’The Duc, Viet Nam’ by Brian Doan was damaged by protestors
I recently posted an article about a protest involving an exhibit involving Communism. Over 300 protestors met outside of the controversial F.O.B. II: Art Speaks exhibit sponsored by the Vietnamese Arts & Letters Association Center in Santa Ana. There have been several disturbances at the gallery do to the controversial theme of the exhibit and the fact that it took place in a location near a Vietnamese American community.
Those involved with the protest felt that a similar controversial exhibit would not have taken place near other minority communities. For example, one rights advocate stated that a photograph of a young Jewish person wearing a Nazi symbol standing next to a bust of Hitler would not have been displayed in a heavily populated community of Holocaust survivors. Others have suggested that an exhibit involving African Americans wearing Ku Klux Klan (KKK) hoods would not take place in a predominately black community.
The actions of the protestors has sparked debate concerning what should be expected from curators as far as being responsible for the exhibits they manage. The story has caused a wildfire of comments from individuals online. Some support the exhibit as the perfect example of the freedoms shared in the United States while others have suggested that the exhibit was nothing more than a reckless publicity stunt. Some feel that support for the exhibit reveals that the “scars” within the Vietnamese American community are not acknowledged when compared to the “sensitivity” that is involved in discussions-- both verbal and visual-- involving the history of African Americans and other minority groups in the United States. One anonymous forum commenter stated, “if it involved slavery and the KKK the organizers would have been charged with hate crimes.”.
What is your opinion? Should artists, curators, and gallery owners be held responsible for damage that occurs due to protestors if the work displayed is overly controversial? Should the First Amendment be upheld even if a minority group is hurt in the process? Would the exhibit had been shut down before opening had it involved a different minority in a similar context? Should parts of history be "off limits" until the generation that experienced it are long gone? What say you?
Links of Interest:
Vietnamese Americans protest art exhibit in Santa Ana -- Los Angeles Times
Vietnamese Americans Protest Controversial Exhibit Exploring Communism
Take care, Stay true,
New York Art Exchange