The human form has long been the domain of artists (and medicine) and continues to be. Life drawing of nude models is a primary skill and interest for visual artists working in painting, drawing, sculpture and printmaking. Other media use the human form as well from fashion photographers to film and video artists (using others’ and their own bodies), to commercial advertising, and on the darker side, pornography. The tension between these many forms of expression and representation (or exploitation) have often been debated in society including the present times. Artists often find themselves at an intersection of controversy over their representations of the human form and must confront age-old questions of their roles and responsibilities in this regard.
What do artists understand about how their work contributes to the social and political context of society at any time? Today, we are faced with a myriad of social justice issues popularized on social media. How do we as artists respond to, or take into consideration these ideas and movements in our work? What are the processes of censorship – both public and private at work that artists must be aware of? What accountability do public organizations have in presenting work that may be controversial, leading edge or personal expressions?
Xchanges presented a public dialogue on this topic on April 27, 2019 and these questions for input and debate. We heard from artists and the broader community about what is important for artists to know about their role in society today.