Queer: May 2006 Archives

Augusto Marin's notorious provocation

This is just one of five sculptures by Augusto Marin which is included in the Brooklyn College MFA thesis show shut down three weeks ago by the Brooklyn Parks Commissioner. This self-appointed guardian of New York's public morals was outraged by the small image of a hand holding a penis and declared it not appropriate for families.

The show has finally been re-assembled elsewhere by the artists, and last night visitors at the opening reception, including members of families representing all ages and genders, were clearly at a loss at locating any provocation in a beautiful piece of molded resin lighted behind a beautiful stretched blue scrim. The work is one of four mixed media pieces in which the artist gently references traditional devotional objects both sacred and profane.

The damage done to much of the work when it was carted out of the War Memorial gallery was clearly evident however even in Marin's own piece, which had suffered a tear when it was pulled from the wall. More here later about other, more serious damage and about some works in the current show which specifically address New York City government censorship and its destructive handmaiden Brooklyn College. We're hosting Barry's Mother this week so posting will have to be minimal for the next few days.

Oh, and as for all those editorials and letters referring to these graduate students as spoiled "kids", maybe some people should do some fact checking. I know that several artists within this MFA group are old enough to have college-age kids themselves, and last night I spoke to one of them who had been absolutely shocked to hear the school's own lawyer describe her class as "young kids". Susan C. Dessel let the attorney know she herself was 60.


Robert Mapplethorpe Louise Bourgeois 1982 [image of Bourgeois holding her "Fillette"]

Now it's official. Er, maybe I should write "anti-official": The Brooklyn College 2006 MFA thesis show is re-opening, mostly. It was shut down by the City of New York for not being "appropriate for families" on May 6, the day after it opened. Shortly after that everything was hauled away by the school which sponsored it, and in the process some of the work was damaged or lost. Tomorrow night the exhibition is finally going to re-open in DUMBO - this time on private property. The opening reception is from 6 to 9 pm and it will include a live performance.

The reassembled and necessarily reworked show will include new pieces made in response to the censorship and thuggish trashing of the original installation. The students, who re-gained posession of their work only four days ago, are calling the new exhibition, "Plan B Prevails".

One of the works included in the original MFA show was a sculpture by Augusto Marin which included a representation of a phallus.


The artists are: Carla Aspenberg, Jill Auckenthaler, John Avelluto, Zoe Cohen, David Davron, Susan C. Dessel, Carl James Ferrero, Carrie Fucile, Pamela Gordon, Yejin Jun, Diane Kosup, Marni Kotak, Augusto Marin, Akiko Mori, Christopher Moss, Sarah Phillips, Megan Piontkowski and Tamas Veszi. The show will occupy 6,000 square feet of space donated by Two Trees Development.

Plan B Prevails is located at 70 Washington Street, Brooklyn, in 6,000 square feet of space donated by Two Trees Development. The entrance is located on Front Street. The exhibit is free to the public and is open Wednesday through Sunday from May 24 to June 16, 2006 from 12 to 6 pm or by appointment at [email protected] Take the F to York Street or the A/C to High Street.

[image from Georgetown]

UPDATE: In a comment which appears below Chris Moss points out that Louise Bourgeois used to teach at Brooklyn College herself! No, I can't pretend I knew just how appropriate the image was!

I've just gotten word that the Brooklyn College MFA Press Conference originally scheduled for 1 pm today has been POSTPONED. Details to follow.

I'm not going to speculate here, but I find this last-minute change very interesting.

On a related note, I've attended at least dozens of press conferences involving civil rights issues in New York, many of them enjoying the participation of Norman Siegel. They are very often if not usually held on the steps of City Hall, and not [never?] inside a law office. Even though access to the people's house in New York is not free, and even if groups sometimes have to take a number to reserve a spot, those columns make a good visual if you can get in and the media knows exactly where you'll be.

My understanding is that this particular conference relates to a civil rights suit against the City of New York as one of the defendents. Any reason why City Hall might be off-limits this time? Perhaps someone should ask the Mayor's office.

UPDATE: [noon, Friday, May 19] The Brooklyn College MFA Press Conference originally scheduled for 1 pm today has been POSTPONED. Details to follow.


Brooklyn College MFA students, members of the faculty and attorneys Norman Siegel and Steven Hyman will hold a press conference tomorrow afternoon announcing the filing of a lawsuit against the City of New York, the New York City Parks Department and Brooklyn College.

The location is the Law Offices of McLaughlin & Stern at 260 Madison Avenue (Betw. 38th and 39th) on the 20th Floor. The time is 1 pm.

I'll be there.

For the background, see this blog and my six subsequent posts linked there at the bottom of the text.



Lèse majesté? Was sex the beard for political censorship?

From a story in the Fine Arts section of the NYTimes on Friday:

In addition to the hand-and-penis sculpture, works in the show included a video with sexual overtones in which women are dressed as nuns, and a watercolor of a man's torso, with an accompanying narrative about a sexual encounter between two men, one of whom used the computer screen name Dick Cheney.
I don't know about you, but I suspect what really might have done it for our self-appointed middle-aged, white male Parks Department guardian of public morals and social orthodoxy wasn't the penis or the nuns (I can doubt whether Julius Spiegel cares much about either); it was more likely the combination of homosex and the Vice President of the United States.

We love Carl Ferrero's art. Everything I've seen him do is mighty fine, when it's not actually breathtaking.

I still don't know exactly which offending image or images of Ferrero's is/are in the show summarily shut down on May 4, but the entire world will be able to see his work and that of all the Brooklyn College MFA candidates when it re-opens in DUMBO; there will certainly be a media presence. The [second] reception will be on Wednesday May 24th from 6 to 9 at 70 Washington St. (down under the manhattan bridge overpass) in Brooklyn.

ADDENDUM: See this related story which appeared on the last page of today's print edition of the NYTimes:

China Orders Art Galleries to Remove Paintings With Political Themes

Several galleries in this city's thriving arts district were recently ordered by government officials to remove more than 20 paintings, apparently because they dealt with political themes, artists and gallery directors here said.

[images from Carl Ferrero]

This page is an archive of entries in the Queer category from May 2006.

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