Purple Diary

[April 11 2011]

Free Expression in a new age of culture wars: summit tomorrow, New York

The culture wars are back. In light of the recent surge of censorship in the art world, People for the American Way will be hosting a special symposium next week entitled Looking Forward and Fighting Back: Free Expression in a New Age of Culture Wars. Following the Smithsonian’s decision to remove David Wojnarowicz’s video from the Hide/Seek exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, free expression was overrided by the financial power of the Republican congress over the Smithsonian’s funding. Fire In My Belly was far from the first time that Wojnarowicz featured Christ as a representation of suffering and stigmatization. Whilst the commissioner of the National Portrait Gallery resigned, AA Bronson retracted his work from the exhibit. AA Bronson will be speaking amongst a panel which will include Michael Keegan, Norman Lear and culture-war veteran Dennis Barrie, former director of the Cincinnati Contemporary Art Center, who successfully fought criminal obscenity charges in 1990 for the exhibition of Robert Mapplethorpe works. 

How can we fight against the politics of a culture war in the 21st century? As the Right-wing activists threaten the art world with a new form of cultural stewarding in the digital age, the question of how we can move forward – as artists, activists and culture warriors – is one of crucial value to defend the most basic right to freedom in art. 

Looking Forward and Fighting Back: Free Expression in a new age of culture wars will be held Tuesday 12 April at 7.30pm at the New Museum, Theater, 235 Bowery, New York. Photo courtesy of The Estate of David Wojnarowicz and P.P.O.W Gallery, New York. Text Sophie Pinchetti

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