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Suffering for Art

An e-mail from a friendly reader at Zeke's Gallery up in Montréal (one of my favorite cities on the planet) drew my attention to the story of Capobianco Gallery in San Francisco. The gallery showed a painting (The Abuse) by Guy Colwell, a cartoonish reinterpretation of the photographs of Iraqi prisoners being tortured, in its front window. The gallery owner was horrified by the public response in what I always thought was a citadel of liberal political thought: her business was egged, garbage was piled at the entrance, she was threatened, verbally abused, and ultimately beaten up, even after moving the offending work from the front window, and now she has had to shut down her gallery. Can this really be happening in the United States?

It's hard to be right all the time, but I remind you, gentle reader, of Don DeLillo's September 11, 2003, interview in L'Express, which I translated here on Ionarts. One of DeLillo's main points was about how writers and artists face a reactionary backlash if they make any criticism of the American government. If you didn't already, you may now see the point behind DeLillo's remarks. In case this one incident does not convince you, The Progressive is amassing a list of other examples in its McCarthyism Watch. Stories related to the arts include the Capobianco story, a high school student who was turned into the Secret Service for creating anti-Bush drawings, political cartoonist Ted Rall who was banned from the New York Times Web site, an English professor who lost her job by opposing the Iraq war, and a police officer who broke into a high school classroom in the middle of the night to take photographs of students' political art.

Please keep in mind that this post is not an endorsement of any political view (see the Ionarts motto in the upper-right corner). This is one American citizen who is not happy that, because of the present climate, such things are happening in our country.

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