Sunday, May 07, 2006

AP WIre, Newsday 5/7/06

Our latest Press Release hit the AP wire tonight and has been covered by Newsday

Brooklyn College students protest shut down of exhibit

May 7, 2006

NEW YORK (AP) _ A group of Brooklyn College Master of Fine Arts students demanded an exhibit of their work be reopened after city park officials shut it down.

The students say parks officials violated their First Amendment rights Thursday when they closed the Brooklyn College MFA Thesis exhibition at the Brooklyn War Memorial.

Over the weekend dozens of students protested outside the memorial's locked doors.

The building near the Brooklyn Bridge is city-owned. City officials closed the show after receiving complaints about the exhibit that's called "Plan B."

The exhibit contained watercolors depicting gay sex and sculpted male genitalia illuminated in a box. Another work featured a white pet rat.

The city Parks Department said an agreement with the college stipulated that art exhibits at the memorial be "appropriate for families."

In a statement released Sunday, the students said: "Government should not be in a position to make decisions about what constitutes appropriate content in art."

The students also said they never had an agreement with park officials and any such contract would be "unconstitutional."

"We were never made aware of any agreement between the NYC Parks Department and the Brooklyn College Administration regarding any restrictions on the nature of the content shown in student exhibitions in the space," according to the statement.

The students want the show reopened _ with a disclaimer to the public posted outside the memorial building _ or moved to a comparable venue.

Last week, the college's provost said the show would be moved to the campus, a move the art students oppose.

The students plan to meet Monday with Brooklyn College officials to discuss the matter, according to the statement.

The student show, a graduation requirement, is the thesis for the MFA degree.

The exhibition had been scheduled to run through May 25.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Christian Viewpoint Banned Again

Censorship in North Carolina:

"The Sampson County school system stands behind a decision to suspend a student for passing out Christian leaflets at Midway High School, Superintendent Stewart Hobbs said Friday... The handouts, which presented a Christian viewpoint on homosexuality, caused a disturbance in the school and prompted some students, teachers and a parent to complain, Hobbs said".

The school can teach that homosexuality is good and wonderful but nobody is allowed to give the opposite message, apparently.

In Matthew 28:18,19 Jesus said: "Go ye therefore and teach all nations ... teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you". So the kid was just practicing his religion -- and THAT is constitutionally protected. The kid was not doing it in class time.

The reason honcho Hobbs mentioned "disturbance" is because anything that disrupts teaching has reasonably been held by the courts to trump free speech. But there was no teaching disrupted and it is surely in any case disrupters who should be disciplined rather than someone peacefully handing out leaflets.

Anyway, the school is now in the courts over it. It is really amazing the lengths they go to in order to preach a Leftist gospel on the taxpayer's dime.

Comments? Email John Ray. My old posts on this blog can be found here or here

10:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keep the leftest crap shutdown. THese so called student "Artists" are a joke. ZERO Talent

10:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw some of the artwork. Talk about lowering standards! I guess they let anyone into college these days.

10:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From the Numberer:

What did I tell you guys....these kinds of respoinses were as predictable as an episode of Married With Children, and about as interestiung and informed. Keep your eyes on the prize. People will have even worse things to say about your art. Keep your head high.

11:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Could you fill us in about the meeting with the adminsitration?

3:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From the Numberer:

I just want you to know that, if the news reports I am now hearing are correct about you moving the art, my immediate presumption is that you made the best judgement you could and that you did the best you could in your discussion with the administration.

Now, having made that decision, you have to let roll of your backs any armchair quarterbacks who, from a distance and without having been direct participants, chastise you for moving the art. You have done the best you can.

I know that your resolve was strong and committment to freedom of expression unshakable. My only hope is that no threats were made or that no one told you that a failure to remove the art would have academic repercussions. I can;t believe they would do that.

This is my last word to you wonderful students, and it comes from someone with experience at the highest levels of public relations and adminsitration:

The WNYC radio report I just heard, in which it says that you are moving the art, continues to include that disingenuous and pathetic stuff from Brooklyn College's spokesperson about how proud they are to have your art on campus and how the Brooklyn parks Commish had never complained before.

Well, here's what I have to say to that: The fact remains that the administration at Brooklyn mounted virtually no defense of your rights of free expression, despite what they must be telling you.

I really do understand that the powers that be must have prevalied on them and I am not unsympathetic to their dilemma.

But being well acquainted with these spin statements, I am outraged that Brooklyn continues to throw in phrases about their pride in showing your work on campus, as if that is evidence of their courage.

Why can't they at least be honest and say: "We wished we could have stood up for you, we really do, but for a variety of reasons, mostly political, we had to cave in."

Was anyone at least remotely honest with you? Did anyone admit that they let you down? Or did they continue to throw in the BS about how proud they will be to show your art on campus?

Losing a political battle is one thing. Good people like the admin at Brooklyn do lose sometimes in a city like New York. But for them through their hired PR consultant to continue to tell you how proud they are after you've been screwed is quite another.

I think you MFA students acted with courage.

I wish your administration had shown even minimal backbone when the forces of censorship reared their head.

6:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The pursun who poasted @ 11:48 am kneads to put down hiz/hur painte- brush and cray-onz and lurn howe too spel. And, all-so,; why wood anywuns "hold there head hi" and bee prowd of purvurted "art'??? Eye dont gets it. Can anywun ecksplane?

6:38 PM  
Blogger chris moss said...

thank you anon. #, your support means a lot to us.

And thank you anon. Christian viewpoint, your voice deserves to be heard as well.

More news will be posted soon.

Cheers all,
1/18 CM

7:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looks like they got an alternate, comparable space.

Very strategic to include that in the letter of demands. From the letter:

"Alternatively, If the show will not be re-opened by the Parks Department, the artists request an alternative venue that is equal or better in location and square footage to the Brooklyn War Memorial, and the financial support of Brooklyn College in handling such a move to a new space"

Potentially, everyone saves face: the city gets a penis off its property, the college avoids a nasty black eye, and, most importantly, students get to show their art in a great space.

That said, I hope Seigel and crew keep pursuing this one. What the city did was flat out unconstitutional, no matter what the happy resolution, and no artist-- especially one in college without much power or pull-- should be forced to live under that kind of threat. Someone needs to get, in writing, city policy in these circumstances, and force a change-- for the future.

8:51 PM  
Blogger Tameshk said...

I am MA art history student at Brooklyn College. I dislike any kind of censorship. so I wish you MFA luck. I am posting about this on my blog.

9:22 PM  
Blogger A COLLAGE A DAY said...

Is any work posted online for viewing??


11:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Numberer Couldn't Sleep....

So I got up to read the New York Times on-line. And the story I read about today's events, if true, has made me apoplectic. Is it true that your works were moved without notice and that workers did this without the artists being involved in breaking down the works for transportation?

I really did assume, as I said before, that all parties would act in good faith. I empathized with the administration's position.

But this surprize move, if true, is a completely different matter. They acted with contempt and disrespect. They compounded the already cowardly failure to stand up for your rights with a new example of incompetence, i.e., violating the integrity of your work by moving fragile installations.

Is there no end to the heavy-handed, amateurish, and incompetent manner in which the Brooklyn administration will handle this situation? It's like a nightmare that won't stop.

I have to know one thing: Did they commence the move of your art while you were meeting with them? Again, this is something I can't believe happened. Please tell me it didn't.

So here's the mess they have boxed themselves into: They caved immediately to the Parks Department. They continued to issue amateurish and transparent press releases about how they support your freedom of expression. And then they moved fragile installations and art without your permission.

I have not seen as much contempt shown by administartors for students in years. And all while anouncing their supprt for you. Whew!

So now look what has happened. Instead of being open and honest with you each step of the way, whihc is always the harder path for adminsitrators, instead of making common cause with you, they have ended up with an even more ominous consequence. Lord, did they make make it worse.

Becuase by their actions, they nowhave seriously damaged the reputation of their MFA program in the art community and among propsective students.

They seemed to have no idea that adminstrative support for risky endeavors is the oxygen that fuels a good MFA. Chemistry programs need lab equiopment and research funds. Computer science programs need the latest software. And an MFA program NEEDS to have a reputation among its consituents that it has an administration that will support any infringement of the rights if its students.

Brooklyn College, in its amateurish handling of this and inept public relations strategy, may have essentially forfeited the right to have a first rate MFA. In three days it went from a superb program attracting great students to a program that, while still every bit as superb, will now always be known as the MFA that let its students twist in the wind.

I dont know what body accredits MFA Art programs, but if that body is doing its work it is now drafting a letter to Brooklyn that by acting with such contempt, they have been placed on a form of probation for acting in a manner inconsistent with the requirements of an MFA program.

Perhaps new and prospective students need an insert in their applications and registration packets:

"Warning: While you are about to enter an artistic community of which we are proud, a community with a superb faculty and students, we regret to inform you that you we cannot in good faith assure you that your rights of free expression will be adequately defended if you enroll here. We must further inform you that your art work, once installed, is subject to move wothout prior notice and witout your pasrticipation."

Last point for now: I am sure the Wallentas space is lovely and Ill bet it will be a wonderful exhibit. But consider what Brooklyn got by this off-camopus solution: After caving on the war memorial, and after continuing to claim that they supported your rights, and fater moving your work, the college now gets a place off-camous and can shift the site of the controversy away from the college.

And finally, will someone please tell me what loigc went into Brooklyn College hiring Colleen Roche, Giuliani's former press secretary, to speak for the college on a free expression issue. Prehaps no mayor im America showed more disdain for public art and freedom of expression.

3:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Giuliani was the best Mayor this city ever had.

5:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

John Ray:

I believe in no form of censorship, be it from the left or the right. Everyone deserves to be heard.

5:20 PM  
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