minorities shall suffer is right in keeping with our heritage.

The vandal, smirking now, dribbles white paint onto the teacher's wingtips.

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