(This post may be a trigger to those sensitive to the subject of sexual violence. Be advised.)
Currently on display on the sixth floor of the Photo building is a photograph by Nathaniel Shannon, titled Dolphin Rape Cave 2014.
Many students are outraged by the image and its graphic and crude portrayal of sexual assault, which can be a trigger for those who are survivors of rape and sexual assault. Requests for the photo to be removed were denied. Someone over the weekend tore down the photograph.
For me personally, this is not an issue about artistic freedom. I support his right to create and show this image. This is an issue about our denied right to not view an image. By displaying this photo in the hallway, students going to class are obligated to view it.
His intention, he claims, is to bring about a conversation. I feel in that respect he was successful. I also feel this was a cheap shock value photo.
Let us as a community do right by his wrong and make art that empowers us to fight sexual assault and show him and others that there are better ways, more thoughtful ways, more considerate ways, to bring this dialogue into a learning environment. Our college. Where we learn to communicate with sophisticated images, not cheap cheats for attention.
Because this image is not right. There is something on a basic moral level that is not right about him making this image that I want us to address as human beings first, artists second.
Please let us prove we are better than those committing these heinous acts. Just because you can make this type of image does not mean you should.
The Photo Department has announced that it will be holding a student forum in the SVA Theater (23rd Street between 8th and 9th Avenue) Thursday, 9/11/2014 at 6pm. I encourage you to attend as a member of this institution.
Below is the photograph, if you have not already seen it. Following the image is a response posted by the artist.