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During a public meeting at the Centro de Artes in San Antonio, Texas, the center’s committee voted to reinstall Xandra Ibarra’s work, which had been removed from the exhibition XicanX: New Visions. The city, which funds and oversees Centro de Artes, had barred Ibarra’s video prior to the exhibition’s opening, citing “obscene content.” The decision now moves to the hands of the San Antonio Arts Commission, a group of 15 members appointed by the Mayor and City Council, who will vote on the issue on March 10. According to a statement shared by the show’s curators Suzy González and Michael Menchaca (“Dos Mestizx”), the decision may be further appealed to City Council following the San Antonio Arts Commission’s vote.
“We asked of the committee to stand with us to support the Constitutional freedom of artistic expression and the new visions that XicanX provides. Further, we asked that the City of San Antonio reconsider definitions of ‘obscenity’ that are in fact rooted in a tradition of silencing queer, feminist, and sexual expression,” said González and Menchaca in their statement. “The City’s response to Xandra Ibarra’s artwork is fundamentally illegitimate, unjust, and deserves reevaluation. We ended with stating that there is no place for homophobic treatment within San Antonio Arts Programming.”
The committee dismissed the censorship claims, arguing that the work was refused by the city before it could be installed. The Director of the Department of Arts and Culture, Debbie Racca-Sittre, rejected allegations that the decision was a homophobic response to Ibarra’s work.
Several members of the community were present at the meeting to speak in support of reinstalling Ibarra’s work, including María de León and Adriana Rios of the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures; Professor of Law Amy Kastely; Graciela Sanchez of the Esperanza Peace & Justice Center; and San Antonio-based artist Jonathan Treviño.