Not Just For QueersNovember 16, 2011
Left to oneself, one can go through life thinking “I’m the only one who’s ever felt this way.” But after only a few conversations and a bit of thought one begins to see a common thread. Our common humanity tells us that although one individual is unique, all of us are far more alike than we are different.
A History of the World in 100 Objects is a new book by Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum. In it he tells a succinct tale of the human race from the objects we have created. Please take a look at object #97, at left, British artist David Hockney’s etching from 1966. It is titled, In the Dull Village. Enlarge the image for a moment and try to get the feel for the scale of it. The original is about 22 inches by 40 inches or 57 centimetres by 100 centimetres.
As MacGregor points out, the etching was produced in the decade that saw,
“…the psychedelic Summer of love–played out to the sounds of Woodstock and San Francisco, the Beatles and the Grateful Dead. In the private realm there was a sexual revolution–Women’s Liberation, the contraceptive pill–and the legalization of homosexual relations. There is no earlier decade in which [the etching] could have been published.”
Of course, only some women were liberated, the Catholic Church (“1.18 billion and growing”) continues to oppose any real contraception and homosexual relations were scarcely legalized and then only in a few places on earth.
Sexual Futurist has a different point to make. Hockney’s work is important in that it is for all of us, not just those who happen to be homosexual. The artist’s message is universal and this makes it more than just a statement for those who are attracted to the same sex (which it surely is). His message cannot be relegated to a sexual ghetto where only homosexuals live. Like California’s inclusion of Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transsexual history-makers in the public school curriculum (see Hating the Bigger Picture), LGBT history is really the history of all of us in the same way that the actions of men and women are the acts of all of us. In the same way that the individual stories of blacks and whites and Asians makes up the collage of human history. Understandably we need to stand up for the differing groups of humanity but at the end of the fight our goal is to stand together as the human race.
The etching by Hockney reflects our universal desire to simply be allowed to be who we are, to be allowed to breathe, to be safe. The work and it’s title are about the blessed humdrum serenity of a life without the drama of hate and despair over who we are sexually. What a vision for all of us–including the heterosexuals who have not yet come out of the closet about their being sexual beings too. Hockney’s work represents the essential notion of “safe sex” in that it is not about intercourse but about being free.
Come reason with us.
Tags: "In the Dull Village", balkanization of human sexual rights, British Museum, David Hockney, gay art, gay artists, gay rights, homophobia, human sexual rights, Neil MacGregor, safe sex, sex and art, sex and catholicism, sex and relationships, sex in art, sexual art, talking to children about sex, women's rights