(Update I, and II)
Along with the Removal of “Fire in My Belly” from the National Portrait Gallery’s current exhibition: “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture,”, Jeffrey Deitch, the newly placed Director of MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art), had a work by the Italian Street Artist Blu destroyed due to its political content and the controversy surrounding it (read background here, with video link of whitewashing). The mural, commissioned by Deitch for MOCA’s upcoming “Art in the Street” exhibit, was ostensibly “painted over” due to its facing the Veterans Administration Healthcare building on Temple Street in Downtown Los Angeles and was deemed offensive to members of the military.
On the evening of January 4th a slew of activists, artists and others gathered together to protest the removal and Whitewashing of the piece and the act of censorship it entailed. The group of 30 or so artists/activists congregated in the vacant parking space of MOCA’s Geffen Contemporary to engage in a guerrilla protest performance against the museum and (especially) the decision of its new director Jeffrey Deitch. Facing the museum’s outsized vacant wall, where once the mural had resided, the group projected laser graffiti as a show of solidarity and as a means to heighten awareness of the pieces destruction.
“The group of artists — which included respected Chicano artist/Vietnam War veteran Leo Limon as well as Joey Krebs a.k.a. The Phantom Street Artist — took turns tagging the museum wall using a handmade laser graffiti gun created for the event by artist/computer programmer Todd Moyer. A specially designed computer program animated the light-graffiti so that it looked like dripping paint as it hit the wall.”
Here is a video of the action which includes interviews with the protesters and gives a good sense of the guerrilla art action: Downtown LA BLU MOCA Whitewash Protest // 01.03.2011
The LA times talks about the the gathering: Street artists hold protest performance at MOCA’s Geffen Contemporary , the LA Scene at HP has a slide show Protest at Moca over Blus Mural, and, the best for last, Blu has set up an interesting interactive comment page: “LET’S JUST USE THE RIGHT WORDS” about the murals removal and the handling of it by the Museum.
Over at the National Portrait Gallery in regard to the still removed piece “A Fire in My Belly”, Jim Hedges who lent the Photographic piece, Self-Portrait by artist Jack Pierson, to the current exhibition: “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture, ponders whether to join the artist AA Bronson and ask for the removal and return of his lent piece to the show in protest of the act of censorship.
His conclusion: I have made a decision to rescind my request to remove Jack Pierson’s work from the “Hide/Seek” show. My reasons for wanting to remove the piece all remain intact, likely even more so, than before. However, the artwork, made by Pierson, cared for by me, and shared with hundreds of thousands, is part of an educational dialogue, is part of a story-telling and part of making a minority’s voice and contributions heard. That is more important today than anything else.
Read the whole thing and see if you agree.
Note: Though “A Fire in My Belly” has not been returned to the show, the National Portrait Gallery has the video piece in its entirety on its website. Take a look.
The Artist collective LA Raw initiates some protest/performances about current Art Censorship activities. Check here for a rundown of their actions and calls, with links. (and some of the current work of Blu)