PHILADELPHIA, PA.- Two decades ago, the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania organized Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Moment. The traveling retrospective was curated by Janet Kardon, who was the ICA Director from 1979 to 1989 and who organized many pioneering exhibitions for the institution. The show fell victim to public outcry against government sponsorship of "obscene" art when Washington's Corcoran Gallery of Art canceled its stop on the tour for fear of negative repercussions, especially its possible impact on NEA appropriations. The Corcoran's decision sparked a controversial national debate: Should tax dollars support the arts? Who decides what is "obscene" or "offensive" in public exhibitions? And if art can be considered free speech, is it a violation of the First Amendment to revoke federal funding on grounds of obscenity? To this day, these questions remain very much at issue.
The United States continues to have no clear or official cultural policy; the federal government does not grant fellowships to individual artists; and obscenity-based censorship persists, along with other content-based restrictions. Co-presented by the Institute of Contemporary Art and the Philadelphia Exhibitions Initiative at The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, this two-day symposium commemorating the 20th anniversary of Mapplethorpe's exhibition brings together world-renowned artists, critics, and scholars to examine the legacy of the culture wars of the 1990s on the arts in the United States, as well as the issues that artists and art institutions face today.
Thursday, February 12
Meyerson Hall B1, 201 South 34th Street @ 5:30pm
Introduction: Janet Kardon
1989: The Perfect Moment
Keynote: Mapplethorpe's Beauty
Performance: Patti Smith
Friday, February 13
Annenberg School 110, 3620 Walnut Street
Introduction · 9:45am
Claudia Gould and Paula Marincola
1989: Battleground Year · 10am
Panel: Artists -The Question of Freedom · 10:30am-12:30pm
Moderator: Richard Meyer
Panelists: Karen Finley · Joseph Kosuth · Andres Serrano
Panel: Institutions -The Question of Courage · 2-4pm
Moderator: Robert Storr
Panelists: Michael Brenson · Sheldon Hackney · Kathy Halbreich · Raymond Learsy
No pre-registration required. Seating is limited and available on a first come, first served basis.
For more information:
This program is co-presented by the Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia Exhibitions Initiative at The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. Support also provided by The Honickman Foundation, The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, The Emily and Jerry Spiegel Fund to Support Contemporary Culture and Visual Arts, Harvey S. Shipley Miller/The Judith Rothschild Foundation and Christie's.