Wicked skulls and skeletons, warlike messages, evil clowns (evil clowns are my favorite) are frequent themes in biker art, which is known to depict violence and evil. Our most recent blog post provoked controversy on Leatherup.com Facebook Page over whether warlike messages like “Piece is Dead” or “Kill’em all” are appropriate. This made me wonder whether biker art depicting violence and evil is an acceptable art form. Is it OK for bikers to wear clothing or ride motorcycles decorated with such art?
By acceptable I mean whether we should “curb the spread of such wicked art” or encourage it. But how do we decide if evil or violence in biker art is socially acceptable or not? I decided to take a more scientific, logical approach to that problem and posed this question instead: Is violence and evil in art acceptable? If it is, then it would follow that violence and evil in biker art is acceptable.
Violence and evil have always existed in society and they are part of human nature. Art, for good reasons, often mirrors society and human nature in particular. So violence and evil exist in art. They exist not only in popular art, e.g. Saw, that is often scorned by critics—violence and evil are central to some of the highest achievements in art. The Iliad for example, the oldest important work of Western Literature, is a heroic tale of battles and warriors. In his famous cubist painting Guemica (1937), Pablo Picasso depicted the shocking aftermath of bombing a small town.
Now follows my conclusion:
Violence and evil in biker art are socially acceptable because violence and evil are acceptable in art in general. In other words, yes on violence and evil in biker art. But is it OK for bikers to wear clothing and ride motorcycles decorated with such art? I’ll leave this one to you.