Today I walked the picket line with members of Occupy Wall Street who are in their seventh day of protest against big banks and corporations. As rain clouds darkened, a group of protesters began to assemble and lead the way out of Liberty Plaza, with several cops bringing up the line. Things remained under control and relatively peaceful, but there was plenty of tension in the air.
“Today is day 5,” read a sign in the midst of thousands of people camping out at Liberty Plaza yesterday, steps away from Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange. It’s been a week since the Occupy Wall Street protests have gotten underway, and the protesters are not backing down, pledging to continue on for months if necessary.
British news sources are reporting that nearly a dozen protesters “set off alarms and threw fake £50 notes in the air at Sotheby’s before unfurling a large banner bearing the words ‘orgy of the rich.'” Another protest outside staged a mock auction of public workers. The actions were in response to the UK government’s proposed cuts to public services and the arts.
The Smithsonian Board of Regents met on January 31st with Smithsonian Secretary G. Wayne Clough to discuss the fallout from the recent censorship scandal at the National Portrait Gallery. In its released report, the Board fails to make a strong statement against the censorship but suggests several ways forward for better practice in the future. Secretary Clough isn’t going anywhere.
Los Angeles — With a cardboard cross and draped coffin, a group of activists and artists assembled in front of downtown LA’s Millennium Biltmore Hotel to stage a “Funeral Procession of Free Artistic Expression,” where Smithsonian Secretary Wayne Clough was speaking as part of the Town Hall Los Angeles public issues series on “New Perspectives at the Smithsonian.”
The funeral procession was organized in large part by the art protest group LA Raw and the Center for the Study of Political Graphics (CSPG), in response to Clough’s ordered removal of David Wojnarowicz’s 1987 video “A Fire in My Belly” from the National Portrait Gallery’s Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture exhibition in late November 2010.
Last Thursday January 13, there was a panel discussion at LA’s Fowler Museum titled “How Does Street Art Humanize Cities?” Organized with Zócalo, the event featured curators, artists, and reporters, most of whom were associated in some way with the LA MOCA’s upcoming street art exhibition, yet to everyone’s surprise the topic of the Blu mural whitewash wasn’t even discussed. But that’s not to say it didn’t come up in other ways. A new protest group, LA Raw, handed out condoms branded with MOCA director Jeffrey Deitch’s name on them to remind those in attendance that the erasure of artist Blu’s mural is not forgotten. One source told us that he estimates 80% of the audience to the Fowler event received one of the protest condoms as they walked in and additional condoms were placed around the venue.
Even if LA MOCA thinks the Blu Mural Censorship controversy is going to go away, it isn’t. The institution has not responded to Hyperallergic’s requests for comments on the issue or an unedited interview on the topic of the Blu mural censorship. And now, LA Times‘s Culture Monster reports on the latest action by some street artists, including Chicano artist/Vietnam War veteran Leo Limon and Joey Krebs (aka The Phantom Street Artist), equipped with projectors at the MOCA Geffen Contemporary wall.
Mira Schor writes about the disturbing reaction of the Gagosian Gallery (and the NYPD) during a silent protest at the gallery’s 24th Street space last week. [HUFFINGTON POST]
Today, approximately 400-500 protesters gathered on the steps of the Metropolitan Museum to take part in a rally demanding that the Smithsonian return the censored video by artist David Wojnarowicz, “A Fire In My Belly,” to the National Portrait Gallery’s Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture.
Organized by Art+, a New York-based group organizing direct action against the censorship of Wojnarowicz’s video, the march began in the middle of Museum Mile and marched uptown along Fifth Avenue until the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, which is a Manhattan-based Smithsonian institution.
A protest is slated to take place on Sun Dec 19 at 1pm EST at New York’s Metropolitan Museum. We have links to a handy flyer and a protest action kit!
In a protest that has become practice in China, Karen Patterson is starting a movement to flood imprisoned Chinese artist Wu Yuren (AKA “Little Ai”) with Christmas cards as a gesture of support. The artist has been imprisoned for his participation in a protest against studio demolitions since May 31, 2010.