Re: Re: Re: Arts Intolerance: Emily Jacir/Ulrich Museum

Posted by Deborah Gordon | Thu Dec 16th 2004 12:05 a.m.

I have been reading this conversation about Emily Jacir's exhibit at the Ulrich Museum, because I am here at the university but am not an artist. The person who said this has been handled in a very underhanded way is correct, but this is largely a result of the university "foundation," another term for the fund-raising body that oversees the art museum. The museum runs on private donations, rather than gets state funds. It is not housed under "Academic Affairs," which is where the faculty are located. What has happened here is that a major donor to the university threatened to withdraw a donation she pledged. She is the lead donor in a major building project, having pledged $1.5 million to the university. Keeping this donor from withdrawing funds, not any educational interests in representing multiple viewpoints is where all of the "pressure" from the Mid-Kansas Jewish Federation came from. I think the university "consulted" with them as a way of placating the donor.

What has happened is that the head of the university fund-raising body has imposed this on the Museum Director and curator. They are furious, but the foundation controls the purse strings of the Museum and the idiot who runs it has made this decision.

Emily is understandably concerned; those of us who know about it are as well. I can see why she would not want to show when outside the gallery will be "literature," that does interfere with the exhibit.

On the other hand, there is nothing to stop those of us who go to the Museum from writing across any "sign" or "poster" this group wants to put up.

I see this very much from an educator's point of view in that I think if one group gets to put out some materials, other groups should be able to do the same. I tend to have subversive ideas about space, so I would want to fill the space outside the gallery with all kinds of speech, including speech that talks about attacks on art museums, censorship, etc. and not just different views on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

I know this places a special burden on her exhibit that does not happen to other artists, and it is discriminatory. I just want the exhibit to be here so others can see it. These people in the Mid-Kansas Jewish Federation have acted like assholes from start to finish.

Emily sees it differently, which no doubt reflects notions of artistic expression and exhibit conventions that do not touch me, since I'm not an artist. The exhibit space for her, including outside the gallery where her exhibit will be shown, should be kept pure. She told me she didn't want it to turn into a "Middle East info. center," and I don't blame her. I just hope the exhibit comes and that she comes and talks about her work. It will be a great opportunity for many people to see her work who would not have the opportunity otherwise.

judsoN wrote:

> from rob
> >As for keeping quiet if you get ripped off, I doubt you'd do that if
> >your new PC died two weeks after buying it. ;-)
>
> hahaha. i would never buy a pc because getting ripped off is just
> what i'd be asking for. who cares what's morally right about it, you
> deal with the situation you're in. but this example is really
> doesn't apply since they aren't doing any physical damage to the
> work. some galleries are going to get pressure differently.
>
> >>you've been handed pamphlets from protesters. do you read them?
> >>you just think "look a bunch of protesters in the lobby. i came to
> >>look at the pretty colors. am i going to be able to get through
> >>without being hassled?"
> >
> >It's the artistic equivalent of push polling:
> >
> >"Would it affect your view of this art if you knew that the artist
> >was supporting terrorists and murderers?
>
> she can take it as getting more attention, more press. (perhaps
> that's all this really is)
>
> the folks who shlep to the gallery want to see the art, not the
> pamphleteers. everything they do in life will effect how they see
> the work.
>
> >Protest is very important. Obviously it's a matter of freedom of
> >expression. But so is the show. And the show does not get to answer
> >this pre-emptive strike on its integrity.
>
> freedom of expression. so, who cares what the protesters say? let
> em scream. the artist found a forum and nobody's keeping it from
> her. if she doesn't like it, she can try another.
>
> it's a totally non-issue. it's really only an issue that anyone
> could possibly construe this as an issue.
>
> from joy
> >In any case, the artist was kept out of the process.
>
> that's life! at least the person who decided, must have felt the
> artists opinion is of no relevance in this situation. which is
> perfectly valid. in fact, what they do with their lobby is their
> business, not hers. they don't have to approve every work a visitor
> may see on the way to hers. why should the artists have the
> slightest feeling their opinion about what happens in galleries has
> any importance whatsoever.
>
> it's just a deal, they borrow the piece for a particular duration and
> give it back unharmed. it'd be totally prima donna obnoxious to
> insist on any aspect of how to present it, though out of convenience
> often curators will try to make accommodations. Artists often seem
> to think just cause they can talk, people automatically listen.
>
  • joy garnett | Thu Dec 16th 2004 8:24 a.m.
    hi Deborah,

    Thanks for posting this, from the inside as it were. We all blow off so
    much personal steam on this list, going off on crazy tangents at times.
    Your info is very useful and puts things right in perspective.

    - Joy

    On Wed, 15 Dec 2004, Deborah Gordon wrote:

    > I have been reading this conversation about Emily Jacir's exhibit at the Ulrich Museum, because I am here at the university but am not an artist. The person who said this has been handled in a very underhanded way is correct, but this is largely a result of the university "foundation," another term for the fund-raising body that oversees the art museum. The museum runs on private donations, rather than gets state funds. It is not housed under "Academic Affairs," which is where the faculty are located. What has happened here is that a major donor to the university threatened to withdraw a donation she pledged. She is the lead donor in a major building project, having pledged $1.5 million to the university. Keeping this donor from withdrawing funds, not any educational interests in representing multiple viewpoints is where all of the "pressure" from the Mid-Kansas Jewish Federation came from. I think the university "consulted" with them as a way of placating the donor.
    >
    > What has happened is that the head of the university fund-raising body has imposed this on the Museum Director and curator. They are furious, but the foundation controls the purse strings of the Museum and the idiot who runs it has made this decision.
    >
    > Emily is understandably concerned; those of us who know about it are as well. I can see why she would not want to show when outside the gallery will be "literature," that does interfere with the exhibit.
    >
    > On the other hand, there is nothing to stop those of us who go to the Museum from writing across any "sign" or "poster" this group wants to put up.
    >
    > I see this very much from an educator's point of view in that I think if one group gets to put out some materials, other groups should be able to do the same. I tend to have subversive ideas about space, so I would want to fill the space outside the gallery with all kinds of speech, including speech that talks about attacks on art museums, censorship, etc. and not just different views on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
    >
    > I know this places a special burden on her exhibit that does not happen to other artists, and it is discriminatory. I just want the exhibit to be here so others can see it. These people in the Mid-Kansas Jewish Federation have acted like assholes from start to finish.
    >
    > Emily sees it differently, which no doubt reflects notions of artistic expression and exhibit conventions that do not touch me, since I'm not an artist. The exhibit space for her, including outside the gallery where her exhibit will be shown, should be kept pure. She told me she didn't want it to turn into a "Middle East info. center," and I don't blame her. I just hope the exhibit comes and that she comes and talks about her work. It will be a great opportunity for many people to see her work who would not have the opportunity otherwise.
    >
    >
    >
    > judsoN wrote:
    >
    >> from rob
    >>> As for keeping quiet if you get ripped off, I doubt you'd do that if
    >>> your new PC died two weeks after buying it. ;-)
    >>
    >> hahaha. i would never buy a pc because getting ripped off is just
    >> what i'd be asking for. who cares what's morally right about it, you
    >> deal with the situation you're in. but this example is really
    >> doesn't apply since they aren't doing any physical damage to the
    >> work. some galleries are going to get pressure differently.
    >>
    >>>> you've been handed pamphlets from protesters. do you read them?
    >>>> you just think "look a bunch of protesters in the lobby. i came to
    >>>> look at the pretty colors. am i going to be able to get through
    >>>> without being hassled?"
    >>>
    >>> It's the artistic equivalent of push polling:
    >>>
    >>> "Would it affect your view of this art if you knew that the artist
    >>> was supporting terrorists and murderers?
    >>
    >> she can take it as getting more attention, more press. (perhaps
    >> that's all this really is)
    >>
    >> the folks who shlep to the gallery want to see the art, not the
    >> pamphleteers. everything they do in life will effect how they see
    >> the work.
    >>
    >>> Protest is very important. Obviously it's a matter of freedom of
    >>> expression. But so is the show. And the show does not get to answer
    >>> this pre-emptive strike on its integrity.
    >>
    >> freedom of expression. so, who cares what the protesters say? let
    >> em scream. the artist found a forum and nobody's keeping it from
    >> her. if she doesn't like it, she can try another.
    >>
    >> it's a totally non-issue. it's really only an issue that anyone
    >> could possibly construe this as an issue.
    >>
    >> from joy
    >>> In any case, the artist was kept out of the process.
    >>
    >> that's life! at least the person who decided, must have felt the
    >> artists opinion is of no relevance in this situation. which is
    >> perfectly valid. in fact, what they do with their lobby is their
    >> business, not hers. they don't have to approve every work a visitor
    >> may see on the way to hers. why should the artists have the
    >> slightest feeling their opinion about what happens in galleries has
    >> any importance whatsoever.
    >>
    >> it's just a deal, they borrow the piece for a particular duration and
    >> give it back unharmed. it'd be totally prima donna obnoxious to
    >> insist on any aspect of how to present it, though out of convenience
    >> often curators will try to make accommodations. Artists often seem
    >> to think just cause they can talk, people automatically listen.
    >>
    > +
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    >
  • MTAA | Thu Dec 16th 2004 8:54 a.m.
    Perhaps contacting this organization would be helpful:

    http://www.mkjf.org/contact.html

    On Dec 16, 2004, at 10:24 AM, Joy Garnett wrote:

    >> Mid-Kansas Jewish Federation

    ===
    <twhid>http://www.mteww.com</twhid>
    ===
  • joy garnett | Thu Dec 16th 2004 10:03 a.m.
    Hi -- I posted Debbie's message (with her kind permission) on NEWSgrist
    just now. I have also posted an addendum written by an Israeli frind of
    mine who I work with -- here's the link and here are her thoughts:

    Art Intolerance, Part 2: Emily Jacir/Ulrich
    http://newsgrist.typepad.com/underbelly/2004/12/_forwarded_mess.html

    [...debbie's post...]

    ADDENDUM (an anonymous Israeli art professional's response):
    a few thoughts off the top of my head:

    - how is the donor affiliated with the Mid-Kansas Jewish Federation?
    - when and where did the transition occur from Emily Jacir and the
    Mid-Kansas Jewish Federation to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? As far
    as I can tell there is not one Israeli involved in this situation. The
    MKJF certainly DOES NOT represent Israel or Israelis or any point of view
    that is affiliated with Israel, and that assumption is offensive and
    outright WRONG.
    - again, the fact that the donor can have such influence over an
    organization is a particularly AMERICAN phenomenon - this situation would
    not occur anywhere else - not in Israel, where Palestinian artists are
    shown regularly, and not in Europe. I think this is a particularly
    American problem, that has to do with the country allowing people with
    money to have power over everything.
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