AA Bronson Asks Smithsonian to Remove His Work from Hide/Seek
by Jen Graves
on Thu, Dec 16, 2010 at 8:47 AM
AA Bronson's "Felix, June 5, 1994" (1994/99): This is the image Bronson has requested be removed from Hide/Seek. It depicts Felix Partz, a collaborator with Bronson in the Toronto-based collective General Idea. Partz died in 1994 of an AIDS-related illness.
He wrote this letter to NPG director Martin Sullivan:
Dear Martin Sullivan,
I have sent an email to the National Gallery of Canada requesting that they remove my work “Felix, June 5, 1994″ from the “Hide/Seek” exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. I had resisted taking this step, hoping that some reconciliation could be reached regarding the censorship of the David Wojnarowicz video, but it is clear that this is not coming any time soon. As an artist who saw first hand the tremendous agony and pain that so many of my generation lived through, and died with, I cannot take the decision of the Smithsonian lightly. To edit queer history in this way is hurtful and disrespectful.
Seattle Art Museum has linked, in its posting of the statement, to the video online. SAM director Cartwright has not yet said whether it will play the video inside its institution, but the link is a good opening foray.
Sylvia Wolf of the Henry, on the other hand, sent this email last night, indicating the Henry will organize a whole small show to be up through February 13 (when Hide/Seek closes) of the video, another work by Wojnarowicz, and additionally the various responses and articles swirling around the censorship:
In addition to the statement from regional art museum directors we put together earlier this week (attached), the Henry will screen Fire in my Belly alongside Wojnarowicz’s One Day This Kid poster, and the various statements, museums responses, and articles surrounding the issue in one of our galleries starting tomorrow and remaining on view until February 13, when Hide/Seek closes at the National Portrait Gallery.
Our team is also in the planning stages for a community conversation at the Henry. As a framework, we are considering open with a museum directors’ panel in the auditorium; followed by a 30 minute breakout session where smaller groups of attendees could formulate questions and topics for discussion; and then return to the auditorium for a larger community conversation.
...I am heading out on Friday for the holiday, but will visit the National Portrait Gallery this Sunday to see the show for myself.