Kerfuffle in the LA Art Scene
December 14, 2010 3:21 AM   Subscribe

Kerfuffle in the LA Art Scene- the possibility that both the mural and its whitewashing are the art - from artist Mario Muller's Truffle Hunting
posted by pt68 (14 comments total)

 
This work seems derivative of the earlier artistic collaboration between Diego Rivera and Nelson Rockefeller.
posted by twoleftfeet at 3:47 AM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm not reading anything at all about Blu intending for the mural to be erased, and to be exact he even said that he isn't going to paint a new mural for them because of what they did. Got a source other than the random wordpress blog?
posted by flatluigi at 4:57 AM on December 14, 2010


Kerfuffling is what the LA art scene does best!
posted by Theta States at 7:02 AM on December 14, 2010


This isn't the first time there has been a "kerfluffle" on that same wall. I remember back in the late 1980s, Barbara Kruger was commissioned to put up a big text mural on that same wall. It was in the shape of the US flag, with text instead of stripes. One set of stripes had questions like "Who laughs last?" Interleaved with the questions was the text of the Pledge of Allegiance.
The residents of Little Tokyo had a shit fit. The Pledge was a divisive issue even unto this day. In the internment camps, internees were forced to recite the pledge every day. The internees were divided in their opinion, mostly the rift was between issei and nissei (first generation immigrants vs. children of immigrants who were born in the US). The issei thought they should not have to recite the pledge. The nissei thought they should recite the pledge, and thought the issei were making a bit issue over nothing, they were Americans now and the issei were trying to be separatists by not joining them. Apparently this rift continued from the WWII era, even unto today, where now those generations have had children and grandchildren (sansei, "third generation" and beyond).
MOCA and Kruger were unprepared for the reaction in the Little Tokyo community. She expected resistance to her pointed political questions, not the Pledge. She figured she might be criticized for being anti-American, she never figured she'd be criticized for being too American by using the Pledge. So MOCA held a forum for the artist to meet with the community, and she was surprised by the vehemence of the objections. There were strong objections, but only by an extremely small number of people, community elders. Kruger decided to change the mural and remove the Pledge. I thought that was a horrible decision, she caved in to pressure from special interest groups, and betrayed the whole point of an artwork like that. It succeeded beyond its wildest dreams in the original format, it brought to light a social rift that had festered in the community for over 40 years and forced people to deal with it. But the village elders decided they had a right to suppress the issue and it will go back underground for another generation.

I've been unable to locate a photo of the actual mural, but here is an image by Kruger that is very similar to the final version without the Pledge.
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:14 AM on December 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


I thought that was a horrible decision, she caved in to pressure from special interest groups

Or, she decided that erasing a misinterpreted political statement is, itself, a political statement. The residents of Little Tokyo aren't a "special interest group." They're members of the community.
posted by muddgirl at 7:40 AM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


I drove South on Alameda and saw the coffin/cash piece before it was painted over. It was underwhelming as an artwork, and is underwhelming as a censorship scandal (or scam). The only saving grace is that no paint or whitewash got on the old ghost sign at the eastern edge of the wall.
posted by Scram at 7:58 AM on December 14, 2010


Street art blogs were buzzing this weekend with word that the L.A. museum had commissioned an Italian artist known as Blu to do a mural on the north wall of the Geffen Contemporary, only to paint over the work before it was officially unveiled because of its political content.
Presumably MOCA was aware of the "political content" at the time of commissioning. Or is there some plausible non-political meaning to "rows of coffins draped in dollar bills instead of flags"? Such a strange story.
posted by muddgirl at 8:09 AM on December 14, 2010


The residents of Little Tokyo aren't a "special interest group." They're members of the community.

Not really. The actual number of members of the community that objected was about 3 or 4 people. But they raised a big stink amongst other elderly issei spread around the county, they joined as a pressure group to get MOCA to take it down. And then there were the other members of the community, like me and about 500 other artists who lived in the Loft District, right across the street from MOCA. We wanted Kruger to be able to express herself without catering to political pressures from fringe groups.

You have to take the political context into account. The local Japanese community was organizing political pressure to the Federal Gov't for reparations for internment. The Japanese bubble economy had just collapsed, the foreign money that was propping up Little Tokyo had disappeared, just as they were trying to expand and build more museums and monuments (like that idiotic "go for broke" monument that sits out in the middle of a parking lot). The elderly issei were dying off and determined to make sure nobody forgot them, even if they had to reactivate old wounds that divided the community. I thought it was sickening.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:27 AM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


And then there were the other members of the community, like me and about 500 other artists who lived in the Loft District, right across the street from MOCA. We wanted Kruger to be able to express herself without catering to political pressures from fringe groups.

And I want Kreuger to be able to make decisions about her art without having to consult the feelings of other artists (after all, she could have said, "Fuck off, either paint this mural or don't") It seems extremely disrespectful to fight for Kreuger's artistic rights without, you know, supporting Kreuger's artistic rights.
posted by muddgirl at 8:33 AM on December 14, 2010


If MOCA wasn't giving off an overwhelming scent of desperation lately I'd be more likely to believe this wasn't all part of the plan.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 11:15 AM on December 14, 2010


It seems extremely disrespectful to fight for Kreuger's artistic rights without, you know, supporting Kreuger's artistic rights.

You're missing the point. The mural went up the way Kruger designed it. Political pressure was exerted to change it. Many local artists supported her right to put it up the way she designed it, I supported her right to keep it as she intended it.
posted by charlie don't surf at 12:45 PM on December 14, 2010


Hm.

On the one hand, Blu is awesome, I agree with the mural's message, and censorship in evil.

On the other hand, the mural just wasn't very good at all. It's easily, by far, the least interesting Blu piece I've ever seen, aesthetically and conceptually--to the point that I'm not at all convinced of its authenticity.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:27 PM on December 14, 2010


*is* evil
posted by Sys Rq at 8:28 PM on December 14, 2010


Wow, some thought-provoking and rather funny street art has now come out of this situation: a portrait of MOCA Director Jeffrey Deitch as an ayatollah with a whitewashing brush.
posted by Scram at 10:10 AM on December 17, 2010


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