Monday, December 17, 2007
"Artist" Grad Student Neal Peterson
Here is the story:
Art exhibits spark controversy at UMD
(By) Jana Hollingsworth
Duluth News Tribune - 12/14/2007
Cries of censorship were heard this week at the University of Minnesota Duluth after a graduate art student’s exhibit at the Tweed Museum of Art was shut down for a day because of explicit content.
That came on the heels of controversy over a student art club’s display case and its use of a small nude mannequin some perceived as a child.
Neal Peterson’s exhibit, “Thirteen Pieces of Paper,” is a series of images juxtaposed to raise questions about how people perceive images separately and in relation to each other. It includes four images of nudity in different contexts: a graphic sex scene from “Hustler” magazine, Michaelangelo’s Adam and Eve, an Anne Geddes photo of a nude mother with child and a Jeff Koons photograph aiming to portray pornography as art. It also includes pictures of dead pigs in a slaughterhouse, Pope John Paul II next to a dollar bill and burned bodies from the 1915 Armenian genocide.
The exhibit was covered Wednesday after a group of fifth- and sixth-grade students from AlBrook School arrived at the museum. Tweed director Ken Bloom said the content wasn’t appropriate for children and it was covered before any of them saw it.
Peterson said he was upset that his work was covered for the entire day. He planned to dismantle the exhibit Thursday but changed his mind when he found it had been uncovered. The exhibit remains open through Sunday.
“I think they weren’t expecting something of this nature and may be avoiding the issue of the work being provocative so it doesn’t look like censorship,” Peterson said.
The real issue, according to Bloom, was that Peterson misled museum employees about the exhibit.
Peterson was to show his graphic art thesis work in the museum — an exhibit on lyrical mapping — next week. He was allowed the additional week to show the “Thirteen Pieces” exhibit because employees thought it was part of his thesis and approved by the art and design department at UMD.
“If my name has to stand in front of the museum, the curator in front of the gallery … it seems we should be aware of what he is doing,” Bloom said. “If I thought it was a censorship issue, I would be the first one on the barricades screaming my head off. It is material that is definitely challenging, but that’s not the issue here.
“The process depends on trust,” Bloom said. “I had assumed it had been reviewed by faculty and it would have been appropriately presented.”
Sarah Nitschke, the chairwoman of Peterson’s thesis committee, said she didn’t see the work because it wasn’t part of his thesis. She said she had discussed the “Thirteen Pieces” project and its nature with Peterson, and she and other faculty approved the basic intention of the project. The Tweed, however, has the right to display or not display a student project, she said.
“There was a suggestion to put up an artist’s statement to further contextualize the work as an artist’s expression, and to put up clear warning signs,” Nitschke said.
Peterson met with Bloom before he installed the exhibit and told him it contained provocative content. Bloom also instructed him to display warning signs outside the exhibit and put up walls arranged to make entry to the exhibit purposeful. When he found out the exhibit wasn’t related to his thesis, Bloom told Peterson he felt he had misrepresented his work, Peterson said. Peterson disagreed.
“I’m just trying to show my art and invoke discussion,” he said. “I certainly don’t think young kids should see something like that, but it’s not my responsibility to stand at the door for an entire week.”
Bloom maintains the issue is academic and has been magnified because Peterson believes he was censored.
“It is conceivable that had it not been provocative material it would have been a minor hubbub, because then it just would have been a bureaucratic matter,” Bloom said. “If you want to make a statement, how about doing it the right way? No one has been censored.”
The Art Guild, a club that fills display cases with its work, drew ire at UMD recently because of a naked mannequin that some perceived as a child.
Visitors to a UMD blog discussed the issue, and arguments arose as to what constitutes art and whether the mannequin was even a child. One blogger saw a link between the mannequin and pedophilia.
Topher McCulloch, a member of the guild, said the display case was filled with supplies and art projects to show the club’s lack of storage space. The group added items every day for a week until it received an e-mail from the art department saying it needed to conclude the display. The guild’s protest wasn’t the most effective way to ensure the group’s future, McCulloch said they were told.
“We read that as a threat,” he said.
The group covered the display case with paper, tearing it in front of the mannequin to show a bit of the display inside, and wrote several statements, including: “beware of art” and “kids will be kids.” After that, the art department sent an e-mail to the guild saying a complaint had been received about the mannequin, McCulloch said. The display was taken down after its two reserved weeks were up.
“We were never officially censored, but the pressure felt heavy,” McCulloch said.
Messages left for art and design department Chairwoman Virginia Jenkins Wednesday and Thursday were not returned.
There is an enormous difference between allowing fifth and six grade children to view, say, Michelangelo's Adam and Eve or David, from viewing that of a sex scene out of Hustler Magazine. Neal, you're an ass and a dipshit. I suspect Neal is doing nothing more than self-promotion, perhaps doing his best to get his mug on CNN for his fifteen minutes of fame.
Neal, if you really want to be provocative and "invoke discussion", conceptualize and create a piece of art titled Prophet Mohammed in a jar of urine. Or may I suggest Dung Mohammed.
Oh - you'll invoke discussion with "art" like that. And it will be discussed and very controversial...all posthumously of you, of course.
WTF is up with this "artist", claiming censorship of his project of - among other things - a f*cking Hustler spread on display for 5-6th graders? What did he think would happen?
I'm not offended by what the story says he did, I'm offended by the fact he whines that 5-6th graders were not allowed to view it. What an asshole. Send a 5-6th grader into a store to buy a Hustler and see if the clerk sells it to the kid. Peterson is an idiot.
Shawn, if I don't get another chance, have a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year. We will hook up for java or a drink - I have your pho#. Prob after the 1st of the year since right now is - as T-Giving was - hectic and busy.
Let me know if you do the Mo-Teddy Bear and Piss and I'll gladly link to it.
I'm with you on many points about this Duluth shitstick, by extention it's like advocating taking your kid to a titty bar do do 'life drawing studies'and screaming discrimination when the bouncer won't let you in. I'm in the art world here and don't have many 'friends' amongst the concensus clique because I think many of them give art a bad name and am not afraid to pipe up. (a local gallery owner asked me recently what I thought of the current exhibition and was taken aback when the response was, "an abomination to the entirety of art history". Had a version of Teddy Mohammed up before the restucture, and am shopping for a non-absorbent Teddy to make this happen, and have the perfect large jar. Be assured my friend, there is blowback forming against this PC cult of mediocrity in the arts and cultural 'acceptibility'. Rock on buddy, rock on, and looking forward.
Your point of trying to bring a child into a titty bar or strip club hits the nail fairly and squarely.
Take care and heal up.
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