NY TImes, 5/12
We STILL have not been allowed to see our artwork. We are hoping to look at it soon and asses the damages before we move anything to the new space.
Students Relocate a Shuttered Art Show
By RANDY KENNEDY
Published: May 12, 2006
A group of graduate art students whose thesis exhibition was shut down last week after a city official found it offensive have accepted an offer by their college to relocate the show to the Dumbo neighborhood in Brooklyn.
On May 4, a day after the Brooklyn College exhibition opened, the Brooklyn parks commissioner, Julius Spiegel, ordered it closed and changed the locks to the exhibition space, a World War II memorial hall near the Brooklyn Bridge. He said that some of the artworks — featuring, among other things, a live rat and a sculpture of a hand holding a penis — were not appropriate for families, violating an oral agreement he said his department had reached six years ago with Brooklyn College on the use of the space.
On Monday, over the objections of the 18 students involved, the college sent trucks and removed all the artworks from the hall. The students protested and began planning to file a federal lawsuit against both the Parks Department and the college, claiming that their free-speech rights had been violated.
In addition to the hand-and-penis sculpture, works in the show included a video with sexual overtones in which women are dressed as nuns, and a watercolor of a man's torso, with an accompanying narrative about a sexual encounter between two men, one of whom used the computer screen name Dick Cheney.
The students said yesterday that while they still planned to file the lawsuit, they had agreed to a proposal to reopen the exhibition at 70 Washington Street in Brooklyn because they felt it was important for the work to be seen. The relocated show is to open on May 24 and continue through June 16.
The new location, with 6,000 square feet of unoccupied retail space on the ground floor of a building that houses luxury condominiums, was offered free to the college by David C. Walentas, a major developer in the neighborhood. For several years Mr. Walentas had leased space in the 12-story building at low rents to artists and small galleries, but all had to leave in 2004 to make way for the condo conversion.
"There was definitely some heated argument about the philosophical implications of what we're doing, but I think the majority of the students wanted to do this," said Marni Kotak, one of the artists. "We wanted to do this as quickly as possible, so we could basically move on from this whole situation."