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Thursday, December 16, 2010

AA Bronson Asks Smithsonian to Remove His Work from Hide/Seek

Posted by on Thu, Dec 16, 2010 at 8:47 AM

AA Bronsons 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.
  • Courtesy
  • 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.
Artist and artistic director of the Institute for Art, Religion, and Social Justice AA Bronson doesn't want his work Felix in the censored National Portrait Gallery show anymore.

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.

yours truly,
AA Bronson
Artistic Director

From Hyperallergic.

Meanwhile, the directors of several Northwest art museums have issued a statement about the censorship.

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.


Comments (6) RSS

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Josh Bis 1
Maybe NPG should just post a nice link on its wall where the video used to be screened.
Posted by Josh Bis on December 16, 2010 at 9:27 AM · Report this
Fnarf 2
Gerald Clough and Martin Sullivan need to be fired.
Posted by Fnarf on December 16, 2010 at 10:53 AM · Report this
meowmeowkitty 3
Cantor and Boner were right up in it. Sick fucks.
Posted by meowmeowkitty on December 16, 2010 at 11:16 AM · Report this
Will in Seattle 4
God you guys are a bunch of activist whiners.

We used to have ACT UP protestors break up demonstrations for AIDS funding.

Fat lot of good that did.
Posted by Will in Seattle on December 16, 2010 at 11:17 AM · Report this
Thanks for posting, Jen. The show is up, and it is a modest "show." I hesitate to call it an exhibition. We did our very best to create a comfortable space in the museum where people could view the videos and talk about the issues around the Smithsonian's actions. I'm proud that we could respond in a thoughtful way, and not only share this work of art, but also, hopefully, encourage visitors to think about artistic freedom, the importance of public museums offering spaces for community discourse, and the role of artist as activist. We're open until 9 on Thursdays and Fridays, and 11-4 Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

If Slog readers visit the Henry, and would like to offer suggestions of other articles, responses, and resources that we might include in the exhibition, they're welcome to email links to
Posted by Betsey Brock on December 16, 2010 at 5:08 PM · Report this
Bravo Bronson. Obviously the Catholic Church has exchanged the cross for the swastika! Let's hope more participating artists join Bronson. Mel Schuster
Posted by Mel Schuster on December 21, 2010 at 6:47 AM · Report this

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