Saturday, January 26, 2008

Public Art, Public Censorship

I saw this article yesterday and it got me thinking. I have always been interested in public art opportunities. I have never applied to participate because I didn’t want the hassle of dealing with the cans of worms that come with that art package. I have always despised thoughts of making art to appease public taste or judgment. I have never been one to make art that is controversial. However, I even hesitate to sign up with galleries because I have found I don’t like being told the preferred direction of my work. In my career so far, I have encountered situations in which other artists work has been censored and I have seen both sides of the coin. In some instances, I found the public outrage understandable. For example, if an artist chooses to show work in a public, municipal venue sponsored with tax dollars (art center, government building, community art program, etc.) and that artist shows up with politically charged, vulgar, or downright gross art works, they should expect it will cause a stir. I am not saying the work should be shunned, vandalized, or dismissed. I hate censorship. However in this case, there is a good possibility some form of angry dialogue will occur. Artists should realize this. Private venues offer a safer sanctuary for this type of work. There is less chance for politics to be involved.
The article that caused this train of thought deals with art that is not politically charged or inappropriate. It is just an artist’s interpretation of human forms. Artist Richard White’s piece “Insignificant Works of Art” is not pornographic or even slightly lewd. The reason for censorship was a pure judgment call made by the gallery coordinator. In this case, I can see why the artist was the one who was outraged. He has every right to be really angry. I believe it is just that he made a statement about his dissatisfaction by removing his work from the exhibition. If I had presented a piece and it was accepted by the jurors or selection committee, then the piece was hung incorrectly because the coordinator wanted to rearrange or reconfigure the works form of presentation, I would be one hot tempered artist! Read the article and tell me what you think.

Click to go to article

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