Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Blu in Los Angeles

The LA Museum of Contemporary Art recently asked Italian artist Blu to paint a mural on its exterior walls. The partnership made sense given MOCA's stated interest in contemporary artists and Blu's widely popular graffiti aesthetic as a painter and videographer. And how timely! The mural would be in place in time for MOCA's exhibition of street art scheduled to open in April.

Go, Blu! He worked diligently on the mural as the museum's leaders were attending an international art event in Miami, and was nearly done by the time they returned. But therein was a problem - they returned. With only a few days left before Blu could finish loading the walls up with images of coffin-hugging dollar bills, MOCA Director Jeffrey Deitch handed him a cease-and-desist order. A few days later, what had been shaping up as a potent anti-war statement was whitewashed out of existence. Unfortunately for the museum, the whitewashing has left it apparently veiled in gentle sheets of toilet paper (see below).

In the wake of this, people are debating whether the museum is guilty of censorship. It's an interesting discussion...I suppose...for those who have a distaste for evidence. There's a broader, more interesting question to be asked, one that kicks at the shins of art as a commodity. Would any museum present contemporary art (particularly street art) if the museum couldn't blunt its political power with contextualizing placards and docent tours? This was asked by quite a few people in Boston during last year's ICA mega-exhibition of work by street artist Shepard Fairey.

Read what Fairey, on whose coaster your coffee mug might now be resting, has to say about the incident in the December 14 edition of the LA Times. Better yet, for a worthwhile read, bookmark Blu's blog and read it every once in a while. Also, watch the short video Muto for an example of his work. Quite amazing is he.

1 comment:

  1. Through faithful activist in our community who remain steadfast and are committed to sharing the true signs of Dissent of the times, The Phantom Street Artist and his collective of Street Graffiti Artists digitally tagged the walls of the MOCA in solidarity and in opposition to the Censorship of Blu's Mural by the Museum Director Jeffrey Deitch..

    Our collective of Graffiti Street Artist and Art Saves Lives Activist have generated great commentary for our protest intervention at MOCA... We as the silent majority adamantly defend the expression of the Italian Street Artist BLU who was foolishly censored by Director Jeffrey Deitch.

    The Phantom's collective of street artist protest was covered in diverse media publications featured by Debra Vankin the reporter of the LA Times and many online blogs!

    The Phantom Street Artist was just critically reviewed in Sunday's LA Times for TASCHEN's latest international book release..Trespasses!!

    Most recently the Phantom Street Artist remains outspoken via his self published critical essay and thoughts on his Facebook page titled the" The ABC Abuse of Power comes as No $urprise"

    It comes as no surprise when explicit censorship can be carried out and named by Politicians in the interest of defending National Security all the while denying our inherent rights to the freedom of information act. Earlier this week it is the Smithsonian Secretary G. Wayne Clough who ordered the removal of a short video-excerpt from a critically acclaimed exhibition in Washington DC by the deceased Artist David Wojnarowicz. Today it is the local Los Angeles Museum Director Jeffrey Deitch who objects by nonchalantly choosing to whitewash BLU’s walls in fear of embarrassing the public policy of MOCA for its next Graffiti Exhibit in 2011. These factions and their cohorts present the age old argument that any release of information and or expression will lead to threats of national security or cultural, economical and political loss in place of discursive knowledge and expression.

    MOCA prides itself as an international progressive institution which allows for freedom of expression and thought. Before we understood How to Say and Mean... Deitch’s censorship has chosen to exclude certain topics and language from the value of our community expression.

    Finally, these acts of censorship by those who rule and are seated in cultural and political power are only defending themselves and their gratuitous hegemonic groups. By not allowing such a harmless cultural discourse they have ignorantly undermined themselves and their institution. Such actions by a provincial Director tells us, through his actions, that the Museum's next premiere Street Artist Graffiti exhibit will have to be safe as its criteria in its applied decor.

    So let’s remember never to forget that in the future we will all need to meet the complacent and censored criteria of its Museum Director in masquerading as Street Artists for the Next MOCA sponsored Graffiti Exhibit.

    Where’s my Shoe and my Can of Spray Paint?

    Phantom Street Artist

    Questioning Our Kulture in Question...

    The Phantom Street Artist interest is to invite you to share in our collective voice of dissent which questions our kulture in question in staging future progressive and compelling protest forms and critical languages for our times!