Last week, the entire MFA thesis show of Brooklyn College was shut down by the City of New York due to a few complaints from the audience regarding sexual content in *some* of the art work. Mind you, the Brooklyn College is run by the City of New York.
…The student show, mounted as a graduation requirement for the Master of Fine Arts Degree at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, apparently received complaints for explicit subject matter from one or more visitors to the May 3 opening, and was ordered immediately shut down by the Brooklyn Borough Parks Commissioner, Julius Spiegel. This came as a surprise to the students who have been working under the direction of Brooklyn College faculty in a program administered by the City of New York. The exhibition was even attended by the President and Provost of Brooklyn College, who reported that they enjoyed the show.
Later, they find out that the alleged complaints regarding explicit subject matter came from the park commissioner (art critic by night?), Julius Spiegel himself.
Students who put thousands of hours and all of their energy and creativity into this show, which is a requirement for their graduation, were, and deservingly so, infuriated. They protested, rallied, sent letters of complaints, petitions, etc. Some of the art were site-specific installation created for the gallery and would have to be destroyed to get it out. Someone’s pet rat was locked in the exhibit without food for a few days. However, instead of fighting the shut down and standing up for their students, the Brooklyn College decided to just move the show without the artists’ permission and without telling the artists. The students are now filing law suits.
For more in-depth coverage and update, http://plancensored.blogspot.com/
Having done a master thesis show myself, I think I would have gone bezerk for something like this to have happened. Imagine after two years of intensive study, thousands of hours and so much money spent on what is to be your proud achievement to show for your educational career gets shut down then dismantled by some park workers without you knowing. The thought alone makes me shiver.
But then again, history usually repeats itself, and what is the most avant-garde art to us now have all stired some type of controversy. Either this class is a bunch of really good artists, or that the parks commissioner is such a tightwad conservative.