Saturday, February 10, 2007

The Art the Brooklyn Public Library Doesn't Want You to See

The censors officials at the Brooklyn Public Library have decided that some art from the Footprints show can't be shown at the library. Is it gay-themed art or something overtly sexual? Nah. Just a depiction of Atlantic Yards as a toilet bowl, a portrait of Develop Don't Destroy's Daniel Goldstein and that sort of thing. The Library issued a bizarre statement explaining that they're publicly-funded when The Real Estate asked them about the censorship the choice they made to exlude six works. That's Donald O'Finn's censored excluded work to the right. (Horrifying, isn't it? Are those turds floating in the crapper?) You can see the portrait of Daniel Goldstein that that Library won't show here and one of Amy Greer's photos here. (You can see DDDB's statement here.)

Censorship, particularly crass and brainless politically-motivated censorship, is one of our hot button issues. We could even vaguely understand if they were keeping something awful and offensive from their walls, but they're not exactly trying to spare the people of Brooklyn a depiction of the Virgin Mary surrounded by little vaginas and dung. No, this is self-interest and stupidity of the highest order. The Library, in its statement to The Real Estate, even vaguely tries to blame local gallery owners and artists for participating in the decision as part of a "selection committee."

In deciding to ban these works, the Brooklyn Public Library is behaving like a little village library in 1980s Transylvania refusing to show a portrait of Nicolae Ceausescu wearing one of those funny noses with eyeglasses and mustache. Actually, we're overstating the case--the backwoods Transylvanian Communist censors would have had a better excuse, either because they were true believers or because they were afraid of being dragged out into the forest by the Secret Police and shot for mocking Ceausescu. The people at the Brooklyn Public Library, on the other hand, are said to not want to offend Bruce Ratner as they are trying to suck up to him do some fundingraising development work so that he'll bankroll their floundering BAM Cultural District project. (Perhaps as a follow-up they can block internet access to DDDB and other websites that are deeply critical of Atlantic Yards. It could be worth an extra four or five hundred G's, minimum.)

Guess this means the "Free Speech Zone" installation the library hosted in 2004 was only an abstract idea? Well, yes, actually. The BPL has had some censorship issues with actual books in the past. For instance, this case, which made waves in September.

You can say we're overreacting or that our knee just jerked up, but our opinion of the BPL has fallen because of this. On the positive side, we haven't had a case of Brooklyn art censorship to mock and rant about in a while, and we haven't been able to invoke Nicolae Ceausescu in a blog post before and truly miss writing columns about police state East Bloc countries, so in that sense the library has our gratitude.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those aren't turds.

They're skyboxes.

12:13 PM  
Blogger Nets Fan said...

"Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter. The sitter is merely the accident, the occasion. It is not he who is revealed by the painter; it is rather the painter who, on the coloured canvas, reveals himself."

Miss Brooklyn portrayed as a toilet. How original... what does this say about the artist?

9:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

actually, it is quite original, and its the arena portrayed as the toilet bowl of corporatism run amok. not only is it quite original, its a fantastic piece of art. go check it out at Freddy's. by the way, didn't hear from you when your buddy bruce portrayed prospect heights as a toilet bowl. oh right, he said "blight" which is oooooh so original.

what it says about the artist, and I'm not the artist, is that he has a keen eye and understands what opiate of the masses means, in this case its the big dump that satisfies the masses.

and your beautiful quote is not apt. the art work in question is neither a painting nor portrait. Wilde didn't say this about landscapes buddy.

12:30 PM  
Blogger Nets Fan said...

First of all, art is subjective. I’m definitely one for freedom of expression, but I personally don’t find this piece particularly original. The portrayal of a toilet bowl to represent an artist’s disgust has been done a million times in political cartoons.

The railroad terminal and the surrounding area are “blighted,” and this development plan aims to eliminate it.

Beautiful? This quote merely demonstrates Wilde’s love of parody.

You’re claiming this to be landscape art? It’s a political cartoon and personification is frequently employed in media headlines and cartoons as a vehicle to express a critical point. This is the artist’s portrait of “Miss Brooklyn.”

11:51 PM  

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