Though shows are long done, I'm still captivated by Y!N.D.A. by Andy Nguyen. At this point, I'm captivated with some of the responses that the show garnered. An article in the Ottawa Citizen pointed out criticism where some felt as though the use of blackface expressed racist stigmas. However, Nguyen insisted that this was a simple act of art that played on contrast and lighting.
Being at the shows, I did notice the blackface. But as an accessory to art. Some of the models that weren't in blackface were in powdered white makeup, but I saw no critiques that said this implied racial stigmas that Caucasians are ghostly white. The makeup choices complemented the clothing and accessories perfectly. With spiked masks, boxy totes, and lines down faces, these unorthodox conventions served in working with the clothing to create an impression of power, structure, and restraint. The clothing featured an impressive balance of structure and flowing materials with a slightly frayed texture. Added to that effect was the use of leather and sheers in dreary dark colours. Admittedly, some of the designs evoked a bit of shock and discomfort in me (and others around me), especially one model who wore a gag with spokes.
So that brings us to the question: when does "art" become offensive? Does it depend on its intended meaning or how people perceive it?