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Banned NPG Protesters Plan Museum of Censored Art

The Museum of Censored Art's fundraising poster (image from dontcensor.us)

Kriston Capps at the Washington City Paper 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.

Deemed the “Museum of Censored Art,” the trailer-cum-gallery is meant to hold the Smithsonian accountable and to continue to pressure the museum to respond to accusations of censorship. Even the tag line is provocative: the Museum of Censored Art will “show the art the Smithsonian won’t.” Says Blasenstein of the project’s goals,

If this gallery on [the Smithsonian’s] doorstep doesn’t convince them to do the right thing and restore the video, then the only other way we can think of to hold the Smithsonian accountable is to call for [Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution] Wayne Clough to answer for his actions in a public forum.

Along with the screening video inside the trailer, the artists will show exhibitions detailing the process behind the removal of “A Fire in my Belly” from the Hide/Seek exhibition, including which groups influenced the decision. I would guess these exhibitions will strongly feature the Catholic League, Smithsonian secretary G. Wayne Clough and John Boehner. Art was never too separate from the state, was it?

Blasenstein and Iacovone plan to fund and staff the Museum of Censored Art with the help of volunteers, keeping daily hours from 11 am to 7 pm beginning Thursday January 13 and continuing through February 13, when Hide/Seek also ends. To raise money, DC’s Pink Line Project will host an event at American Ice Bar (917 V St. NW) on January 11, featuring a happy hour and raffle for local gift certificates. Check out Capps’ article for details, plus see the event’s poster at the Museum of Censored Art’s website, or above.

I’m glad to see that artists and journalists alike are doing all they can to keep the Smithsonian censorship in the public eye. At a post-going viral point when news of the censorship could cease to shock or entertain, it remains in the dialogue. Keeping up the conversation is the only way to force the museum’s hand.

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