04 December 2010

John Coulthart on the Hide/Seek Controversy

If you haven't read John Coulthart's commentary on the recent controversy over an exhibit at the Smithsonian, do.  It's called "Ecce Homo Redux".  Here's the first paragraph:
If the news of the past few weeks has felt like a re-run of the 1980s—ongoing recession, government cuts, riots in London, Tories casting aspersions on the undeserving poor, the threat of another royal wedding—then add to the list ofdéjà vu moments a flurry of outrage concerning art and religion in America that’s like a recapitulation of the Helms vs. NEA spats of 1989. On that occasion Andres Serrano’s Piss Christ was in the firing line, accused of being a blasphemous portrayal. This week it’s been the turn of a video installation of a short film made the same year, A Fire in My Belly, by David Wojnarowicz, a work featured in an exhibition I linked to a couple of weeks ago, Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture at the National Portrait Gallery, Washington DC. Los Angeles Times piece previewing the exhibition also connected Hide/Seek and the earlier attacks by the right against the NEA, ending by saying “Times and attitudes change”. Well, not always…

1 comment:

  1. I watched the video on-line somewhere earlier this week. It's a very strange piece, far more edgy than what one usually finds in the National Galleries. The Smithsonian has one of the dullest, safest collections of art on the planet.

    It takes a lot of looking to find a nude, a religious or political work on display. Most museums have lots of paintings like these.

    To find the few seconds of video showing the cross with ants crawling on it must have required a lot of looking. I suspect it was done by someone looking for something to complain about.

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