19 de junio de 2019
ÚLTIMAS NOTICIAS:
English - News

The day a US museum canceled an exhibit due to political pressure

By Alfonso Fernandez

Washington, Jun 14 (efe-epa).- In 1989 the pressure applied by members of Congress forced the canceling of an exhibition by photographer Robert Mapplethorpe at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington; 30 years later the gallery is providing a new look at the turbulent days of that disputed decision.

Few exhibitions are dedicated to recalling how and why an exhibit was suspended days before its inauguration due to censorship, but "6.13.89: The Canceling of the Mapplethorpe Exhibition" is one of them.

Sanjit Sethi, curator of the exhibition and director of what is now the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design at the George Washington University, told EFE in an interview that the idea of the show is "to excavate one of the biggest ghosts of our past."

"Thirty years ago today, the Corcoran Gallery of Art announced that they were canceling 'A Perfect Moment,' the work of Robert Mapplethorpe, so for us it's a very important opportunity to revisit what happens when an institution has canceled an exhibition, and to do so through the lens of us as an educational community," Sethi said.

"You know, I think the implications for the cancelation were profoundly felt internally within the Corcoran, locally, nationally and internationally," the director said. "What does it mean when you have a significant cultural institution caving-in to political pressure? And those repercussions continue today, I think. We still see those."

To begin with, it's necessary to look back three decades.

The new exhibition brings to light documents, letters, the minutes of meetings, newspaper cuttings, protest posters and, of course, a catalogue of the original exhibit that has become a gem for collectors.

"Immoral trash" is what the exhibit was called at the time by Jesse Helms, the powerful Republican senator from North Carolina who together with his New York colleague Al D'Amato were the most critical.

The Mapplethorpe show was partially funded by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and disgruntled lawmakers threatened that agency with budget cuts.

"We realize that the interpretation of art is a subjective evaluation, but there is a very clear and unambiguous line that exists between what can be classified as art and what must be called morally reprehensible trash," more than a score of House members said in a June 8, 1989, letter to the NEA.

The lawmakers blasted the exhibition as "a horrible abuse of tax dollars."

The artist, known for his explicit and stylized images of gay eroticism, had died of AIDS several months before when he was only 42 years old.

Male couples of diverse races hugging, explicit nudes both masculine and feminine, close-ups of the genitals of Mapplethorpe's friends and colleagues, were some of the photos in the original exhibition by the photographer considered one of the landmark artists of the 1970s and '80s.

As a result of the pressure by Congress, an after consulting with the board of directors, the director of the art gallery, Christina Orr-Cahall, announced its cancelation.

Her decision was backed by the museum board on the recommendation of chairman David Lloyd Kreeger.

"It was a close call," Kreeger said at the time. "If you went ahead, I suppose you could say you were upholding freedom of artistic expression against possible political pressure. But you have to consider the larger picture."

"The endowment has been under attack, its appropriation has been cut by the Executive again and again, only to be restored by Congress. And this is a very critical period in the appropriation process. If proceeding with this exhibition hurts NEA appropriations, it is detrimental to the Corcoran and every other art institution," the chairman said.

After the show was canceled, the protests continued and the US capital's artistic community organized demonstrations in front of the museum where they projected some of the photographer's iconic images.

Though the cancelation sought to guarantee its financial well-being, the failed exhibition was a lethal blow to the museum, founded in 1869 and until then one of the most prestigious art galleries in the United States.

In the following years, donations and other forms of financial aid collapsed, and the institution's influence entered a progressive decline to the point that it was sold to GWU in 2014 on condition that it maintain its original mission and that its collection be redistributed to other art centers.

The Corcoran is now trying to look its past squarely in the face.

Comentarios

Histórico de noticias
Kate del Castillo gives voice to Ciudad Juarez victims in New York theater

By Nora Quintanilla

Pence thanks Latin America for generosity in supporting Venezuela's freedom

Miami, Jun 18 (efe-epa).- Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday renewed the "firm" commitment of the Donald Trump administration to Venezuela's "legitimate"...

Aubrey Plaza about murderous Chucky: Horror is a release we need

By David Villafranca

Bolivia inaugurates its 1st capsule hotel

La Paz, Jun 18 (efe-epa).- Comfort and a futuristic style come together in Bolivia's first capsule hotel, which starting this Tuesday will offer lodging to...

Trump's trade rep sees progress on quick USMCA pact approval

Washington, Jun 18 (efe-epa).- US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on Tuesday emphasized his office's "constructive" talks with Democratic lawmakers...

Brazil's Dani Alves returns to the stadium where it all started

By Carlos Meneses Sanchez

Trump: Shanahan withdraws as defense secretary nominee

Washington, Jun 18 (efe-epa).- US President Donald Trump said Tuesday that acting Pentagon chief Patrick Shanahan decided to withdraw from the process to...

OAS rejects claims of election fraud in Guatemala

Guatemala City, Jun 18 (efe-epa).- The head of the electoral mission of the Organization of American States (OAS) for Guatemala rejected Tuesday the...

HRW: Dominican women being denied sexual, reproductive rights

Santo Domingo, Jun 18 (efe-epa).- Teenage girls in the Dominican Republic are being denied their sexual and reproductive rights, including access to safe...

Mexico's president tops 1 mn YouTube subscribers

Mexico City, Jun 18 (efe-epa).- Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Tuesday celebrated topping 1 million subscribers on his YouTube channel,...

Santos administration left no money for peace projects, Colombian VP says

By Jaime Ortega and Daniel Suarez

Trump says he'll meet with Xi at G20

Washington, Jun 18 (efe-epa).- President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he would have "an extended meeting" with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, at the...

Colombia vs Qatar: clash between Portugal's Queiroz, Spain's Sanchez

Sao Paulo, Jun 18 (efe-epa).- Colombia and Qatar national teams are set to square off against each other with the aim of moving a step closer to qualifying...

Argentina and Paraguay to square off in Copa America battle of the reeling

By Sebastian Meresman

2 people seriously injured during Raptors NBA championship celebration

Toronto, Canada, Jun 17 (efe-epa).- At least two people were seriously injured on Monday during the downtown Toronto celebration of the local Raptors' NBA...

Security buildup curbs flow of migrants into southern Mexico

Suchiate, Mexico, Jun 17 (efe-epa).- The growing presence of Mexican security forces has resulted in a significant reduction in the number of undocumented...

Venezuelan lawmaker accused of rebellion flees to Colombia

Caracas, Jun 17 (efe-epa).- Opposition lawmaker Richard Blanco, accused by the Venezuelan justice system of being involved in the failed military rebellion...

Paris air show opens with Airbus advantage over Boeing

By Angel Calvo

Ancient settlement in Mexico City fights to survive

By Julito Martinez

Guatemalan presidential contest headed to runoff

Guatemala City, Jun 17 (efe-epa).- Social democrat Sandra Torres and center-right hopeful Alejandro Giammattei were the top two vote-getters in the weekend...

Uruguay's Vecino undergoes medical tests, misses Copa America practice

Belo Horizonte, Brazil, Jun 17 (efe-epa).- The Uruguayan national soccer team, which made its Copa America debut over the weekend with a 4-0 blowout of...

Fashion designer Gloria Vanderbilt dies

New York, Jun 17 (efe-epa).- New York fashion designer and socialite Gloria Vanderbilt died Monday, her son, well-known CNN cable news host Anderson Cooper,...

Gunpowder, roast corn, dancing: Brazil has world's biggest feast of St. John

By Carlos Meneses Sanchez

Copa America’s nearly empty stadiums

Porto Alegre (Brazil), Jun 17 (efe-epa).- If fans are the beating heart of soccer, the 2019 Copa America as a slow pulse as its stadium looked nearly empty...