Times Have Changed: On Censorship

I was just reading Marie Darrieussecq‘s Dispatch (sorry, no link) in the recent Art Review Journal–concerning the “censorship” of Larry Clark’s recent exhibition in Paris–and it reminded me of the recent skirmishes in the U.S. with restrictions on the exhibition and experiencing of artworks. There is of course the recent National Portrait Gallery fiasco over their removal of David Wojnarowicz’s video; Jeffrey Deitch’s change of mind and paint-over at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA); and Ingrid Homberg’s violent ousting from the Gagosian Gallery, NY.

Darrieussecq asks: “Has the precautionary principle been taken too far?” Good question. But I like her ending thought better: “There’s a big difference between purposely choosing to visit an exhibition and being forced to see teenage bodies (particularly girls’) in advertising everywhere.”

The difference of course rests on agency: something we have pretty much forgotten about in both art and legislation. This is where law comes in. Not only should we ask why we depend so much on law, but better yet, why are artists so intent on speaking out against “censorship” in a random and arbitrary manner? Why not take another form of action against so-called “censorship”?

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