Following in our theme of government and censorship in art 4/5, for this quarter's connection post and socratic seminar we were given two articles to read, both whose writing was prompted by instances of government intervention in art shows. The first of the two articles we read was ART IN RUSSIA: UNDER ATTACK, which examined the increasing cases of censorship in the RUssian contemporary art sphere since the late 1990’s, which has included the pulling of funding, the jailing of curators, and possibly the planting of pot on a 22 year old named Artem. The second article, or rather, transcription of an interview between a PBS host and guests including Rudy Giuliani, a lawyer/first amendment expert, and Hillary clinton speaking to a Controversial show in new york which prompted a court case after Rudy Giuliani threatened to pull funding for the Brooklyn Museum of Art.
Right off the bat, I feel as though it is fair to say “Art in Russia Under Attack” wins the award for most quotable article/most likely to spawn memes. Evidence includes:
“One witness stated that his wife died after visiting the “Forbidden Art” exhibition because the sight of such blasphemy took away her will to live” (I can only dream of making art that powerful)
“The riot police confiscated the posters from the unresisting snowmen”
“According to the Web site kissmybabushka.com...”
While the PBS interview focuses around one particular event, “Art in Russia”, all interesting soundbites aside, paints a timeline of various cases of censorship throughout a decade, and doing so, shows a trend of increasing government intervention in the arts. Though the PBS interview does mention other famous cases of U.S. art censorship, including one involving our spotlight artist Robert Mapplethorpe, the succession of events/history of contemporary censorship is less of it’s focus. The PBS article is very unique, however, in that it brings in the voices of all of the people who were involved with both bashing and defending the show. Overall I found both articles to be effective, and especially so when read together. There is that large contrast between what censorship would mean in AMerica, i.e. the pulling of funding, bersus what it might mean for artists in Russia, i.e. jail time.
In the PBS Interview, Floyd Abrams ends his argument with this statement: The mayor is saying, in effect, if there is a book in the library that we fund, I can take it out if it’s offensive. That is profoundly dangerous, profoundly dangerous, and that’s why we had to go to court.
Do you believe there are any instances where censorship via pulling funding is appropriate, or legal? Is drawing any sort of line when it comes to displaying art in a public museum profoundly dangerous, as Abraham implies? If you were in a position of power, would you draw a line, and if so, where?
How is the censorship occurring in RUssia with curators like Erofeev and in China with artists like AI Weiwei different than the censorship that occurs in America?
Censorship by reason of religious blasphemy is a theme in both articles. What are your initial reactions to the Virgin Mary piece mentioned in the PBS interview? Do you agree with the former mayor that it is “anti-catholic”?