Letters to the Editor

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TAM: Art is free speech made visible

Letter by Jacquelyn E. Giles, University Place on June 7, 2011 at 4:39 pm with 5 Comments »
June 8, 2011 9:47 am

Re: “Purge exhibit of offensive content” (letter, 6-7).

The Tacoma Art Museum might consider increased emphasis in docent training on the nature of art since two former docents have publicly exhorted them to censor the contents of an exhibition they have not seen simply because it was found “offensive by many of our congressional leaders when it was shown in D.C.”

I don’t remember voting for a Congressional Art Police Force, do you?

The ex-docents presume the “wishes of the membership and the predominant views of the community” coincide with their own and equate TAM’s planned showing of “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture” with entering “this most sensitive debate as a clear sympathizer for gay and lesbian ascendancy.”

Ascendancy from and to what? From second-class citizenship to equal treatment under the law? Next thing you know, they’ll be on city and county councils and in Congress! Oh, wait . . .

No artist polls the public before creating a statement in paint, marble or glass, nor should museums do so before displaying new or controversial art. Throughout history despots have denounced,suppressed and confiscated art they deemed “subversive” or “offensive to religion,” but art has consistently outlived tyrants and their censors.

Art is free speech made visible. Those who don’t want to “listen” should stay home and allow others to form their own opinions after “hearing” the message.

Leave a comment Comments → 5
  1. Excellent!

  2. LarryFine says:

    Burning the Koran is free speech… no?

    I have no problem with art or free speech. Hypocrisy on the other hand…

  3. Yes, it is. Nobody in their right mind said otherwise. What I mostly heard was it was stupid.
    The main argument against the burning was based on the crazie’s motivation, that all muslims are evil. Obviously, false. It’s also referred to as bigotry and hate; and the message was likewise, and very clear at that. The TAM future exhibit is not that clear message of blanket hate and bigotry. Even if it was, there is no basis for withdrawing it.
    Form also matters. Creative expression always beats book burning as free speech.

  4. LF – burning the Koran wasn’t meant as art, it was meant to incite violence. The video in question was created by an artist and meant to be an artistic expression.

    Your claim of hypocrisy only goes as far as your willingness to compare apples and oranges and declare that they are both bananas.

  5. grunthos says:

    Docent
    Definition of DOCENT. 1. : a college or university teacher or lecturer. 2. : a person who leads guided tours especially through a museum or art gallery …
    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/docent

    Definition addendum per suggestions of J.E. Giles

    Docents are required to publicly welcome, appreciate and embrace any and all objects, displays, words, sounds and ephemera that are presented as art, and that promote societal acceptance, admiration and personal adoption of the full rainbow of sexual identities, activities and political activism.

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