With news of the recent discovery of looted masterpieces hidden in a Munich apartment still fresh in our minds, we thought it would be good to remind everyone of the Lost Art Database. The Lost Art Database was established by the German government to register cultural objects which were relocated, moved or seized during World War II and the Nazi dictatorship. The Database was a response to the Washington Principles established during the Washington Conference on Holocaust-Era Assets (Washington D.C., December 3, 1998. You can read pdf of the program and statements here) that called on governments to identify confiscated art, establish a central registry, facilitate open access to documents that will enable identification of confiscated materials, return confiscated assets to pre-War owners and encourage nations to develop mechanisms for resolving ownership issues. The Database allows users to search for lost assets and register cultural objects known to have been taken illegally.
Posts Tagged ‘censorship’
If you are following the situation surrounding the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, the art blog Hyperallergic: Sensitive to Art & its Discontents is regularly posting updates on his status as it is made known. If you haven’t been tracking the story, here is a quick synopsis: Beijing artist Ai Weiwei was arrested and detained by Chinese police at the Beijing airport on April 3rd. The artist has not been heard from since. His studio was raided and hundreds of objects (notebooks, electronic equipment etc.) have been confiscated; his studio continues to be guarded by the police. His wife Lu Qing and 8 studio assistants were also detained and questioned but have been released. This is not the first time the provocative artist has had run-ins with the Chinese government: in late 2010, Ai’s Shanghai studio was demolished and Ai was one of several liberal intellectuals placed under travel restrictions after Liu Xiabo was awarded the Nobel Prize.
If you want to learn more about Ai Weiwei, take a look at: Ai Weiwei answers visitors questions on Politics and Society at the Tate Gallery, Alison Klayman’s Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, and Ai Weiwei’s TED film.
Battles between organized labor and Republicans are not unexpected these days but last week in Augusta, Maine, the disputes took an unusual turn. Maine’s (Republican) governor Paul LePage has ordered the removal of a three-year-old mural in the Department of Labor building, arguing that the murals, which depict Maine workers in various eras and professions, are not neutral but are in fact pro-union. In a fax to LePage, one anonymous individual argued that the murals were akin to “communist North Korea where they use these murals to brainwash the masses.” Judy Taylor, the painter awarded the contract by the Maine Art Commission, maintains that the murals are “based on historical fact. I’m not sure how you can say history is one-sided.” [New York Times, 3/23/11] One day ago, the U. S. Department of Labor got involved when the department sent a request for reimbursement to LePage. They argued that LePage violated the terms of a federal grant that paid for the bulk of the mural’s contract and that the federal government should be refunded. The murals are currently in storage until a new home can be found. You can read Judy Taylor’s statement here and more on the the mural controversy:
New York Times, March 23, 2011, Portland Press Herald, April 5, 2011, and AP News, April 4, 2011.
Culture Wars: Then and Now, a series of discussions and presentations exploring the issues of freedom of expression and public support of the arts, is now available online. The conference came in response to the recent controversy over the Smithsonian Institution’s “Hide/Seek” exhibition and the resulting congressional threats to remove funding for national arts programs (see our earlier post here). The conference was held March 26, 2011 at the Corcoran Gallery of Art and was sponsored by Transformer, The National Coalition Against Censorship, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, and College of Art + Design. Topics include: “Culture Wars Redux: What did we (what do we) consider offensive?” and “Give Me a Revolution: Artists’ Response to Censorship.”
After harsh criticism from conservative groups and several Republican members of Congress, the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery has removed David Wojnarowicz’s video “A Fire in My Belly” from their exhibition “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture.” Martin Sullivan, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, opted for self-censorship in an attempt to protect the GLBT-themed exhibition but not before another debate over federal funding for the arts was ignited. Eric Cantor, future Majority Leader, has called for closure of “Hide/Seek” because it is “an outrageous use of taxpayer money.” The spokesman for John Boehner, the future House Speaker, stated that “Smithsonian officials should either acknowledge the mistake and correct it, or be prepared to face tough scrutiny beginning in January when the new majority in the House moves [in].” Martin Sullivan has issued a statement on the exhibition and is soliciting public comments. If you want to read more about the controversy, here are a few links to help you get started: TBDArts blog, npr, CultureGrrl blog, Washington Post, CNN.