Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Brooklyn College Moves MFA Students’ Artwork Without Permission


For press inquiries, please contact:
Marni Kotak

Brooklyn College Moves MFA Students’ Artwork Without Permission

College Trucks Dismantling, Damaging and Hauling Out Student Work Throughout Day

NEW YORK (May 8, 2006, 4:00PM) Beginning this morning and continuing throughout the day, Brooklyn College workers at the Brooklyn War Memorial have been dismantling, damaging and moving student artwork locked within the space without the permission of the MFA students participating in the shut down thesis exhibition.

At approximately 8:15am this morning, Brooklyn College graduating MFA student, Megan Piontkowski, arrived at the Brooklyn War Memorial at 195 Cadman Plaza West in downtown Brooklyn to find three moving trucks and approximately 10-15 movers outside the building. Alarmed, Ms. Piontokowski questioned the movers as to what they were doing. One of the workers responded: “We are cleaning out this place.”

The workers then went inside the gallery space, locked the door, and would not allow Ms. Piontkowski to enter. She then saw them carry out some drywall and pieces of wood, followed by Augusto Marin’s large folding chair sculpture. They dismantled part of Marni Kotak’s installation, placing her rat in the back of a van. Yejin Jun’s wall sculpture titled Push and Pull, a work which took the artist months to create and involved the meticulous act of pressing thousands of pins into the approximately 5’ x 4’ sculptural form, was reportedly damaged during the move. Workers even dismantled Carrie Fucile’s approximately 8’ x 8’ x 10’ installation of a makeshift plywood house custom built for this exhibition, and reportedly stated that they intended to take down and move the entire show back to the Brooklyn College campus today.

Yesterday the students released a statement, citing First Amendment rights which provide for freedom of expression in a public space, that they opposed the decision of Brooklyn College Provost Roberta S. Matthews’ that their works be moved to the Brooklyn College Campus. In the statement the students said that the unilateral decision of Julius Spiegel, Brooklyn Borough Parks Commissioner, to shut down their thesis show “constitutes an act of censorship on the part of the NYC Parks Department.” The students reiterated that they were never made aware of any agreement between the Brooklyn College Administration and the NYC Parks Department governing the nature of the artwork shown within the space. Furthermore, the students stated, such a contract would be “unconstitutional.”

A delegation of students and faculty coordinated a meeting scheduled for this morning at 9:00am at Brooklyn College with Provost Roberta S. Matthews, in order to discuss how the students could work together with the Brooklyn College Administration to resolve the issue and get their show reopened by the Parks Department. The students arrived at the appointed meeting time and location to find the Provost not present. At 9:00am, MFA student Jill Auckenthaler called MFA Department Chairman Michael Mallory and was informed that the Provost had just told him she had cancelled the meeting.

The student show, mounted as a graduation requirement for the Master of Fine Arts Degree at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, was suddenly shut down at about 3:30PM on Thursday, May 4, 2006, by Brooklyn Borough Parks Commissioner, Julius Spiegel, who deemed the work not “appropriate for families.” The artists in the exhibition include: Carla Aspenberg, Jill Auckenthaler, John Avelluto, Zoe Cohen, David Davron, Susan C. Dessel, Carl James Ferrero, Carrie Fucile, Pamela Gordon, Yejin Jun, Diane Kosup, Marni Kotak, Augusto Marin, Akiko Mori, Christopher Moss, Sarah Phillips, Megan Piontkowski and Tamas Veszi.

The exhibition was scheduled to be open through May 25th at the Brooklyn College Art Gallery at the Brooklyn War Memorial Building, Cadman Plaza, in downtown Brooklyn. For further information or to voice your support for the reopening of Plan B, visit http://plancensored.blogspot.com.


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