Tyler Green
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Tyler Green Modern Art Notes

Friday notes on the Smithsonian fiasco

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  • As I said on Twitter his morning: We’ve hit the point in the Smithsonian fiasco story that it’s pretty much impossible to keep track of all the developments on the story, particularly all the  museums showing Wojnarowiczes (videos and more) in protest of the Smithsonian’s censorship. (The NYT ‘s Kate Taylor pegs the number of museums and commercial galleries showing the work at north of five dozen.) While I can’t chronicle everyone showing Wojnarowiczes, here are three that are notable: The Museum of Modern Art is showing a version of David Wojnarowicz’s Untitled (One day this kid…) in its second-floor galleries. The Seattle Art Museum is the latest ‘historical’ art museum to show Wojnarowicz. And the Henry Art Gallery isn’t just showing two versions/lengths of A Fire in My Belly, it’s also installed archival and documentary material related to the artist and the Smithsonian’s blunder. Good on all three. (And it’s extra nice to see so many museums picking up on this suggestion!)
  • The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation is following the Warhol Foundation’s lead by cutting off all Smithsonian funding unless the Wojnarowicz is restored to “Hide/Seek.” I think this is a bad, short-sighted, threat/idea. Update: Kriston Capps reports that Mapplethorpe is leaving room for acquisition-funding. Good. Just because Warhol is being dogmatic doesn’t mean everyone needs to be.
  • In a post earlier this week, I was too hard on Walker Art Center director (and former Hirshhorn director) Olga Viso. Yes, she got a key fact wrong in one place. Journos have done the same, including most recently the Boston Globe’s Sebastian Smee. Regardless, most of Viso’s take is spot-on. It’s especially notable that a director as conservative as Viso is willing to rip the Smithsonian. I should have made that clearer.
  • If you’re in Washington, please join “Hide/Seek” co-curator David C. Ward, me and more for a public conversation on the controversy Monday night at the DCJCC.
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  1. Candy Darling says:

    I highly recommend people seek out local museums to view this video. I went to the ICA in Boston. They are projecting two versions of the video (shown in succession) in a small room. It’s a very different experience to view the silent film in a museum, with other people, than to view it online. By the way, the originals are very different from the edited version with Diamanda Galas that is prominent online.

  2. Eric says:

    Looking forward to the DCJCC event. I hope it’s communicated that while the everyone agrees SI’s decision was dumb, it’s not productive or intellectually stimulating to tear the museum apart ad infinitum. The bigger story is that the same museums that now look so progressive for playing a video in their lobby refused to do a show like Hide/Seek.

    Everyone’s initial reaction is to slam the Portrait Gallery for censorship, but where were all these major museums during the past ten years? Self-sensoring content and scholarship? I have never seen a show like Hide/Seek and have never learned so much about LGBTQ/sexually non-comforming artists and historical figures in one space.

  3. […] reports on yesterday’s protest in NYC against the censorhsip. And Modern Art Notes has a helpful links round up on the latest surrounding the […]

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