Tuesday, March 15, 2011

90's Hit Parade #80



Bongwater - Obscene and Pornographic Art

The National Endowment for the Arts is a tiny drop of water in the flow of government spending, but as Republicans set about trying to cut spending, it's once again among the first on the chopping block, along with the Center for Public Broadcasting, Planned Parenthood, and other hobgoblins of the right wing. There's a good chance it could be eliminated this year, which I think is a shame, but maybe not as big a deal as some of its supporters believe.

When Bongwater released The Power of Pussy near the end of the first Bush administration, the NEA had been under fire for a while, not so much because people opposed the idea of public funding for the arts, but because certain people opposed public funding of certain artists. Artists like Andres Serrano, Robert Mapplethorpe, and, in 1990, a cluster of performance artists labeled "the NEA Four," had all attracted the ire of evangelical and Catholic reactionaries. But of course, most of the funding the NEA provides goes to entirely uncontroversial artists and art education programs. Thus, this wicked little satire, wherein Anne Magnuson adapts a sultry Southern belle voice to describe, in erotic detail, a day at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. What makes this bit work so well is the backing track, a bit of porn funk with Kramer playing a slow, seductive bass line, with a sexy little slide up the string.

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