Today, one writer at The Atlantic has throw her hat into the whole “if it’s strange then it must be performance art” line of thinking, which is starting to aggravate me. This time it’s about Uzbekistan’s Wikipedia ban, though only the Uzbeki version, leaving nationals open to access the Russian, English and versions. The writer, Sarah Kendzior, starts her article with, “Uzbekistan’s ban on Wikipedia is censorship as performance art.”
What? There’s no real explanation as to why she seems to think it is but what at work here is the growing concept of performance art as some form of shorthand for the strange and inexplicable. It’s a rather dismissive attitude towards something that isn’t as irrational as it may seem to many not familiar with the form.
Last year, MSNBC political show host Rachel Maddow had the same attitude towards the campaign of GOP hopeful Herman Cain, deriding it as “performance art” as if it was an insult.
Unlike Kendzior, Maddow did articulate her thoughts on the matter. She said, according to Mediate:
“The gaffes are too perfect,” she told her audience, concluding that the campaign was “not about politics– this is art about politics.”
Art about politics? You mean critique of politics? Is art one of the only arenas left in our society for critique? It may just be.