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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Bad Behavior All Around

Mia Fineman profiles Charlie Finch in this week's New York Observer. I've said more than my share already on the recent Finch affair, but I'm going to hit one more point before I drop the topic for good.

It seems that Fineman (writing for the dead-tree media) may have missed what a dozen bloggers didn't. Although she calls Finch's piece on Natalie Frank "mildly lewd," Fineman only mentions Finch's t-shirt comment. None of the bloggers she quotes would have gotten all worked up over Finch mentioning someone working away while wearing a wife beater--even if he did include a little sheen of sweat in his description.

I hadn't wanted to spell out what caused my outrage earlier, but I guess I need to. The offense comes in the combination of the piece's title, "The Seduction of Natalie Frank," and the last paragraph where Finch metaphorically undresses Frank--or, rather, has her undress herself for his pleasure--as he describes a self-portrait she has painted:
The piece shows a quizzical, confused, alarmed Natalie, a naked expose of the artist's ambition and insecurity. It is a masterpiece of self-exposure and a harbinger that, perhaps in the future, Ms. Frank will strip away the kitschey veneer and show herself in all her flawed, ambitious glory.
Combine the career promotion, the paternalistic tone, and the fantasized sexualization of the relationship this way and you've got one creepy, exploitative piece.

Fineman's working around the crux of the issue like this raises an interesting question, actually. Did she really miss the point that got the blogosphere all lathered up, or were editors at the Observer too offended by Finch's piece to even allow Fineman to summarize its most gratuitous aspects?

I did find it interesting, though, to learn about the context for the fight that I saw between Finch and Artnet editor Walter Robinson at the MoMA opening press preview. (The fight actually happened in November, 2004, not last January as Fineman writes.)

Switching gears, now, in other news of bad behavior, ArtsJournal pulled out all the stops yesterday, giving us the following:

Come on, people. Let's respect one another and treat the art well. Is that too much to ask?

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