Friday, February 23, 2007

Art Excluded by Brooklyn Public Library Isn't Hagiographic, It's "Too Large"

We hate to keep harping on this, but the latest explanation by a Brooklyn Public Library official about why some works were excluded from their "Footprints" show deserves attention. Maybe you remember that it was said in Sunday's New York Times that some of the art was excluded because it was "hagiographic"? Not so. The Library's Director of Programs and Exhibitions wrote a letter to the Brooklyn Paper:
The Brooklyn Public Library is not an art museum or a private gallery. Our exhibitions feature art that is accessible to our diverse audience and either documents Brooklyn or is related to books. As a publicly funded institution that serves the entire community, we do not offer platforms for one-sided advocacy on controversial political issues...

Our “Footprints” documentation of a current neighborhood was never intended to be the previous advocacy exhibition that was displayed in Prospect Heights. The works in our exhibition were selected because they are compatible with BPL’s documentary mission and its artistic standards. The few works in the previous show that were not included were either too large, required video installation, failed to meet artistic standards or were political cartoons.
The Library has been consistent in citing its public funding as one reason for the decisions that were made and that it avoided works that were "advocacy." However, the one size offered does not fit all. We're assuming that Sarah Sagarin's portrait of Atlantic Yards activist Daniel Goldstein (seen here) was deemed "too large"? Because it certainly meets our artistic standards and she produces beautiful work. Which brings us to the other point in the letter:
Instead of reading blogs written by artists who exploit the very institution that brings their art to BPL’s diverse audience, I encourage your readers to judge our exhibition with their own eyes.
For the record, we can't draw a stick figure. Also, to follow the information food chain, the story was first reported in The Real Estate, which is not a blog "written by artists." Ah, but now, we're nitpicking.

Related Posts:
GL on the BPL in the NYT
The Art the Brooklyn Public Library Doesn't Want You to See


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I juts wanted to thank you for your great coverage of this issue. Also, for the record, I was told by the library that my painting was too large to be included in the exhibit. You might notice, however if you go see the show, that there are two paintings of approxiamtely the same size that were included. They are hanging on the wall to the left as you walk in.
-Sarah Sagarin

10:28 AM  

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