APPEALS Open all letters / Close all letters
When a queer artist who uses found materials, many of them mined on-line, gets accused of possessing child pornography, we should all be scared. We've been through these kinds of attacks on art before with Steve Kurtz, but whereas his prosecution rightly elicited a worldwide outcry, the response to Lawrence Brose's case has been much more muted. Child pornography charges are like that; they play on our better natures, automatically arousing our sympathy for the vulnerable and innocent, while casting the accused in the worst possible light.
But as an art historian, I’ve been concerned that the hysteria over child pornography has not only dragooned the innocent like Lawrence, it is also been increasingly deployed as a weapon of right wing culture war. From the day Dennis Barrie, director of the Cincinnati Museum of Art was arrested on child porn charges for trying to show the Robert Mapplethorpe exhibition The Perfect Moment unexpurgated, we’ve seen how the seemingly apolitical charge of child porn is actually a cover for a particularly egregious form of censorship.
I am outraged that Buffalo, with its proud tradition of innovative, cutting edge art, a city that supports more arts organizations per capita than any other in the US and has made art and culture the foundation of its revival is now increasingly viewed elsewhere as a cultural backwater--all because of these high profile persecutions of our artists. Enough is enough. Please contribute to Lawrence's defense and send a message that we will not submit our arts to their cynical political calculus.
Jonathan D, Katz
Director, Visual Studies Doctoral Program
University at Buffalo