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“There is a nude man in the window”

Controversy Meets CAC and Chicago Loop Alliance at Pop-Up Gallery in the Loop

Step 1: The Reader article is here: http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/this-guys-penis-is-a-work-of-art/Content?oid=1981925. Read that.

Step 2:  Come back here when you’re done, if you’d like.  We’ll let The Reader own this one since they’ve got a nice flame war coolking along.

However, one comment I think is worth re-posting is Dawoud Bey’s, one of our most prestigious artists. As at the time of this uploading, there are already 35 comments and good comments get lost in the shuffle.

“This article as written and the exhibition itself is yet another example of how some artists insist on acting as if they live in a separate social universe from the rest of the community. The infamous “Culture Wars” of the 1980s stemmed from right wing politicians exploiting this same tendency to think that we as artist can foist whatever we want on a willing or unwilling public and that it should be supported simply because we are artists. We all paid a very heavy price for this boneheadedness and unwillingness to (in highly public places anyway) to engage in an enlightened and challenging art practice that didn’t consciously and provocatively bait the public. Attempting to do this with public funds is no less potentially–and obviously–no less a provocation than displaying full frontal photographs in a highly trafficked public space.

The Pop-Up galleries provide a unique opportunity for artists to get their work in front of a large public. Along with that opportunity should come some consideration of how to most effectively engage that public, some of whom might not be regular art viewers. There is a very wide range of possibilities that could be explored before reaching the conclusion that full frontal art is the best use of this kind of opportunity. To feign surprise at the response that followed and the closing of the show is to demonstrate a profound degree of stupidity and insensitivity, not to mention a lack of clear and strategic thinking. Deanna Issac’s suggestion that only “abstract art” will be found suitable for these spaces in the future is equally specious, since there is so much work that fits the bill for both serving the needs of artists and the public without completely lowering the aesthetic bar. The kind of work done by Joseph Ravens certainly has a long history and, in a different context, would be fine. It is extremely injudicious to attempt to show that kind of work in this particular context. I don’t think Bruce Lord should have to worry about finding himself in a potential indecency lawsuit because he decided to provide an opportunity to a group of underserved artists.”

Dawoud Bey

So outside of that, we’re just going to stick with re-blogging on this one, let the comments stay on The Reader, and kudos to Deanna for being on the ball and providing the scoop.

The only comment I’ll add, to piggyback on Dawoud’s, is that the getting-sued-thing is real. It does bankrupt organizations. When it comes to extreme-public venues (meaning the business district’s non-art crowd) I think, for the sake of sanity, it’s OK to lay some ground rules about controvercy being kept to a minimum.

Should it be that way? No. But as long as a lawsuit can put you under, that’s the way it’s going to be.

Comments on this issue should be posted at: http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/this-guys-penis-is-a-work-of-art/Content?oid=1981925