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Smithsonian Director Unrepentant, Curator Talks “American Taliban,” Catholic League Gets a Beer

At a conversation held with Hide/Seek curators Jonathan Katz and David C. Ward at the New York Public Library December 15th, a few things became clear about the censorship scandal: Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery director Martin Sullivan is far from repentant over the decision, and the Catholic League, who initiated the “offense” taken at the video, are largely absent.

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Artist Requests to Be Removed from Smithsonian’s Hide/Seek [UPDATE 3]

New York-based artist and artistic director of the Institute of Art, Religion and Social Justice AA Bronson has sent an email to the National Portrait Gallery requesting that his work “Felix, June 5, 1994” (1994/99) [pictured above] be removed from their Hide/Seek exhibition in light of the recent censorship of David Wojnarowicz’s “A Fire In My Belly” video.

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Blu Says Deitch/MOCA Censored Him

Just when you thought this story may be dead, Italian street artist Blu, whose mural was whitewashed by MOCA last week, has shot back at Jeffrey Deitch’s brush-this-all-under-the-rug mentality with a fiery statement he emailed to the LA Times:

It is censorship that almost turned into self-censorship when they asked me to openly agree with their decision to erase the wall. In Soviet Union they were calling it ‘self-criticism.’

Deitch invited me to paint another mural over the one he erased, and I will not do that.

How will the art world react to the fact that a major museum director, and not some museum bureaucrat (as in the case of the Smithsonian’s Wojnarowicz censorship) has actively censored a prominent artist? I can’t imagine with anything short of outrage.

I contacted the LA MOCA’s press department 15 minutes ago, and they said there is no official response to Blu’s statement, but they will let us know when there is.

Animal New York has responses from Ron English, Faile and other prominent street artists who aren’t happy with MOCA and Deitch either.

One thing is for sure, this issue is NOT going away any time soon.

Original image: Blu’s MOCA mural being whitewashed (via Unurth, image by Casey Caplowe, and used with permission)

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Show Your Support of Hyperallergic, Buy a T-Shirt

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Ai Weiwei’s Internet Cut, Banned From Leaving China

In advance of the awarding of the Nobel Prize to imprisoned Chinese dissident writer Liu Xiaobo, the Chinese government severely restricted travel for a group of liberal intellectuals who they fear may have attempted to attend the ceremony. Ai Weiwei was among those banned, though the artist recently has been a magnet for political controversy himself after a planned party to celebrate a government-mandated studio demolition ended in house arrest to prevent Ai from attending.

To me, it looks like Chinese political pressure is coming to a head for Ai and his time living with any freedom in the country may be coming to an end.

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Mural Too Controversial for LA’s MOCA? [UPDATED]

If you thought the march of street art into the American museum world was going to be easy, think again. LA’s MOCA museum is gearing up for their much trumpeted Art in the Street exhibition that will take place next year and feature lots and lots of street art, but yesterday the Museum that commissioned internationally renowned Italian street artist Blu to paint a mural on a nearby wall whitewashed the massive work within 24 hours. The work, which depicted rows of coffins draped in US dollar bills, disappeared so quickly that people are wondering why.

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Brooklyn Museum Posts Archive of 1st Fans Twitter Art

The Brooklyn Museum has posted an archive of its 1st Fans Twitter art. The Twitter Art Feed was a benefit for @brooklynmuseum‘s 1stfans (formerly @1stfans) members from December 2008 to December 2010. The feed featured tweets by contemporary artists every month, including Joseph Kosuth, Tracey Moffatt, Mike Montiero, Duke Riley, and names familiar to social media art fans, such as An Xiao, Man Bartlett, Lauren McCarthy, Nina Meledandri, and Joanie San Chirico.

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Smithsonian Ban for 2 Activists Showing Wojnarowicz Video


Two activists were detained by police on Saturday at the National Portrait Gallery after showing David Wojnarowicz’s “A Fire in My Belly” on an iPad inside the museum. Both activists were ejected and subsequently banned for life from any Smithsonian Institution facility.

D.C. residents Mike Blasenstein, 37, and Mike Iacovone, 35, displayed the Wojnarowicz video at the entrance of Hide/Seek, the exhibit from which Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution Wayne Clough had the piece removed last week. Guards at the National Portrait Gallery approached Blasenstein and Iacovone a little after 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, about 10 minutes after the two kicked off their guerrilla tablet exhibition … [Washington City Paper]