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Art gallery may back out of Ground Zero

The Drawing Center is a SoHo-based art gallery which in the past has occasionally featured politically controversial art. I blogged about its plans to set up shop at Ground Zero here.

From issue #47 of Drawing Papers, the Drawing Center's exhibit review, here's a detail from A Glimpse of What Life in a Free Country Can Be Like #6 (2004) by Amy Wilson. It depicts the hooded prisoner from the infamous Abu Ghraib photo hooked up to wires spelling "Liberty":

And here's Homeland Security (2004) by Zoë Charlton, showing a jet airplane diving omimously toward a naked woman's spread legs:
It's not necessary to feel works like these should be banned or censored in general (and in fact I don't) to feel that they're simply not appropriate material for Ground Zero.

Now, activist site Take Back The Memorial cites a New York Post article (registration required) reporting that the Center may abandon those plans.

Catherine de Zegher, its Executive Director, says the Drawing Center won't accept any limitations on the kind of art it can display. With New York Governor George Pataki refusing to tolerate the above sort of controversial works at Ground Zero, that means the Drawing Center probably won't remain among the "cultural organizations" slated to be part of it.

The Post notes, however, that the International Freedom Center is still pushing ahead with plans to build a Freedom Center on the site. That suggests that either it's prepared to accept Pataki's conditions, or it's dismissing them as empty political grandstanding. Unfortunately, I suspect the latter is the case.

What Pataki actually said, back in June, in response to a Daily News editorial about the Drawing Center, was the following:
We will not tolerate anything on that site that denigrates America, denigrates New York or freedom, or denigrates the sacrifice or courage that the heroes showed on Sept. 11.
The IFC may simply take the position that its Freedom Center would do none of those things. That's why it's important for Pataki to make clear that the issue is not simply the potential denigration of America, but the politicization of the space around a somber memorial.




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