Can art go too far?


Everyone became a critic at Alberta's College of Art and Design when a student killed a chicken as part of an art project. But the most powerful critic was the school -- and it swung the axe. Was it performance art or an act of cruelty?

Panel: Blake Gopnik / Jordan Eagles

A chicken may be too strange a brush and a bucket of its blood too bizarre a canvas -- even for art school.

Last month a Calgary student slaughtered a chicken in the cafeteria of the Alberta College of Art and Design. It was a performance piece for a project the instructor called "Fact or Fiction". This week, the instructor, Gordon Ferguson, was fired. Students who saw the performance had mixed reactions.

Many students expressed outrage with the firing on the college's Facebook page. Mr. Ferguson has hired a lawyer and plans to appeal. But some students support the dismissal.

The incident raises questions about the limits of artistic expression, and as part of our project Line in the Sand: Dilemmas that Define Us, we're asking if artists can ever go 'too far'.

How Far Is Too Far? -- Art News

To talk about this, we were joined by two guests.

Blake Gopnik has been a staff art critic at The Globe and Mail, the Washington Post and Newsweek Magazine. He's currently working on a biography of Andy Warhol and he was in New York City.

And Jordan Eagles is a New York City based artist whose current exhibit is called 'Blood Spirit' at the Saint Louis University's Museum of Contemporary Religious Art. He was in our New York studio.

Gordon Ferguson, the instructor who was fired from the Alberta College of Art and Design, was not available for comment. We also invited the College to comment. It declined.

Music Bridge

Artist: Yann Tiersen
CD: Le Fabuleux Destin D'Amelie Poulan Film
Cut: # 2, Les Jours Tristes
Label: Labels
Spine:  8102292 

Artist, Joe Zammit-Lucia

For a different perspective on the ethical boundaries of art, we were joined by Joe Zammit-Lucia. He is an artist and we've reached him in at a busy rail station in Île-de-France.

This segment was produced by The Current's Pacinthe Mattar, Lara O'Brien and Melissa Shaw.

What do you think about this? Tweet us @thecurrentcbc. Follow us on Facebook. Or e-mail us through our website. Call us toll-free at 1 877 287 7366. And you can always write to us at PO Box 500, Station A, Toronto, M5W 1E6.

Other segments from today's show:

The road back to the House of Commons for Labrador's Peter Penashue

China's water woes

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