Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Blu Buffed

Italian street artist Blu was recently invited by Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary art (MOCA) director Jeffrey Deitch to contribute an outdoor mural to the museum’s upcoming “Art in the Street” show. The artist flew to Los Angeles in early December to paint the mural, an anti-war statement depicting rows of coffins draped in dollar bills. He was nearly done when the director, seeing the mural for the first time, ordered its immediate removal. The museum issued a statement explaining that the decision was prompted by concern that the mural’s imagery could offend the museum’s neighbors, a war veteran’s hospital and a memorial to Japanese American soldiers.

An incensed Blu blasted the decision on his blog, indicating that he would not accept the museum’s invitation to paint a new mural over the erased one. He commented on the debate raging online as to whether the decision was "censorship" or a "curatorial choice." "In fact," he wrote, "it is a curatorial choice that involves the censorship of a mural."

The cultural watchdogs at Just Seeds wrote: "Blu’s impressive mural at MOCA deviated little from the majority of his work that critiques war and capital. His image presented war as a ruthless business enterprise where young men and women are sent off to battle (and sent home in coffins) while corporations reap massive rewards...Apparently, Jeffrey Deitch missed the memo that censoring anti-war images of coffins is something that democratic societies do not take kindly to."

More on the mural, and the controversy, in a million places. Including here, here and here.

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