This exhibition will run throughout the summer of 2011
The exhibition was prompted by the recent removal of a 1987 David Wojnarowicz film from an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, in Washington, D.C., the latest of a series of controversies involving the public display of “unsettling” photographic works. In December 2010, members of Congress, spurred by conservative activists, objected to the film's imagery of ants crawling over a crucifix, and museum officials quickly decided to take the film off view. That action and the resulting public outcry were reminiscent of the culture wars of the 1980s, when politicians and religious leaders frequently denounced art they found offensive, and called for the elimination of public arts funding.I strongly commend the Philadelphia Museum of Art for its courage in the face of national political pressures on the arts to censor worthy art because some people don't agree with its message. Whether we agree with the art's message in this and other exhibitions, all points of view deserve to be seen and heard. That is a fundamental principle on which the United States was founded. It's a shame so many in this country have forgotten what the United States really stands for, what so many men and women have fought and died to preserve, and instead seek to weaken the country's greatness by attempting to mold it within their own shortsighted, narrow-minded point of view.
Unsettled: Photography and Politics in Contemporary Art presents work by nine artists who used photography to address some of the most controversial political and social issues of the late 1970s through the early 1990s, including feminism, racism, the AIDS crisis, and gay activism. Looking at a diverse range of pictorial strategies, and at works that are by turns confrontational and contemplative, Unsettled examines the historical reasons why many artists made provocative photo-based works in the 1980s, and invites viewers to consider why some of this art still causes controversy, twenty or thirty years after it was made.As I travel, I love seeing the work of other photographers as I hope you do. If you know of a new photographic exhibition which you think the Blog should publicize, please contact me.