Should We Separate Art from the Artist? We Weigh In On Ye’s Problematic Show at PFW

by

October 7, 2022
Read Time: 3 minutes

It’s up for discussion, but we’re simply tired of Ye AKA Kanye West’s antics

 

 

Disclaimer: this [essay] is a depiction of the writer’s own thoughts, experiences and observations, and in no way reflects the opinions of the publication on which it is shared, nor does it reflect the opinions of the publication’s parent company or fellow businesses

 

Fashion Month ended with controversy, many thanks to Ye, the artist formerly known as Kanye West. While we were still on a collective high from Bella Hadid’s spray-on dress at the Coperni show during Paris Fashion Week, he spewed, yet again, inexcusable hatred, perpetuating harmful anti-Black rhetoric. Frankly, I’m tired.

 

It all started with a last-minute exhibition of his Yeezy Season 9 collection, which according to reports, started an hour and a half late. To add insult to injury, he was spotted proudly sporting statement shirts with the slogan “White Lives Matter,” popularized by white supremacist groups (including the abominable Ku Klux Klan), alongside outspoken conservative political commentator and right-wing pundit, Candace Owens. On his Instagram Stories, he wrote: “Everyone knows that Black Lives Matter was a scam. Now it’s over. You’re welcome.”

 

 

Despite public backlash, he has not apologized, even describing it as a “paradigm shifting tshirt” because we (as in, you and me) are all “fucking [programmed] sheep.” This is, on top, of years of problematic stunts—wearing a MAGA cap and showing public support for Donald Trump, and declaring that 400 years of African American slavery was a “choice”—which many dismissed as a result of his mental health disorder.

 

Ye went as far as publicly bullying Gabriella Karefa-Johnson, Vogue’s global contributing fashion editor-at-large, to his 17.9 million followers on Instagram, when she critiqued his show that amplified harmful ideologies affecting the lives of the Black community. In a statement, Vogue condemned his actions acknowledging that “she was personally targeted and bullied” and that “it is unacceptable.” The two individuals have since met in person to “[speak] her truth in a way she felt best, in her own terms.”

 

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Is Ye truly a creative genius—the gift to humankind he thinks himself to be—seemingly “ahead of his time?” Or, get this, is he just a deeply problematic, bordering hate-filled individual, who uses his platform to do more harm than good, all while refusing to acknowledge that the world is bigger than his small, self-righteous bubble where I Am A God?

 

Should we continue supporting his art—from his diverse discography to his always sold-out merchandise—and, in turn, empower his deeply concerning ideologies that have real-life implications towards the people he claims to advocate for? What do we do when the art we choose to consume on a day-to-day basis is created by somebody whose values and belief system reflect something we strongly disagree with? Do we sweep it under the rug or do we acknowledge the reality that…well, this is pretty fucked up?

 

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Should we separate art from the artist? Case in point: When we talk about the narratives of art history, we see artists that were murderers, drunkards and abusers, yet their work hangs on the most prominent museums in the world. Pablo Picasso, for one, severely mistreated his female muses saying “women are machines for suffering.” For others, this “tortured artist” façade makes the likes of Picasso geniuses ahead of their time. Why can’t we just call them out? These people are pretty misogynistic, problematic pricks.

 

Now we have the Internet. We have a deluge of facts that informs our ideologies and choices, and we have free will to choose based on our belief systems. When we disregard this ugly reality so we can, in turn, blindly receive their art, aren’t we being complicit?

 

 

But I digress. In 2019, I penned a glittering review entitled Kanye West Displays His Spiritual Awakening in Jesus Is King. I was binge-listening Ye’s discography after years of dismissing it, and I was simply captivated. Obviously, many things have changed since then, including my feelings for him (and my understanding of faith). I’m no longer in awe of this individual, taking in both his art and his humanity. The veil has been lifted: I can now acknowledge that he is a bigot, a misogynist, and worst, a racist. And he is hurting people.

 

How many more times are we going to give Kanye West the benefit of the doubt when he has chosen, time and time again, to prove that he cares about nothing but himself? I simply choose not to. Well, not anymore.

 

 

Art Matthew Ian Fetalver

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