Alma Lopez, Our Lady, 1999, Digital print, 17.5 x 14 in. Courtesy of the artist.
IRREVERENT: A Celebration of Censorship
Feb 13 - May 03, 2015
For decades, censors—would-be and actual—have attempted to suppress queer creativity. With prohibitions, backroom dealings and cover-ups, spying, break-ins, and vandalism, artwork has been excluded from exhibitions or damaged or destroyed after installation.
Taking inspiration from the censorship of Robert Mapplethorpe’s art in the 1980s and 1990s, and the more recent withdrawal of David Wojnarowicz’s A Fire in My Belly from the National Portrait Gallery, we explore the innovative responses to watershed moments in the history of censored LGBTQ art in Canada, England, Ireland, the Netherlands, South Africa, Sweden, Turkey, and the United States. Here we see the counter-history of artists, artworks, and exhibitions that were considered too irresistible for the taboo-frenzied sanitizers of the world.
Sex—queer, dissident, explicit—is a central theme, as this subject is often what triggered a response from the censors and haters. While the defamers of queer life have consistently used depictions of sexual acts as an excuse to exclude works, sexual acts have also been used as a political tool to silence minority voices on a variety of issues that range from immigration and religion, to race, gender, and disability, to globalization and capitalism.
Censorship occurs differently and in multiple ways, locations, and temporal moments. Here we seek to situate the work within its historical context of censorship and to highlight the resilience of the queer artists who audaciously attempt to address diverse social and political issues in their work.