I'm curious to the backlash against the Vice shoot in their recent 2013 Fiction Issue.
With stories all by women, "Last Words" is a photoshoot with chilling artistic recreations of authors in the midst of taking their own life. Its certainly not a happy idea of course, but surely the purpose of art is to make you think - to make you discuss, to make you question.
The writers chosen include Iris Chang, Sylvia Path, Virginia Woolf and others, in scenes depicted as below.
Vice responded to the controversy by pulling the issue and releasing this statement:
"'Last Words' is a fashion spread featuring models reenacting the suicides of female authors who tragically ended their own lives. It is part of our 2013 Fiction Issue, one that is entirely dedicated to female writers, photographers, illustrators, painters, and other contributors.
The fashion spreads in VICE Magazine are always unconventional and approached with an art editorial point-of-view rather than a typical fashion photo-editorial one. Our main goal is to create artful images, with the fashion message following, rather than leading.
'Last Words' was created in this tradition and focused on the demise of a set of writers whose lives we very much wish weren’t cut tragically short, especially at their own hands. We will no longer display “Last Words” on our website and apologize to anyone who was hurt or offended."
It is confronting and uncomfortable undoubtedly, but should it be pulled from shelves? Considering the more graphic violence we see in the media surely free speech should be defended in this instance.
In my professional association with the Australian Press Council I notice that journalists have been strongly assuaged not to "glamorize" suicide, not to trumpet the news of someone's suicide from the front page with photos and gushing stories. Beyond Blue - the depression and anti-suicide support group is de rigeur posted below every online Australian article on an unfortunately similar death.
These are sound guidelines naturally, but our politically correct enemies of civilization look to infiltrate barriers on free speech from the corners - whether it is cartoons of Mohammed, or anything that pricks social polite convention so as not to offend any person. While I find the Westboro Baptist Church repugnant, I feel I cannot stop them from monkeying around their idiotic and ignorant god delusions on the street. As much as I hate them, I love free speech more. And the same goes for these photos.
Art should not be curtailed by the baracking of the lobby groups. Good Art, like Piss Christ is dreadful. It gives you an emotional reaction. Art should never be bound by tradition or morality. It should be only bound by the artist's time to produce, and the audience's time or inclination to view it.
In my honest opinion VICE and SLATE magazine are two of the best avant garde emagazines out there and while traditional media magazines and newspapers eschew what the young guns create and read, they will lose the zeitgeist to where the people in the know really are - the Flipboards and Youtubes and Redtubes of the world.