Saturday, June 02, 2007

Remember This?

The Holy Virgin Mary by Chris Ofili
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 ?


  1. Anonymous03 June, 2007

    OMG- if Guilaini becomes president, or if another republican is voted into office...Im outta here...Roatan Island, here I come!

  2. Anonymous11 June, 2007

    I believe that most citizens would agree that the plaza had deteriorated into a cheap, sleezy flea market atmosphere. Something had to be done. Maybe we don't all agree with the city's definition of art, but a line needed to be drawn. Buying cheap prints at WalMart and then reselling them in the plaza just does not cut it. That is what flea markets are for and the county offers such venues. Nothing will turn off tourists more than a seedy carnival like atmosphere in our plaza.

  3. Anonymous11 June, 2007

    "Nothing will turn off tourists more than a seedy carnival like atmosphere in our plaza." Reply:

    You are six months behind the City invoking Mastrovincenzo vs. Guiliani. This is past business.

    "Buying cheap prints at WalMart and then reselling them in the plaza just does not cut it."

    Reply.We agree with the above statement. But here's the thing.
    1. Anyone who buys prints at retail
    and sells is a fool since the markup would be so minimal that inventory eventually could not be replaced.

    2. Preventing someone from doing this would be a violation of their constitutional rights. We may not like it and local ordinances may tell them that they cannot, but facts are facts. Debate all you want. Offer your opinion but try to prevent this and you are opening the door to a lawsuit.Chilling effect.

    By the way, we know of no art vendor doing such a thing in the Plaza.

  4. Anonymous12 June, 2007

    "Buying cheap reprints and then selling them in the plaza"??? I don't believe I ever witnessed such a thing. Perhaps "anonymous" wasn't too savvy to what's art and what's not and got scammed themselves...

  5. Anonymous13 June, 2007

    The last time I came downtown and visited the galleries around the plaza I found that they were presenting reproductions as "investment" art. Just because it is on canvas and smeared with an assistant's brush does not make it heirloom art though thousands of dollars asked and no doubt received by an unaware (duped) public.