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The Blu/MOCA whitewash censorship incident isn’t going away as some street artists continue to draw attention to LA MOCA director Jeffrey Deitch’s lapse in judgment.

A very direct one-color poster appeared in LA this past week by an as yet unidentified artist street artist Mark of the Beast, and last night a two-color poster by art protest group LA RAW hit the streets. It includes the tag line “Artists United Against Censorship” and depicts Deitch being gripped by a blue fist and surrounded by the following text:

ART is POWER

In December 2010, the Museum of Contemporary Art invited renowned Iralian street artist Blu to paint a colossal mural on the side of its Geffen building in Downtown LA. Blu worked uninterrupted for 6 days, nearly completing his anti-war mural featuring coffins draped with dollar bills.

Then, MOCA director Jeffrey Deitch order the mural to be whitewashed. Deitch acted without any review or a single complaint from the community, and has censored an important piece of art from our eyes. As artists we are opposed to this blatant act of censorship of political speech and the way Blu was hung out to dry.

— LA RAW

The group also released the following statement to Hyperallergic after we contacted them for comment on the new poster:

Regarding our “Art Is Power” poster … Up until now, our protest art about the Blu/MoCA situation has been sort of geared towards the art community, who are perhaps more aware of what happened. This new poster is intended for a broader audience, which is why it includes a paragraph of explanatory text. It’s a straightforward protest/solidarity piece created by LA RAW members and its tone and message are aligned with everything the group has sponsored to date.

The Deitch/Douche piece is by another LA street artist who has something to say about the censorship … LA RAW wasn’t involved in that piece, but it goes to show that the response to the MOCA censorship is not limited to a particular group. On top of that we are aware of other artists creating pieces around the issue. We will continue to see LA street art talking about the issue up through the opening of the Art In The Streets show.

Speaking for LA RAW, we believe we’ve made our point pretty clearly and will continue to do so. We are on the eve of the big promotional push for the show by MOCA, given that it opens in just a couple of months. The artist roster, which has been mostly a closely guarded secret, will be made public. And it will be interesting to see who, if anyone, will paint on the wall that once had Blu’s mural on it.

We encourage anyone associated with the Art In The Streets show to be vocal about their feelings. This is a subject worthy of a vigorous debate and so far we have had awkward silence with a single notable exception. We’re not advocating that the show be canceled or for artists to pull out of the show, unless that’s what they feel they should do. These are career artists who have paid the price on the streets and deserve recognition in a museum context.

But that doesn’t mean people should be quiet on the subject or withhold criticism of Jeffrey Deitch’s decision. This is about accountability to uphold the stated mission of the MoCA and to the communities/constituencies Deitch has insulted.

Why is the artist list for Art in the Streets a “closely guarded secret” considering it is opening in two months?

The posters in context: “Don’t be a Deitch Bag” image on Beverly Blvd (via The Dirt Floor), “Art is Power” on Traction Ave in downtown LA, via LA Raw

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Hrag Vartanian

Hrag Vartanian is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic. You can follow him at @hragv.

10 replies on “LA Street Artists Not Letting Deitch Off the Hook”

    1. Rameses II that is absurd comment. His only issue is censoring something at a private institution, not on the street.

        1. Yes, it’s true I was slightly exaggerating for comedic effect.

          Although I do secretly long for the day when Deitch, Wooster and a few others are forced to flee into exile in Saudi Arabia.

    1. I didn’t read the first paragraph. carefully enough.

      I love that one. No you can’t compare to Mubarek situation. but good for the artists.

  1. omg – i love these posters! Glad to see this isn’t becoming old new or forgotten issues 48 hours later as happens so often. Thnx for keeping this alive.

  2. On-going conversations about art censorship, even within the so-called gritty & anonymous “Street Art World” are important…where are the street artists that are showing in 2 months? Are they busily making commentary (in the form of art work) to address Deitch and Co. to put up at MOCA?
    Opinions?

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