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Media contact: Mike Blasenstein, firstname.lastname@example.org
‘BANNED’ PAIR TO ERECT GALLERY OF CENSORED ART ON SMITHSONIAN’S DOORSTEP
So-Called ‘Ant Crucifix’ Video Will Be First Exhibit
WASHINGTON, Dec. 8—The two protesters banned from Smithsonian property for playing a video censored by the National Portrait Gallery inside the museum, today announced their intention to obtain permits to erect a temporary structure outside the Gallery that will display all works of art censored by that institution.
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The structure, named for the artist whose work was removed from the Portrait Gallery last Tuesday by Smithsonian officials bowing to pressure from the anti-gay Catholic League and incoming House Speaker John Boehner, will be called the “David Wojnarowicz Memorial Gallery for Censored Art.”
The new gallery’s first exhibit will be the censored video itself, Wojnarowicz’s “A Fire in My Belly.”
“Make no mistake: the goal of groups like the Catholic League and their allies in Congress is to hide ideas they don’t like from the public,” said Mike Blasenstein, one of the pair. “They don’t like how a man dying of AIDS in 1980s America expressed his feelings of isolation and abandonment, so they want to make him invisible—again.”
Said Michael Dax Iacovone, a local artist who was also detained and banned from the Smithsonian: “Our hope is to make this ‘gallery of censored art’ a living protest against invisibility. The Wojnarowicz Gallery will not only keep works censored by our government available to the public, but by being physically present at the National Portrait Gallery itself, it will also serve as a visible rebuke of the Smithsonian’s new policy of censorship.”
He added, “And if more works are removed, they won’t have far to travel to go back on display.”
While no permits or premises have yet been secured for the planned Wojnarowicz Gallery, the pair have been reaching out to—and responding to offers of help from—fellow Americans determined to fight censorship in public museums. “The response from people from around the country has been overwhelming,” said Blasenstein. “We're hoping this will be a positive action for people who support free speech to unite around.”
The David Wojnarowicz Memorial Gallery for Censored Art is planned to be erected as soon as possible, and stand until February 13, 2011, the last day that Wojnarowicz’s work was scheduled to be on display in the National Portrait Gallery's “Hide/Seek” exhibit.
In recognition of their ban from Smithsonian property, the pair hopes to ensure the site will be as close to the National Portrait Gallery as possible without encroaching on Smithsonian-owned land.
“This is one museum we want to be able to visit,” they said.