I feel naïve to have thought that art offered one of the only scared spaces to be freely expressive. Two weeks ago, I wrote a post that attempted to diplomatically depict the controversial saga that has unfolded over artist Brett Murray’s “The Spear”, a Communist propaganda style portrayal of South African president Jacob Zuma with his penis hanging out from his zipper.Continue Reading →
National Portrait Gallery
The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression has given out one of its annual “Jefferson Muzzle” awards to Smithsonian Secretary G. Wayne Clough for his removal of David Wojnarowicz’s “A Fire in My Belly” video and censoring of Hide/Seek at the National Portrait Gallery. That’s one trophy we assume won’t be going on display in his home.Continue Reading →
The Smithsonian’s Board of Regents, the highest administrative body of the organization, will be meeting on Monday January 31st with Smithsonian Secretary G. Wayne Clough to discuss his decision to censor David Wojnarowicz’s “A Fire in My Belly” from the National Portrait Gallery’s Hide/Seek exhibition. An anti-censorship protest will be held at 1 PM outside the Smithsonian’s headquarters.Continue Reading →
On November 30, 1994, choreographer Bill T. Jones’s experimental dance piece “Still/Here” opened at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The work featured live dancers performing in front of video footage of terminally ill people discussing their sicknesses. Nearly a month later, dance critic Arlene Croce blasted the piece in a now-infamous essay in the New Yorker. Announcing that she had never seen “Still/Here” and had no intention of doing so, Croce wrote, “By working dying people into his act, Jones is putting himself beyond the reach of criticism. I think of him as literally undiscussable.” She went on to classify that category of undiscussability as “those dancers I’m forced to feel sorry for because of the way they present themselves: as dissed blacks, abused women, or disenfranchised homosexuals—as performers, in short, who make out of victimhood victim art.” In many ways, the National Portrait Gallery’s current, controversial, and excellent special exhibition Hide/Seek feels like a resounding rebuttal of Croce’s thesis.Continue Reading →
Kriston Capps reports that the iPad protesters previously banned from the Smithsonian are returning to the site of their crimes. This time, artists Michael Blasenstein and Michael Iacovone will stage a fully legal protest by parking a trailer outside the National Portrait Gallery and screening Wojnarowicz’s censored video inside.Continue Reading →
Odds are, you’re probably doing some traveling in 2011. If you’ve got places to go, we’ve got art for you to check out. From Gerhard Richter’s retrospective at the Tate to an exhibition of Gertrude Stein’s personal collection in San Francisco, here are five exhibitions outside of New York to look for in the next year. Better start planning that business trip now!Continue Reading →
What do Wikileaks and the art world’s response to the censorship of David Wojnarowicz’s “A Fire in My Belly” by the Smithsonian have in common? Both make public what elites want to keep secret. They illustrate how little, if anything, can be hidden anymore and demonstrate how the more something is concealed the more the demand for it to be revealed grows.
What the complex and seemingly unrelated stories of Wikileaks and the censorship of “A Fire in My Belly” at the National Portrait Gallery’s Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture highlights is how insiders, or those with insider access, can use their privilege to unsettle the status quo when it isn’t working anymore.Continue Reading →
Two new developments in the Wojnarowicz Censorship case since we last reported on the Hide/Seek show and its problems with government censorship and a Smithsonian Secretary who just can’t say sorry … Washington Post‘s Philip Kenicott is asking for Secretary G. Wayne Clough to resign … collector Jim Hedges wants his work by Jack Pierson out of the show …Continue Reading →
Today, approximately 400-500 protesters gathered on the steps of the Metropolitan Museum to take part in a rally demanding that the Smithsonian return the censored video by artist David Wojnarowicz, “A Fire In My Belly,” to the National Portrait Gallery’s Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture.
Organized by Art+, a New York-based group organizing direct action against the censorship of Wojnarowicz’s video, the march began in the middle of Museum Mile and marched uptown along Fifth Avenue until the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, which is a Manhattan-based Smithsonian institution.Continue Reading →
The scandal that erupted when the Smithsonian’s secretary G. Wayne Clough decided to remove David Wojnarowicz’s “A Fire in My Belly” from the National Portrait Gallery’s Hide/Seek exhibition under Republican political pressure shows no sign of calming down. Only in the past week, the Warhol Foundation has threatened to cease funding the Smithsonian’s programming if the piece isn’t restored (it will not be) and the New York Times has published an op-ed by Frank Rich declaiming the move as “gay-bashing,” and one of the artists involved with the show is requesting his work be removed from the show. The anger has expanded to the extent that some are calling for Secretary Clough, the single individual responsible for the censorship decision, to resign. Here’s why that won’t happen.Continue Reading →