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freedom of speech?
December 15, 2004 8:51 AM   Subscribe

new york art show shuttered due to controversial portrait of the president
beginning of the end of free speech?
posted by specialk420 (70 comments total)

 
beginning of the end of free speech?

no. looks to me like things got heated and the gallery closed the show. people are dumb. the sky ain't falling.

next?
posted by glenwood at 8:54 AM on December 15, 2004


beginning?

Speech has never been free, it is always restricted, seems to be getting more and more restricted nowadays, but that's what happens in a polarized atmosphere with the monkey at the helm. However, this looks like an absurd reaction by someone that had some clout. ferchistsakes most of the best art is controversial,
posted by edgeways at 8:58 AM on December 15, 2004


Article says that the show was closed after a manager saw the piece, which I assume means a manager of the gallery... He can show whatever art he wants I suppose, though he would probably want to make these decisions before the opening.
posted by outsider at 8:58 AM on December 15, 2004


Sort of, glenwood. Actually the venue is a public market here and its managers closed the show, against the curator's and artist's wishes. It's stupid of the market to agree to put on a show and then demand things be removed -- but, it's their property, eh?
posted by RJ Reynolds at 8:58 AM on December 15, 2004


next?
posted by glenwood at 8:54 AM PST on December 15


I would posit Italy, 1921.
posted by Mean Mr. Bucket at 8:59 AM on December 15, 2004


You mean he's not really made out of monkeys?

By the by, are FPP's with Reuters links not taboo? I seem to remember something to that effect.
posted by Miss Bitchy Pants at 9:00 AM on December 15, 2004


Yeah, nothing special here. Just the same old nobody-can-diss-our-fearless-leader stuff. We have always been at war with Disrespectful Art.
posted by soyjoy at 9:01 AM on December 15, 2004


how is this "censorship"? the gallery manager closed the show because he couldn't deal with the public reaction. Big deal. If the cops had shut it down, now, that would be interesting.
posted by Mars Saxman at 9:02 AM on December 15, 2004


a better view of the work in question. is this just another small example of the putinization of america?
posted by specialk420 at 9:03 AM on December 15, 2004


go show it at another gallery? sounds like a enterprising solution
posted by Hands of Manos at 9:04 AM on December 15, 2004


By the by, are FPP's with Reuters links not taboo? I seem to remember something to that effect.

yes, NewsFilter posts are generally considered bad. Also bad: discussing the merits of posts outside of metatalk. Whew this is hard!
posted by glenwood at 9:05 AM on December 15, 2004


Please, think of the monkeys!
posted by Foosnark at 9:08 AM on December 15, 2004


The defining quote from the manager: "Get this work down or I'm gonna arrest you." That's the bit that caught my eye.
posted by RockCorpse at 9:09 AM on December 15, 2004


Rarely do I find cause to celebrate my hometown. Savido's done the 'Burgh proud.
posted by jefgodesky at 9:10 AM on December 15, 2004


The manager's a genius. He single-handedly upped the value of the piece threefold.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:14 AM on December 15, 2004


also to note....bad news is good news. I'd never, ever known about this piece of work had it not been for this blurb. So Savido should not be too upset with this.

People make their unforgettable mark in history when they do bold and brave things...you know...like those....damn...those chicks from dixie that said something about being ashamed of someone in some other state.... man I forget
posted by Hands of Manos at 9:14 AM on December 15, 2004


Hey, at least he used the monkey's faces...
posted by GernBlandston at 9:15 AM on December 15, 2004


um, let me see if i get this: it's possibly the end of free speech because it's a picture of bush?

get. serious. specialk420.
posted by quonsar at 9:16 AM on December 15, 2004


Would the same painting have been as objectionable if the artist had chosen a different animal? What if someone were to construct a portrait of Bush from, say, white doves? Or bald eagles? Or elephants, the symbol of Bush's party? Is this all because the manager just doesn't want to admit that his leader really does look like an underevolved primate?
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:17 AM on December 15, 2004


TAKE IT DOWN OR GETS ARRESTED!
posted by Hands of Manos at 9:19 AM on December 15, 2004


Hey, at least he used the monkey's faces...

I read this as feces first, which is much funnier!
posted by tr33hggr at 9:21 AM on December 15, 2004


No, quonsar, it's the beginning of the end of free speech. Or close to it. It's almost the end of the beginning of the end of free speech. Beginning now, we're beginning to see the end of the beginning of the end of free speech.

Plus, monkeys were a factor.
Seriously.
posted by Floydd at 9:22 AM on December 15, 2004


Well, gee. I thought that it would be something a bit more, well, contraversial or violent. Like Bush wearing a PVC bondage suit or Bush as a dead body. But monkeys? What is the big deal about that?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:25 AM on December 15, 2004


Ha. Ha. Ha. Putinization.
Page us when we start fucking poisoning our political enemies.

Now, write this on the chalkboard 50 times:

I will take fewer bonghits before posting kneejerk reactions.
I will take fewer bonghits before posting kneejerk reactions.
I will take fewer bonghits before posting kneejerk reactions.
posted by darukaru at 9:25 AM on December 15, 2004


By the by, are FPP's with Reuters links not taboo?

were some new rules passed by the new hordes missed out on?
posted by specialk420 at 9:26 AM on December 15, 2004


Page us when we start fucking poisoning our political enemies.
posted by specialk420 at 9:29 AM on December 15, 2004


You think they took out Wellstone with surface to air missles, don't you?
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 9:35 AM on December 15, 2004


Imagine if instead of monkeys, the image of Bush had been comprised of hundreds upon hundreds of gleaming pink assholes. Then people would really be upset.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 9:36 AM on December 15, 2004


Re-reading I withdraw that. Thought you were implying that Webb was assassinated.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 9:37 AM on December 15, 2004


Single links to news stories are pretty weak. It would be nice if you had something to back it up with, or more of a point to make here.

Also, the portrait is pretty shitty.
posted by graventy at 9:39 AM on December 15, 2004


"Get this work down or I'm gonna arrest you."

Arrest him for what exactly?
posted by Dillenger69 at 9:39 AM on December 15, 2004


Hands of Manos, that was awesome.
posted by Bugbread at 9:44 AM on December 15, 2004


By the way, why does everyone think this is such dangerous art? Am I the only one thinking the whole W=monkey=moron thing hasn't been working for the Left particularly well? Like it's been getting its ass kicked everywhere west of Burlington, Vermont? Personally, I'd guess if Bush/Rove even noticed the sophomoric crap's existence, they'd think it was just fine.
posted by mojohand at 9:49 AM on December 15, 2004


Arrest him for what exactly?

The great ambiguous catch-all crime used to arrest anyone doing something that annoys authority: disturbing the peace.
posted by caddis at 9:50 AM on December 15, 2004


Re-reading I withdraw that. Thought you were implying that Webb was assassinated.

Pink: if you're looking for dopey insinuations regarding Webb's "assassination", look no further than Monday. Brought to you by the same people who claim Kerry won Ohio, Wellstone's plane was shot down, terror alert levels were raised to bump John Edwards out of the news, Roosevelt allowed Pearl Harbor, Mumia was framed, and disco fell out of favor because of racism and homophobia.

Hail Metafilter.

how is this "censorship"? the gallery manager closed the show because he couldn't deal with the public reaction. Big deal. If the cops had shut it down, now, that would be interesting.

Yes.

Am I the only one thinking the whole W=monkey=moron thing hasn't been working for the Left particularly well?

No.
posted by dhoyt at 9:54 AM on December 15, 2004


Am I the only one thinking the whole W=monkey=moron thing hasn't been working for the Left particularly well?

Seriously. How 'bout a portrait of Bush made of images of dead Iraqi children?
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 9:54 AM on December 15, 2004


Isn't this just a new run of old news? I seem to recall some controversial art in the 1990s that Giuliani had a fit over. This isn't the beginning of the end of free speech, it's a continuation of the battle for free speech.
posted by Arch Stanton at 9:54 AM on December 15, 2004


It's a small thing, but as a New Yorker it rankles me that it's happening here. Not just here, but in Chelsea, which is known for its nightlife, galleries, and gay scene.

If this kind of right-wing political correctness is infecting Chelsea, where and what next?

If you care to contact the management of Chelsea Markets, you can do so here.

And you can buy a copy of Bush Monkeys from the artist here.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 10:00 AM on December 15, 2004


The ignorant tool of a manager apparently didn't know that monkeys are a venerated animal in Chinese astrology. To wit:


posted by RockCorpse at 10:02 AM on December 15, 2004


Stop overreacting or I'm going to arrest you
posted by Mick at 10:03 AM on December 15, 2004


Hand of Manos that is maybe the most upsetting and disturbing thing i have ever maybe seen.
posted by glenwood at 10:06 AM on December 15, 2004


This really is nothing new. See Andres Serrano's Piss Christ (a stunning photo of a crucifix submerged in urine) or Dread Scott's What is the Proper Way to Display the American Flag? (where an American flag was placed on the floor in front of a book viewers were asked to leave comments in) for more instances where artists have made critiques of certain aspects of conservatism, only to be met by outrage.
posted by ScottUltra at 10:20 AM on December 15, 2004


Hey, at least he used the monkey's faces...
posted by GernBlandston at 9:15 AM PST on December 15


How can we tell?
posted by nofundy at 10:21 AM on December 15, 2004


how is this "censorship"? the gallery manager closed the show because he couldn't deal with the public reaction. Big deal. If the cops had shut it down, now, that would be interesting.

Which source did you get that from? I can't find anything about the manager reacting to the public. All I see is information about a manager who couldn't personally deal with the art. Of course it's within his rights to remove things from his own gallery, no question about that, but you're insinuating that the guy actually got complaints about it, and as a result, removed it. Where are you getting this from?
posted by odinsdream at 10:30 AM on December 15, 2004


Hand of Manos that is maybe the most upsetting and disturbing thing i have ever maybe seen.

no glenwood, seeing our christian president getting defamed by God Condemned monkeys, WHO TEMPTED EVE IN THE GARDEN....is upsetting!
posted by Hands of Manos at 10:42 AM on December 15, 2004


Artifice_Eternity, take some comfort in:

A) The artist got tons of promotion, and will sell more of his work.
B) The manager will probably get fired, it being Chelsea and all.
posted by mkultra at 10:42 AM on December 15, 2004


how about bush's face on a donkey's ass? or bush as a gay cowboy in one of madonna's videos sexually humiliating iraqi prisoners? what else?
posted by yedgar at 10:46 AM on December 15, 2004


Am I the only one thinking the whole W=monkey=moron thing hasn't been working for the Left particularly well

Yeah, I think the bush=monkey thing is pretty childish. And I think the big fuss over such a lousy piece of art is amazing...my first thought was this monkies-as-bush portrait was a really lame piece of Photoshopping...but instead, it is acrylic made to look like Photoshop (which is surprising since the rest of his stuff on his site is really honestly good).

Anyways: GW as monkey = trite (and I can't stand GW). But hey, i'm no art critic.
posted by tpl1212 at 11:10 AM on December 15, 2004


This reminds me of a friend who was invited to submit a work for an "anti-censorship" show, and was told his work couldn't be displayed because it was too offensive.
It was a painting of a well known TV preacher masturbating to pornography performed by cartoon characters, in a cutesy, Frank Kozic sort of style.
posted by 2sheets at 11:17 AM on December 15, 2004


Is this guy's 15 minutes of fame up yet? Or do we need to wait until the end of the auction?

and...on a related note...is anybody besides me tired of the word "auction" and wish that ebay had never happened...?

Thread hijacked......
posted by HuronBob at 11:21 AM on December 15, 2004


No, I don't think this is "the beginning of the end of free speech", but rather just another chapter in the history rude and preemptory building managers freaking out about political art, and savvy artists riding the controversy to BIG CASH!

For heaven's sake, people, there was a riot at the first performance of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring. One building manager mouthing off about how he was going to "arrest" the artist (with what? his special Lone Ranger badge?) hardly compares.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:27 AM on December 15, 2004


Chelsea Markets is a bobo gourmet food mall, and -- except for the political content -- this art should fit right in. It's politics as decorative art. Easily consumable.

If you're going to make a "Piss Christ" or dung-covered Virgin, put some forethought into -- Serrano and Offili gave the public that courtesy at least. There are many, many people who stand with Voltaire when he said: "I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it." But who is willing to die for the sake of food-court visual muzak? I doubt the artist himself could defend this piece.
posted by eatitlive at 11:39 AM on December 15, 2004


eatitlive: Defend it? What's there to defend? The president resembles a monkey - that much is undeniable. Some people look like animals, and he looks like a monkey. This isn't some conspiracy theory.
posted by odinsdream at 11:49 AM on December 15, 2004


This is it. A portrait of Bush with monkeys? You mean there's no urine, no feces, no semen, no period blood? Not even a few boogers?

I thought this was supposed to be an art show.
posted by jefbla at 11:55 AM on December 15, 2004


Yep, odinsdream. Bush is a simian. It made for a good website back in Y2K.

Oh, and look, the poor kid is trying to point out the merits of the artwork by explaining its symbolism. To an artist, that's like admitting defeat.
posted by eatitlive at 12:01 PM on December 15, 2004


You mean he's not really made out of monkeys?

Exactly, you're all missing it, the work is pro-evolution, anti-creationist.
posted by scheptech at 12:47 PM on December 15, 2004


Yep. We're ALL made out of monkeys. scheptech wins.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:02 PM on December 15, 2004


Voltaire when he said: "I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it."

Actually, Voltaire didn't say that, it was made up by a biographer.
posted by signal at 1:15 PM on December 15, 2004


so, an infinite number of monkeys cannot type out the works of Shakespeare (yet - look at the state of the Intarwebs), but 200 of them can make a president. is each one an electoral vote?
posted by zombiejesus at 1:17 PM on December 15, 2004


HandsOfManos: Bush made out of toast, that I'd like to see.
posted by Infinite Jest at 1:45 PM on December 15, 2004


It wasn't "made up" by a biographer, exactly; it was a brief paraphrase of a point Voltaire was making in a long exchange of letters.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:52 PM on December 15, 2004


Isn't this just a new run of old news? I seem to recall some controversial art in the 1990s that Giuliani had a fit over. This isn't the beginning of the end of free speech, it's a continuation of the battle for free speech.

Read about how much some people hated The Holy Virgin Mary and the ways in which people attempted to destroy this and other pieces of art at Art Crimes.
posted by 23skidoo at 2:08 PM on December 15, 2004


Fuzzy Monster

Bush Asshole Mosaic
posted by Mr_Zero at 2:24 PM on December 15, 2004


Imagine if instead of monkeys, the image of Bush had been comprised of hundreds upon hundreds of gleaming pink assholes. Then people would really be upset.

Oh my God, Mr. Zero wins for all time.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:10 PM on December 15, 2004


how is this "censorship"? the gallery manager closed the show because he couldn't deal with the public reaction. Big deal. If the cops had shut it down, now, that would be interesting.

Bingo! Seems a lot of people don't understand the concept of "censorship."

The Gallery manager was expressing his/her own speech by deciding to not show this 'art'.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 3:14 PM on December 15, 2004


Bingo! Seems a lot of people don't understand the concept of "censorship."

You're right. It's not censorship in the First Amendment sense. But I find the idea of public reaction forcing the closure of an art show, or the banning of a book, or anything similar, somewhat disturbing.
posted by Infinite Jest at 3:22 PM on December 15, 2004


You're right. It's not censorship in the First Amendment sense. But I find the idea of public reaction forcing the closure of an art show, or the banning of a book, or anything similar, somewhat disturbing.

So instead, you prefer people to be forced to display something they don't like on their own property?
posted by elvolio at 3:44 PM on December 15, 2004


elvolio: So instead, you prefer people to be forced to display something they don't like on their own property?

I don't. On the other hand, I have no objection to pointing out the cowardice of so-called "supporters of the arts" who cave over something as banal as this work.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:56 PM on December 15, 2004


So instead, you prefer people to be forced to display something they don't like on their own property?

Um, I don't see how you get that from my post.

He was happy enough to display it.
Some members of the public reacted negatively.
He took it down.

Mob rule. Not a good thing. Especially as the entire show, of which this was one piece out of 60, was shut down.

Oops: on preview, I re-read the article and see it was his individual reaction, and it was the first time he'd seen the painting, rather than him taking it down because of public pressure. My opinion on the dangers of mob rule stands, but I was wrong in this case.

It's still pretty damn crazy that he shut down the whole show because of this one piece, though.
posted by Infinite Jest at 4:02 PM on December 15, 2004


I don't disagree that the owner was a coward and a pretty poor manager -- if you are someone who will shut down an art show you don't like, best to review the art before you display it. And IMNSHO he overreacted to what was really an uninspired piece of art where the theme is recycling a tired piece of partisanship.

I just believe that private individuals should be able to shut down (or put up) art displays on their own property at will, whether it's because they don't like it or because their customers don't. We each have the right to expression, though sometimes that doesn't mean we're right in doing so. The owner expressed his opinion, took action well within his rights -- the same rights that allow that artist to create the work and another owner to display it -- and everybody wins. Just another ordinary, everyday transaction in a free society.
posted by elvolio at 4:26 PM on December 15, 2004


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