Saturday, 13 November 2010

Mapplethorpe's Unsuitable Willies

The second great value piece in the Guardian today is an article by Kathryn Flett on the front page of the Family section. Her piece 'Call me a prude, but...' is a bit middle-class dinner party "oh the the modern nightmare", but is no less brilliant for being so. It seems inspired by the Mapplethorpe exhibition at the Towner gallery in Eastborne. At this point I should declare an interest, I am a Mapplethorpe fan.

Anyway, Flett noticed the presence of kids being dragged around the gallery and for whom Mapplethorpe's various photographs of willies and leather might not be standard viewing fodder. Part of me giggles with delight at the vision of the middle class parent "look Oliver, here's a rather wondrous BDSM-esque depiction". With great humor, Flett bemoans her minority status as a 'square' who wouldn't like her children getting up-close and personal with a Mapplethorpe picture.

I sit from the dizzying moral heights of a childless gay man. For me, Children in art galleries mean an irritating noisy distraction (felt like throttling a kid in London's Tate Britain gallery last week) but I'm also the now middle class academic who thinks if I had kids I would take them to an art gallery we go to the land of fiction with perfect kids. The reality is a bit more messy, a bit more compromise and muddling through.

Where Flett compromises, other parents seem intent on instilling some form of self-improvement and worldly-wise attitudes. If it means that we have a generation that is a little more comfortable with diverse sexual lifestyles and identities, that's got to be a good thing. However, like Flett, I suspect for many it's probably just a rather dull visit. Children should be encouraged to engage with this art (and all art) as a way of engaging with society but you can do that y showing your child pictures at home, and if they show genuine interest, taking them to a gallery. More often than not, I suspect parents are publicly declaring "look at me, and my superior moral outlook" rather than truly doing something that benefits the child.

The Flett piece is well worth reading in full. Check it out here.

Share this:

Copyright © 2014 Law and Sexuality. Designed by OddThemes | Distributed By Gooyaabi Templates