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Artistic license and Buddhist aesthetics

Item

Author

Liu, Yunchang

Date

2005

Volume

6

Pages

401-409

ISSN

1530-4108

Abstract

A widely controversial artistic performance was conducted in 2001 in China. The plot was as follows: an “artist” patronized a prostitute and had sex with her. The prostitute later was pregnant. After three months, the “artist” let her abort the fetus, steam-cooked the fetus, and ate it.

It brought about fierce debates in China on the relationship between art and morality. The public, artists, professionals proclaimed contrasting views, causing a great deal of confusion. Even the critics, who were supposed to lead the masses and media’s viewpoints, failed to provide satisfactory guidance.

The relationship of art and morality is an important and significant topic in the history of art. When art “reached” such a stage where eating a three-months-old fetus, purposefully, was claimed a “piece of art,” the situation is serious. There are similar cases of this sort of performance, both in the east and the west. The predicament is: “Should art be orientated by morality?” and “What is real art?” We are compelled to answer these questions.

In this paper, I try to adopt Buddhist philosophy to analyze morality issues, the origin of aesthetic value in art and the nature of the dispute between them.


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