That's Shocking!! | Connecticut Public Radio

That's Shocking!!

Jan 6, 2016

When the photographs of Robert Mapplethorpe were exhibited at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford in 1989, there were protesters on the street and lines around the block as thousands queued up to pay an extra fee to look at these pictures, which lay at the heart of a heated debate about public funding for the arts.

The frank and intentionally startling homoerotic imagery stirred up passionate arguments about the nature of art and the use of taxpayer funds for it. Now the Atheneum has another Mapplethorpe exhibit. No protests. No fever. People walk by the most shocking photos, unshocked.

So how does shock work? What's the purpose of it, and what does it mean when last decade's shocking performance doesn't raise an eyebrow now.


Karen Finley will be at the Mark Twain House & Museum on February 17 at 7:00 pm.  Call (860) 247-0998 for tickets. 

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Betsy Kaplan and Chion Wolf contributed to this show.