I was lurking in the trademe (NZs version of ebay) forums today and came across an interesting plug for a discussion about a sculpture (and for the sculpture itself) that is up for auction now.
This sculpture is of three police batons that are shaped like penises, one red, one blue and one white. To understand the premise of this sculpture some knowledge of NZ history and current social and political issues is required. Just briefly; in 1981 the South African rugby team (The Spring Boks) toured in NZ. The resulting clashes between anti-aparthied protesters and rugby fans split the nation in two. Two special police squads, the Blue Squad and the Red Squad were established to deal with the protestors who were trying to stop games. These specially formed squads were the first NZ police be issued with the long baton which became associated with state power and an abuse of power through its use in violent clashes with anti-apartheid protestors. Furthermore the baton of the second in command of the Red Squad went up for auction on Trademe in 2005. It created controversy in NZ and was sold to a South African collector for $20 000 (NZ). Furthermore, recently in New Zealand there have been several police rape trials, with the baton an alleged modus operandi.
I like art, but would I hang a sculpture like this in my living room - not blimmin likely.
Do I like this piece as a vehicle for discussion about serious issues facing modern society - yes
Do I have concern that it may negatively impact and offend those already traumatised by police brutality - yes
Do I believe in freedom of expression - yes
Do I believe in the rights of victims not to be exploited for pecunairy gain - yes (in this instance the proceeds will be going to charity).
Where does all this leave me - totally confused! I really like art, for it's own sake and for it's ability to provoke discussion and challenge conventional thinking. Where does the line get drawn, for surely somewhere it must? Mustn't it?
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