UPDATE : 2017.12.7 목 16:59

[Vol. 74] Diversity in Arts

황경림 기자l승인2015.12.10l수정2015.12.12 10:06

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  As appeared in the previous article, the issue of diversity is not just a simple problem which can be explained with a single principle. Especially in the territory of art, there had been countless numbers of struggles and conflicts surrounding diversity where many artists risked even their lives to secure the diversity in their works throughout history. In these periods reigned by strict rules and inflexibility, Emily Bronte's passionate romanticism revealed in Wuthering Heights as well was criticized for being unethical. Such efforts led to today's world where diversity became the priority of all, but now a new question has emerged. To which extent are we going to accept it? 

  "Zeze is not such a boy"? 
  Recently in Korea, one of the hottest issues concerning the diversity is   the singer IU's newly released song "Zeze." Controversy started when some people pointed out that Zeze, a boy who is abused by his family in a book My Sweet Orange Tree appears to be a boy who pretends to be innocent but is cunning and naughty in the song. Coupled with her interview where she said that she felt a kind of sexual attraction to Zeze, IU is now being blamed by many people as they think such lyrics and interview reveal pedophilia. Such controversy became even hotter when the publisher "Dong Nyeok" tweeted pointing out that "Zeze is not such a boy". 
  Here we encounter two different viewpoints. Some insist that "Zeze" is immoral and obscene in that it reminds us of pedophilia while some think such reproach invades the divine right of creation which is based on respecting   diversity. This collision between two positions is not new. 

  Is it the moon or sixpence?
  Such sense of deja vu might remind you of the mean, genius artist Charles Strickland in Maugham's novel The Moon and Sixpence. No matter how great his works are, none would believe that he is a good man as he abandoned ethicality and moral conventions of society insulting innocent people and betraying his only friend. Some might think of Ma Gwangsu, a professor in Yonsei University. His works are all very famous and controversial for their explicit descriptions on sexuality. Especially when "Delightful Sara" was published, he was severely criticized by conservationists for it was extremely indecent and as a result, he was sent to prison. While he was in prison, many people protested against his detention arguing that it is an invasion on the freedom of expression. Though he was released and got his job back soon after, the controversy surrounding whether his works are arts or obscenity is still ongoing. As an extension of such controversy, you might find the case of an artist Damien Hirst more complicated for he often uses the body of dead animals in his works. His works include the dead body of a cow cut into twelve pieces or a shark soaked in a tank full of preservatives. He even forced nine thousands butterflies into death by shutting them up in a closed-up place. 

  Diversity - playing on a seesaw? 
  Unlike the Middle Ages where the picture of Jesus unfolding four or two fingers was unacceptable, now the problem is not whether we should embrace diversity or not. We chose to ride on a seesaw named diversity long time ago, and it became far more complex in that now we have to think over who should sit on the opposite side and how steep we should make it. Let's go back to IU and her song. Now we are facing pedophilia sitting on the other side of the seesaw. We definitely know it should never be accepted but at the same time we have to be the guardians of diversity. Besides, the fact that a number of people chose to sit on one side does not always guarantee that the side is right. And when it comes to the case of Damien Hirst, the claim that one should not exploit the dead body whether it belongs to a man or an animal might lose its validity faced with the claim that it should be respected if that enables the artist to express what he intends. Then, how do we know which is right and which is wrong? The answer will never be given. 

  "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." Though such conflicts seem to be confusing and bothering, this famous sentence which Evelyn Beatrice Hall had written in her book The Friends of Voltaire suggests that the society where various opinions are exchanged and argued is truly sound and healthy. In the worse situation, there would be no fights under the undemocratic domination of certain power as the next article argues.


황경림 기자  hdslkr03@blue.ac.kr
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