Friday, September 22, 2023

Cooper Union Removes “insensitive” Art (Updated)


Seems like this is the age of institutional censorship and curatorial alterations. That, or another clear example of what happens when political correctness becomes the overriding and fundamental factor in cultural production, to the extent that institutional critiques takes second-fiddle to issues of insensitivity, marking a clear path to a type of fascist appeasement to the lowest common denominator.

November 15, 2008

According to the Boston Globe, the New York Civil Liberties Union has demanded that New York City officials explain why they ordered a private art school to remove a banner displaying an image of Josef Stalin.

UCLA did this a couple of weeks ago, and now Cooper Union’s administration has taken it upon themselves to remove part of an artists work based on what they say was partially based on a mandate from New York’s Buildings Department because Cooper Union did not obtain a permit to hang a banner outside their Foundation Building on East 7th Street. However, it seems that the real reason for the removal was the “insensitivity” factor which seems to pervade American culture at the moment. This time, Cooper Union’s fear that it would offend the Ukrainian community. The banner in question is Picasso’s 1953 depiction of Stalin.

“I didn’t get any explanation of what happened,” Ms. Berg, who is based in Berlin, said in a phone interview this week. She said Cooper Union officials removed the banner last Friday, five days after it went up, without consulting either her or Sara Reisman, associate dean of Cooper Union’s School of Art and the curator of the exhibition.

“I was surprised when the banner went up, and I am pleased that it came down,” said Jaroslaw Leshko, the president of the board of trustees at the Ukrainian Museum on East Sixth Street. Mr. Leshko, a professor emeritus at Smith College, said: “I am an art historian and a profound believer in creative freedom of expression. That will never change.” But putting a giant Stalin banner on the face of the school’s headquarters was insensitive, he said. “Perhaps the banner can still be viewed in another context, inside the building, without an aggressive public face,” he said. “That would satisfy everybody, certainly me. I want the image to exist as a work of art and to have an appropriate presentation.”

More on this story here.


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