Does anyone actually remember Robert Mapplethorpe any more? I sure do. I learned of him when I was 12. The government made me want to look at his photographs long before they were available to me. This was before the internet when I couldn’t Google them. All because I read that one of his shows was being pulled at the Corcoran due to meddling from an over-reaching congress. That’s right, the Government interaction made me, a 12 year old boy want to see photographs of a man sticking a bull whip up his ass. Because I was told by my Government that I it was offensive.
The funny thing about this is, that I find Mapplethorpe’s homo-erotic work kind of dull and boring. I love his work though. He is truly one of the greatest photographers to ever have lived, creating such stark contrast in his saturated photos. Had it not been for the Corcoran scandal, I probably would not have developed my interest in photography the way that I have. I have chased that black and white contrast since I got my hands on a camera a few years later.
I am terribly outraged that another DC Establishment Gallery, owned not by the Catholic League or the fuck nut representatives in congress, but by us, The American People, has bowed to vile idiocy once again. It seems that 11 seconds of a forgettable video installation is enough to offend the Catholics once again. This week, The National Gallery of Art removed a piece of art due to pressure from the Catholic League. Members of Congress, not surprisingly Republicans, have called the funding of Hide/Seek “questionable” stating that the private funds that were actually utilized to fund exhibit, “inconsequential”. As the salaries for the employees at the Smithsonian are dished out by these idiots that sit on these committees, that appears to be the point.
I find it ironic that the Catholic League, a public face to the faltering Catholic religion is worried about 11 seconds of a crappy video in a PUBLICLY FUNDED art installation and not the fact that, I don’t know, priests are fucking kids. There is something very broken in any organization that has a public relations nightmare that involves children being sexually assaulted by grown men. Catholic League, seriously, get your heads out of those boys asses and realize just how short sighted this “outrage” is.
The sad part is, this muckraking bullshit seems to have started because a NY journalist decided to ask them for a quote about David Wojnarowicz “A Fire In My Belly” and the 11 seconds of ants crawling about a discarded crucifix. Why on earth this genius of the mainstream press would go out of his way to ask such a banal question, one that any normal, thinking person could answer is beyond comprehension.
People in this country have the right to heavily criticize religion in art. It is crucial to the freedom of speech, which includes the introduction of dialog into the public forum, like museums owned by the public through our tax dollars, that art that may be controversial is seen. When the government, and the paid employees at these institutions allows for censorship to occur at the hands of religion, violations to the 1st amendment of the constitution have thus occurred. The Catholic League is more then free to air their grievances, and a response in writing addressing those concerns should be expected and delivered. But under no circumstances do the powers at the Smithsonian even have the right to censure an exhibit, especially one that was in fact culled due to the private donations of individuals and corporations.
Hide/Seek is a beautiful exhibit. I know, I have seen it myself. There is some great art, some disturbing art (including a portrait of a corpse that is larger than life) and some really boring art that I failed to connect to the over all theme other than it being created by a gay American artist. Personally, I have little time for video installations. Even one that features Diamada Galas. I passed by this piece when I visited a few weeks ago without notice. Even after reading about it, and including it below, I have little interest in it. But that’s just me.
I feel like ranting and ranting and ranting about this. I want to talk about how this is an attack on not just Gay Culture, but American Culture; how this is an attack on all the amazing contributions made by Gay Artists. I want to talk about how sad it makes me that my public spaces and your public spaces are controlled by ranting idiots. They aren’t idiots because they don’t understand art, but because they don’t understand that it is just this kind of discourse that art creates that is so important to our country. It is this dialog that makes America so beautiful and powerful and free. It is not our military/capitalist constructs that keep us safe, but the conversations we have about religion. Art is necessary and it is necessary that art be shown in public places. No matter how uncomfortable it makes us feel.
For more on the subject from the Washington Post, go here and here. To see the video, well, it’s below. You may have to sign in because apparently youtube has age restrictions on “questionable” content.