new art forms
A case of Immoral Art
Kristian von Hornsleth, Danish artist, devised The Hornsleth Village Project Uganda: “The Hornsleth Village Project Uganda saw every individual in a village change their name to Hornsleth, in a simple exchange for a pig or a goat, and outrage ensued.”
I was told about this case by a colleague from the Bergen National Academy of the Arts, in Norway. Hornsleth’s artistic gesture has a clear immoral aspect to it: how can you demand someone to take on your name for a gift, any gift for that matter? Would I do it when they promised me a million euros?—I don’t think so.
Yet the gesture also refers to conditions wealthy Western and Asian countries put on the receivers of donations, and, surely, Hornsleth hasn’t done anything truly immoral, has he? The villagers contributed of their own free will, and they were “payed” for partaking. And the name Hornsleth was only added to their original names—which means it was merely adding more history to the person.
According to my definition, this is a case of Immoral Art: the event stirs our moral intuitions without being immoral. And there is something there to experience perceptually. It would pay off artistically to visit the village and see the new Hornsleths. Yet, a nagging question remains: should we look upon a person—the villagers—as a work of art?
(Thanks to Søren Kjørup)
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