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Author Topic: Displaying religious art from religions not your own  (Read 10254 times)
Senior Newbie
Last Login:October 20, 2011, 10:29:39 pm
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Religion: Celtic Reconstructionist
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« Reply #15: June 20, 2011, 05:17:27 pm »

What do you think of someone having religious art displayed, if it's from a path or tradition that is not followed in that home? Is it across the board fine, or across the board tasteless, or something in between?

What makes it inappropriate to you? What makes it acceptable? Does it depend on the art in question - for instance, a psychedelic velvet Jesus painting is just tacky, but a small beautifully carved dancing Shiva statuette is not? Does intent matter? Context?

If the item is treated with respect, I wouldn't mind.  It could represent a part of your journey that you no longer wallk on but want to remember how far you've walked since that point in time.  Or someone special that has given it to you...  If the art is openly 'out there' for shock value, I'd be miffed-not because of the intended shock value but for disrespecting the meaning behind the art itself.  I think that everyone can learn from any and all religions, and if it can be appreciated through artwork, I think it's great.

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Senior Apprentice
Last Login:July 01, 2011, 11:18:36 am
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« Reply #16: June 20, 2011, 09:00:20 pm »

For the second, I think it's important to consider your own cultural position with regard to the object.  Does the item come from a culture that your culture has colonized and exploited?  You might want to think twice, then, about ripping it out of its cultural context and taking it home because it's pretty.  That's a very common colonizing move, operating under the guise of "respect" -- forcing one's own attitudes about the nature and purpose of art onto another culture.  So I'd think very, very carefully before buying a sacred object, in that context.  Fetishizing someone else's culture isn't really respectful -- it's still forcing it into a convenient box for your own delight and amusement.  (Again, reproductions for the tourist trade are fair game, as they are presumably not actually made as sacred objects -- but I'd still think about what, exactly, it means to me to have this item depicting someone else's religion -- someone else's religion that people from my culture have attempted to destroy -- in my house.)


As a general rule, I think displaying objects/artwork from a religion with which a person doesn't have some sort of personal connection is tacky at best, and it's often outright appropriation. There are certain contexts where some amount of syncretism is going to happen, but in many contexts I'm leery of that, as well; too many people "adopt" concepts or symbols from cultures/religions with which they aren't wholly familiar, and they fail to take responsibility for how their actions towards or presentation of those concepts/symbols harm the originating group.

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