Tag Archives: Stanford

Art Censorship Issues: Palo Alto Event Tomorrow (1/12/11)

Debbie says:

Marlene is under the weather, which is why I’m the one recommending that Bay Area folks go to

Art Censorship Issues: a Screening of Wojnarowicz’ “Fire in My Belly” and Panel Discussion

Wednesday, January 12, 2011 · 5:00pm – 8:00pm
Annenberg Auditorium – Stanford University, 435 Lasuen Mall, Stanford, CA 94305

In response to the recent censorship of the exhibition “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture” at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC, Stanford University’s Department of Art and Art History and SICA invites you to a special screening of the censored film “Fire in My Belly” by David Wojnarowicz and a panel discussion on art censorship with faculty members, students and cultural leaders from the Bay Area. Regular readers may remember Marlene’s discussion of this situation here.

Moderated by Nancy Troy, Chair, Art & Art History Department

Enrique Chagoya, Professor, Art Practice
Sarah Curran, Arts Programmer, SiCa
Julia Haas, Co-founder, hideseek.org
Petra Dierkes-Thrun, Visiting Assistant Professor, Comparative Literature
M. Renee Huff, Esq, ITL Law, PC
Dorian Katz, MFA Candidate, Art Practice
Larry Rinder, Director, Berkeley Art Museum
Matthew Tiews, Executive Director of Arts Program, SiCa

hideseek.org (used to list) screenings of the film across the globe and has links to relevant articles.

This should be a really amazing event. Laurie and Marlene will be there, and I’m going to try to get there too.

Words are Powerful

Laurie says:

Deb and I consider the essays and texts that accompany my photos to be vital to our work. We spend lots of time doing outreach, lectures, workshops etc., and working with the communities of people who are photographed in order to get the right texts. We listen a lot. We never have an exhibition without texts. So when I saw this story on Muzzlewatch, the Jewish Voice for Peace news blog, I was really struck by it.

“After only 2 days, in response to complaints (which have not been made public), Stanford University removed photographs on April 9 by Lisa Nessan, a young Jewish photographer and peace activist who has spent a great deal of time in Israel and the Palestinian Occupied Territories…”

And then a day later

“Actually, it was the captions and the title of the photo exhibit. The Stanford administration approved photos of Palestinians taken by photographer Lisa Nessan for an exhibit called “Hope Under Siege.” But when the sponsoring student group, Students Confronting Apartheid by Israel (SCAI), changed the title to “Life Under Israeli Apartheid” and others on campus complained, the administration pulled down the exhibit after just two days. Students say the captions all include information from human rights groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

Nonetheless, Stanford offered to reinstate the entire show without the title or captions. Student organizers wisely said NO, and held a protest instead. The campus group Students Confronting Apartheid by Israel (SCAI) writes that it was “part of their “Women Under Fire” series that highlighted Jewish resistance to Israeli apartheid.”

Four of the photos without the original captions are on Flickr.

People always say that “a picture is worth a thousand words,” but sometimes words are powerful. All too often without context photographs that have strong social change aspects become depoliticized art that can be appreciated only aesthetically.

When we worked on publishing Women en Large, we turned down publication offers from two otherwise excellent feminist presses because they would only publish it if we pulled the text. We were told it was “too polemic”.

I’ve been told numerous times by people who saw Women En Large in galleries that without the text they wouldn’t have appreciated the social change meaning of the work. Words are powerful.

I really respect SCAI’s decision not to allow the exhibition with the captions censored.

Thanks to Jean Pauline from Bay Area Women in Black for sending me this.