Why bowing to censorship is a bad idea

The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts–a briliant funder of the arts–has demanded that the Smithsonian restore David Wojnarovicz’s censored artwork to its exhibition. If the Smithsonian does not comply, the Warhol Foundation will cease funding future exhibitions at the Smithsonian. In the past three years the Warhol Foundation has given more than $375,000 to the Smithsonian.

Cheers to the Warhol Foundation. Sometimes it seems like people in the arts are so consumed with etiquette, so afraid of offending someone or burning a bridge, they haven’t got any guts. Cheers to the Warhol Foundation for putting your money where your mouth is!

This follows a national grassroots movement to exhibit the censored works at alternative art spaces and galleries. Participating spaces include the San Francisco Bay Area’s Southern Exposure and SF Camerawork.

If you are able, please support the work of these amazing nonprofits by becoming members. They are only able to support the work of artists via risk-taking funders like the Warhol Foundation, and individual members like you and me. For further backstory on the homophobic, politically-motivated censorship of this work by a seminal American artist, please see Blake Gopnik’s articles in the Washington Post.


The coming Culture Wars

Think anti-gay bullying is just for kids? Ask the Smithsonian.

That’s from LA Times critic Christopher Knight weighing in on the recent controversy in which the Smithsonian pulled David Wojnarowicz’s video from an exhibition after someone from the Catholic League complained. Subsequently, Republican representatives (who, like the Catholic League instigator, didn’t actually see the exhibit) attacked the Smithsonian and the NEA.

The merits of art–especially contemporary art that does not conform to traditional/conservative tastes or ideals of beauty–ought to be discussed and debated, not censored. By bowing to religious right pressure, the Smithsonian thought it might be playing it safe, but it showed how easily it capitulates. Homophobia is so not cool. And capitalizing on religious backlash to slash the NEA is so tired. Get over yourselves.

Cheers to Blake Gopnik and the Washington Post for their fearless coverage (afflicting the comfortable!) and alternative art space Transformer Gallery in DC and LA gallery CB1 for exhibiting the Wojnarowicz video in question.