Saturday, June 02, 2007
In N.Y.C. during September 1999 then-mayor Rudolph Giuliani made headlines by expressing outrage over the upcoming exhibit Sensation: Young British Artists from the Saatchi Collection, at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. Giuliani announced that several works in the show were "sick" and "disgusting"; and he was infuriated, in particular, by Chris Ofili's The Holy Virgin Mary, a glittering, icon-like painting of an African madonna with a dollop of dried elephant dung near one breast. The painting was not smeared with dung, as some reports had it, and dried elephant dung is not an insulting or blasphemous substance in African culture. Indeed, Ofili used it in works that were clearly respectful, including other works in the Sensation show
Giuliani ordered the Brooklyn Museum to cancel the show. He threatened that if the museum refused, he would freeze funds that the city had already allocated for general operating expenses (the city had not funded Sensation specifically), and would evict the institution from its public premises. On September 28, he stated that taxpayer money should not "be used to support the desecration of important national or religious symbols," and a city press release the same day denounced "an exhibit which besmirches religion and is an insult to the community."
City officials announced that they would withhold the Brooklyn Museum's monthly payment of $497,554, due on October 1, the museum filed a First Amendment lawsuit seeking to stop the retaliation and restore the funds. The city countered with an eviction suit in state court; then argued to the federal judge (unsuccessfully) that she must defer to the state court action.
The Guliani administrations efforts to control "indecent art" was a national story. Many of us shuddered to think that this was an elected leader imposing his "moralistic" (we had already heard of his goomah) taste upon us. Here is a quote from Rudy Giuliani. Do you agree?
"Freedom is about authority. Freedom is about the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion about what you do." Elect this man President?!
The City of St. Augustine has three court cases coming up against artists who were not selling artwork that is "approved" LINK LINK(we are not sure who them is) Are they ready to be tagged a backwater southern town with limited ideas about free speech and what an artist may or may not do ?
Posted by Karl at 11:32 AM