Saturday, June 10, 2023

Deja Vu! Museum Censors Christoph Büchel


I feel like I write a monthly blog entry about a museum somewhere on this planet censoring Christoph Büchel. Here’s June’s entry.

The Hobart Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) was lambasted by Aborigines after they exhibited an installation by Büchel. In that art project, Büchel installed a stand offering DNA testing with a sign that read: “Are you of Aboriginal descent?” According to ABC News, “The Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre said it was disappointed it had not been consulted before the exhibit went public.”

Remarkably, MONA conceded, and they even apologized! Unfortunately, I have to say this is not surprising. MONA’s cowardly act is symbolic of the lamentable rebirth of identity politics and political correctness in the art world, as well as the recent trend of art museums in eschewing intellectually rigorous and controversial art works in favor of exhibiting commercial entertainment based on a common denominator.

MONA’s founder, David Walsh, citing Büchel’s previous legal battle with Mass MoCA, is ready for a legal battle: “If Christoph fails to approve our action he will have the right to legal process, of course. We know he knows about that. He has been involved in a long legal action concerning the failure of a previous show.”

I don’t know about anyone else, but I certainly am ready for another moral rights battle.

God bless Christoph Büchel.


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Comments: 2

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  • Pam Chestek

    Are you saying that Mass MoCA was a censorship issue? It was a “we don’t have any more money” issue; Buchel was the one who didn’t want it displayed in unfinished form.

  • Pam,
    Thank you for your thoughts. The Mass MoCA debacle was much more than “we don’t have money,” and arguably, not really about that at all. My perspective is that anytime an art institution has the power to establish a working relationship with an artist and they don’t, then they should bear the consequences of the fallout. Mass MoCA could have obtained a written agreement delineating their arrangement. They did not. So, when Mass MoCA uses law to claim ownership of an artists art work and the accompanying rights, and when they argue that they want to exhibit the artist’s work without his permission, it becomes an issue of speech, and of chilling artistic speech because it forces the artist to alter her/his initial intent. As I said above, this could have been avoided by a written agreement.

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