A few years ago, a rookie curator in San Francisco could put together a political art show, and tilt at windmills on the left, the right, and in between. It was all good fun.
But times have changed.
A few weeks ago, police in Los Angeles shut down an art show in the middle of the opening, on the grounds that it was “offensive and aggressive in nature.” The offending works were culture-jammed corporate logos. Last month, the Secret Service dropped in to investigate an art show in Chicago. The FBI recently seized equipment in New York from a renowned artist collective who produce multimedia work examining the role of technology in modern life. And a portrait by artist Christopher Savido created such a stir at the Chelsea Market, that the market’s managers shut down the 60-piece art show that was scheduled to stay up for the next month.
Even ‘ultra-lib’ San Francisco has not been immune. Last year, a gallery owner shut her doors permanently after receiving death threats following the exhibition of an oil painting depicting torture at Abu Ghraib. Our own Hotel des Arts just received a CEASE + DESIST letter from a global multinational, demanding that we destroy one of the dozens of murals in the art hotel because it featured a corporate logo.
There is definitely a chill in the air when it comes to FREEDOM OF SPEECH + ARTISTIC EXPRESSION.
The show will be sales-free; you can email sample jpegs to john[at]startsoma.com. Full details are here. Check out samples from the 2003 Propaganda show here. And be sure to check out the other great work Start Soma does, especially their gallery of featured artists. Image at top from Start Soma’s Propaganda show.