Bloggers Stage Photo Protest Against 303 Gallery at Whitney Biennial

A blurry photograph snapped during the “photo protest” at the 2010 Whitney Biennial. (anonymous photo)

A group of unidentified New York art bloggers were spotted at the 2010 Whitney Biennial press preview staging an absurd protest of a painting that was lent to the show by New York’s 303 Gallery. The work, Maureen Gallace, “August” (2009), was the unfortunate recipient of the bloggers’ wrath but the protesters told me that their action was not directed towards Gallace but her gallery, 303, which continues to maintain a strict anti-photography policy that is despised by many art bloggers.

Located in Manhattan’s Chelsea district, 303 represents a long list of artist who are —  perhaps inadvertently —  contributing to the gallery’s anti-photo policy through their silence. The artists include Doug Aitken, Laylah Ali, Rodney Graham, Mary Heilmann, Florian Maier-Aichen and others.

One of the art bloggers was overheard murmuring the words, “looks better blurry,” while another said, “that will teach them,” though what the lesson was wasn’t clear.

During the seemingly spontaneous event, the group took really bad photos of the art work, sometimes with their cellphones, and told anyone who would listen about 303’s photo prohibition. One elderly reporter was obviously frazzled after she learned of the gallery’s photo prohibition. “That’s shocking,” she replied. Another reporter seemed confused and asked,  “Is this a performance?” To which one of the bloggers responded with a giggle.

The hooligan bloggers remain at large and assured me that they will continue to stage future actions against 303 until the gallery removes its ridiculous anti-photography policy. They also told me in confidence — and with the promise that I will buy them many beers when I encounter their anonymous faces again — that the action was in honor of Barry Hoggard and James Wagner, who began protesting galleries with irrational photography policies a few years ago.

“303 should know that we’re their worst nightmare,” one of them howled before disappearing into a crowd of reporters.

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