The Art the Brooklyn Public Library Does Want You To SeeBy
I have a story in the Times today about the furor over the Footprints exhibition at the Brooklyn Public Library.
The exhibition comprises photographs, drawings and paintings of the people, places and buildings that lie in the approximately 22-acre ‘footprint’ of developer Bruce RatnerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s controversial Atlantic Yards development. The furor has been caused by the library’s decision to exclude some works it deemed too political or abstract, leading to charges of censorship.
Since the development is controversial and since the library’s decision to exclude some works has proved controversial, I expect that my story will come in for criticism too. So be it. However, there are a couple of things I would like to add, since the 450 word count for the Times story was a constraint.
Although people are accusing the library of censorship the exhibition in and of itself carries an anti-development message. However hard the library might have tried to exclude works that it deemed too political the sum total of the exhibition is to leave the visitor—or this one at least—with the depressing impression that if the development goes ahead all of the people and places featured will be gone.
Another aspect missing from today’s story is the image of the picture above. In my story I mention that the painting Console Yourself, by Aisha Cousins, is included in the exhibition, but the impact of the work is only clear if you can see it for yourself. The painting depicts an Atlantic Yards development-shaped Pac-Man (controlled by shady-looking executives?) about to devour neighborhood homes. I don’t think anyone could have made their feelings plainer than that.
Of course this raises more questions than it answers. Chiefly, if the library was willing to show the picture above, why not show Donald O’Finn’s collage of the arena as a gigantic, glowing toilet (below)? And if the library was willing to stage this exhibition, and include the work above, how can people be so quick to accuse the library of being frightened of offending the developer?
GL on the BPL in the NYT (Gowanus Lounge)
“Footprints” portrait hagiography or not? You decide (Atlantic Yards Report)
Hagiography at the library! (No Land Grab)
Shhhush. This is a Library! (Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn)