Can the art be separated from the artist? It's a strange question because everything about it is not clear. Who is "man" and what exactly should be separated? The person who works the private person, the written text of the author who speaks, the film of the circumstances in which it was filmed?
Nevertheless, the question of the separation between artists and their works is a question that is asked again and again. How do you handle movies that the producer has raped women? Or with movies whose main actor beat his partner? Or with music, in which we can assume that the singer has mistreated children? Or: Anyone who sympathizes with war criminals should he get a Nobel Prize?
The art knows no taboos
These questions are often formulated with a "must": Are you still allowed to watch movies from Roman Polanski, Harvey Weinstein or Woody Allen? Can you dance to Michael Jackson, hear R. Kelly, laugh at Louis C.K's jokes? Can Peter Handke be considered a great man of letters? Of course you can, purely legal. The question is: is there anything that affects the consumption of art, its reception, its appreciation, if you know certain things about the people who created them?
For some artists – women artists not included – you have the feeling that at some point they have crossed a magical border beyond which their admirers forgive them any imaginable mistake: jokes to the detriment of minorities? The freedom of art, he knows no taboos! Wicked lyrics about women? Wonderfully grumpy, so funny! Attacks on journalists? A Terrible child! Battered woman? Hach, genius and madness! Cuddled with dictators? An obstinate character, a good living who is polarized, an eternal provocateur who lets nothing tell him.
Peter Handke's decision to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature is quite remarkable. The price of last year was canceled because the Swedish Academy had been involved in various scandals, including the harassment and rape of one of the husbands of one of its former members. . The Nobel Committee has been reorganized. And now, with Handke, an author is honored, whom his former partner Marie Colbin accused in an open letter in 1999 of having hit and beaten – which Handke, Malta's biographer Herwig, also later acknowledged: "I kicked him in the ass I think I cut him off too, I just wanted to work and I could not, but it was not good, I did not m" did not like it either. "But is that enough?
Disturbing reactions in the case of Handke
Handke is an author who made extremely offensive comments about women and #MeToo, an author who confessed to having beaten a critic. An author who said in a conversation with journalist André Müller that he sometimes felt very close to Hitler as a human being and that he sometimes experienced a "deep perverse sympathy" for fascist violence engendered by despair ", and an author who delivered a speech at the memorial service of a dictator.
The reactions of those who consider Handke a worthy Nobel laureate are also troubling. The German Minister of Culture, Monika Grütters, called Handke "one of the most important contemporary German-language authors", which "broke many political taboos". The literary critic Denis Scheck said: "The politically correct has received a stunning slap."
But not only the. "The Nobel Prize winner Peter Handke is a slap, not only for the victims of the massacres in Bosnia, but also for all those who believe in human rights and the facts," wrote author Jagoda Marinic. "Do those who want to separate the work of the person want to say that the victims of the genocide should do the same?"
Separate art and artists, that's luxury
How should they be able to do that? When an artist commits, approves or denies a crime, when it makes a victim, art and artists are a luxury to separate from each other. It is a treacherous form of waste separation that occurs when such artists are defended: yes, they said or did this or that, "lost", "burned", "bogged down", but you have to get away from it. consider the literature as such and somehow separate the residual waste from those that are aesthetically useful. But if you can not do that? And not because you have no idea of the literature, but because you have certain requirements?
United States Authors Association, P.E.N. Handke expressed deep regret over Handke 's election: "We are speechless at the choice of a writer who has used his public voice to reduce historical truths and assist writers. a genocide. "
The winner of this year's German Book Prize, Sašsa Stanišsic, also criticized the decision: "Also because I had the chance to escape what Peter Handke does not describe in his lyrics." I have the right to speak to you today. Thanks to this person is not appropriate. "Handke wrote about Stanišsic's hometown, Višsegrad, and denied to his narrator the crimes against humanity committed in that city.
What are these limits?
It's less the question if you can separate the art from the artist as a question who It can. Because some people can seem pretty wonderful. The more the personal admiration of the artist for the artist has been reflected so far and the more efforts to repel disappointments are important, the more self-image of self-esteem. even could be strong, if the self-image became more violent. you admit to whom you have worshiped.
It's not a matter of forgiving or blurring individual mistakes or mistakes – which of course can happen to artists – but whether you're ready to cut those pages off someone's violent or of a victim of violence, continue to pay homage to him in peace.
What is most unpleasant is not that there are people who still want to consume this art, but the virulent challenge with which they justify this need, this mixture of submission (to the artist) and of arrogance (to his critics),
Like there were really sharp boundaries that could be drawn between the art creators, the conditions under which they do it and the work that they do. What kind of boundaries should there be and who could pull them?
Do people who insist on a strict separation between work and artist hang on the wall a landscape painting of Hitler, if it were a very good image? And if not: just for fear of proscribing – or even out of conviction – that one's own aesthetic needs can not always be the only valid criterion for valuing art?