March 30, 2008 · Print This Article
San Francisco Art Institute has canceled closed the controversial Abdessemed exhibition as well as the public forum. The exhibition was curated by Hou Hanru, who was interviewed by us in Episode 129.
From the SFAI Website:
In response to a series of violent threats by animal-rights extremists, the San Francisco Art Institute announced today that the public discussion on Adel Abdessemedâ€™s exhibition Donâ€™t Trust Me, scheduled for Monday, 31 March, has been canceled. For the same reasons, the exhibition itself, which was temporarily suspended on Wednesday, 26 March, has now been permanently closed.
â€œWe unconditionally repudiate these threats against SFAI,â€ stated President Chris Bratton: â€œMy first concern is with the safety and security of SFAIâ€™s students, faculty, staff, and their families, as well as members of the public that regularly visit the campus. In light of the violent threats by extremists against this institution, we are unfortunately forced to cancel any public discussion or display regarding this artwork.â€
Soon after it opened, the Abdessemed exhibition became the subject of an orchestrated campaign by a number of animal-rights groups, including Animal Liberation Front (ALF), In Defense of Animals (IDA), and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). One result of this campaign was a parallel onslaught of explicit death threats and threats of sexual violence against SFAI staff members and their families. The swift escalation from controversy to credible threats has regrettably forced SFAI to make a decision unprecedented in its 137-year history.
â€œThough weâ€™ve decided to take this action,â€ continued President Bratton, â€œSFAI stands behind the exhibition as an instance of a long-standing and serious commitment, on SFAIâ€™s part, to reflection on, and free and open discussion of, contemporary global art and culture. As an institution, we take seriously our responsibility to encourage and promote such dialogue.â€
â€œThe artist,â€ continued President Bratton, â€œparticipated in an already-existing circuit of food production in a rural community in Mexico. The animals were raised for food, purchased, and professionally slaughtered. In fact, what causes the controversy is that Abdessemed, an artist, entered this exchange, filmed it, and exhibited it.â€
â€œHere, then, is a case where highly local assumptions about how things are produced have come to inform how the world itself is seen. In general, consumption in the US is fueled by things produced out of sight and from far away. In many cultures, particularly those of the global south including Mexico, the killing of animals for food is often direct and present, not concealed from sight as is the case of industrialized food production here. This distinction is certainly relevant to Donâ€™t Trust Me. Admittedly, this is an uncomfortable confrontation for some, but is nevertheless a real condition not only for animals, but also for the people whose lives are bound up with them. Simply stated, it is an outrage that threats of violence have, in this case, succeeded in derailing a public debate on issues that are critical to our everyday lives.â€
The press release can be found here.
This Thursday, Duncan and Brian spoke about Bad At Sports at the College Art Association 2008 Annual Conference in lovely Dallas, TX. The panel was titled â€œartblogging == global.exibit(local)â€ and was a part of the New Media Caucus at the Dallas Contemporary. The intrepid BAS representatives overcame a lack of audio support (important for a podcast…) and anchored the panel with an in depth look at how BAS positions itself as a tool for artists in the contemporary art world.
A supporting blog for the panel can be found at artblogging.org.
For two days in December, Los Angeles residents were blessed with some of the best public art I’ve seen in quite a while.
A billboard for Takahasi Murakami’s retrospective was bombed by legendary writers AUGER/REVOK.
LA weekly is now reporting that the missing work didn’t get censored, but was actually was picked up by Murakami himself for his KaiKai KiKi studio. Link to LA Weekly Article.
Brian and Marc recently collaborated on a review of Tony Lebat’s Bulk at Queens Nails Annex for Shotgun Review. Here’s an excerpt:
“Tony Labat’s exhibition Bulk opened to throngs of art students, smoking and drinking on the sidewalk. At first, the event seemed like any other gallery reception. However, as a show focusing on the manifestation of social relations in an art event, the students hadn’t come to see anything in particular, but to rather simply be with one another. With the gallery’s main space converted to a bar, complete with amateur bartenders, swill cocktails at criminal prices, and makeshift wooden tables; Bulk turned Queens Nails Annex into a speakeasy, one built like a cheap theatrical set.
… Bulk’s events have drawn together those who share in a common perspective – art students, gallerists, curators, etc.- participating in their prescribed roles of social exchange and power dynamics, as if the events had a written script. The exhibition doesn’t challenge itself to compose the audience, who provide its labor, or translate their efforts into meaning. Any examination into the relationship between the mechanics of audience as a means of production, and how it conditions the possibilities of interpretation, is absent. Without intervention, the events emerged as expected; codified and rigid. Creating work that fosters social relations shouldn’t reduce an event to the calling together of a coterie, turning the artist into a socialite of aesthetics whose practice would be a chain of well-hosted shin-digs. Bulk is emblematic of this festivalist, lackadaisical attitude that’s far too common in contemporary art.”
In NYC, a filmmaker/games designer committed suicide last week. Her companion, a well-known contemporary abstract artist, has gone missing for 8 days and is presumed dead:
The filmmaker, Theresa Duncan, 40, who has also drawn attention for her writings on cultural topics, committed suicide in their East Village apartment on July 10, the police said. Her companion, Jeremy Blake, 35, a well-regarded artist known for digital animation that blurs the line between abstract painting and film, has been missing since his clothes were found on a beach in the Rockaways on Tuesday evening, they added.
Link to NYT story. Here’s a related item on Gothamist. Modern Art Notes has more, including word that the Corcoran will go forward with a planned exhibition of Blake’s work. Above: still from Jeremy Blake’s 14-minute DVD art piece “Sodium Fox,” 2005. Link to Theresa Duncan’s blog. (thanks, Coop, and Circuit Master)