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F News Question

What role should the administration play in decisions about displaying controversial or problematic student artwork at SAIC public events?

I know this will never be published, but really, what kind of fucking world is this where an art school embraces the idea of "problematic" artwork? I've been stewing over this for about half an hour now. It really, really pisses me off that this paper, which should be impartial at the very least if not in favor of the display of all students artwork no matter what the content, uses the term "problematic art." what, exactly, makes a piece of art "problematic?" Any artist who would embrace the idea of there being art that could cause a problem and therefore could rightly be banned has stopped being a real artist and become a museum whore. Any true artist who even acknowledges the idea of problematic art should be busily making lots of it, and putting it up in very public places. Now chances are this small rebuttal won't be published; I've just called the editors, publishers, and, I suppose, one of the writers ethical sell outs, but for Christ's sake, try to avoid programming us with your questions in the future.
-doubleplusungood arpad, student

I believe the panel should open up to the student body at that point, if there is a problem with displaying such work. At that time, the students should be encouraged to review information/content of the work and vote as to whether or not the work should be displayed.
--Alyssa Miserendino, photo student

I don't think that they should play any role. This is supposed to be an art Institute; freedom of expression should not be prohibited unless it brings harm to an unwilling person. The administration should be the Last people to censor anything, sometimes the envelope needs to be pushed and if this is not allowed to happen I think it would be a detriment to the school and its students.
-Matt Strongin, student(interdisciplinary)

The administration should play quite a substantial role in display of student artwork when it is especially that "problematic." Depending on the administration's definition of what type work can pose some sort of problem, they are put in place to exercise some authority, otherwise the "school" (thought of as an "Institute" of prestige and rich training) would have no reason to exist.

Solution: Works that fall within such a category should maybe be sent through an appeals process ... reviewed by a board that consists of students/peers, faculty, and administration staff.
--Shayla N. Johnson MFA Visual Communications student

Just as baseball fans do not go to a game to see the umpire in action, one does not go to an art exhibition at an art school to see an administrative success. If spectators are going to get blood in their mouths, if kittens or babies are going to be kicked, or if more than three seeds of marijuana are going to be planted in mother earth, it should be unabashedly halted. If people's feelings or sense of decency are going to be stepped on, portrayed in underpants, or stripped naked and seduced, it should be glorified and defended to the death.
--Ethan Roeder, Student Government Co-President

The first role of administration is to protect the interests of the school within regard to the public relation perspective.

Some important questions need to be asked...Does the artwork represent the best example of what SAIC students are creating? What exactly makes it controversial or problematic? If the work falls under these categories but does so in a way that it encourages thought and discussion it should be considered. What is the relationship of the work in regards to the contemporary art scene? Is similar work shown in the galleries? Is similar work shown at the MCA? If it fits into the contemporary scene it adds relevance to the work. In relations to contemporary art and themes from the last few years there is a heightened push for shock art. The real question is whether this 'shock art' only shocks you once and then there is no more to it, or does the act of shocking also transcend to other points of discussion. The issue of inclusion of this type of work in a public SAIC session should be based on the quality of the work and the success of its message. Even the Brooklyn Museum enjoyed the attention from its "Sensational" exhibition. There are other ways to deal with the work besides excluding it. Curatorial decisions can be made to placement of the work and whether didactic warnings should be included to warn those that Mature Viewers are Advised. Administration is there to protect the school and to protect the students. Often these decisions feel like censorship, but the truth of the matter is that Administration has to think of its image to the public. This comes first, but there are many different ways that it can be handled so that students can explore, express and share their ideas at a SAIC event.
--Heather Birkhead, Coordinator, Cooperative Education Department

Perhaps a better question would be: When will artists be savvy enough to create work that pushes boundaries, but does not become easy targets for right wing conservatives, or easy reasons for art supporting agencies to pull their support? The term subversive is widely misused in this school to refer to work that is oversive. To subvert is to sneak in under the guise of normalness. I have never been surprised by art works that have caused controversy, it is always very predictable. It is all about recognizing how marginal the fine art audience is, and artists wishing to engage in a dialogue with the larger society.
--Chris Sullivan, Film Video and New Media

I personally think the current attitude of Administration is the best they could do for now. I know it's too much to ask for a 'home-like' environment where a mistake can be forgiven and understood totally. However, that is not to discourage any works that push the edge, in many [instances]. Students and the school should admit their differences in their goals: one is here to learn, and the other is here to keep the institution growing, in other words, to make money.
--Taeyoon Choi, student BFA with emphasis on Art History, Theory and Criticism/performance

I think that the administration should have the same role that they have been content with since I have been at this school. They should be hands-off until there is a crisis. When there becomes an outrage jeopardy of some bad press, they should pretend like they are behind the students. While doing this, they should remove the artwork and create unwritten rules that prevent anything interesting or provoking from being in the public eye.

The students should also continue the same role that they have been choosing to have since I have been here. Instead of giving their work serious thought, and instead of trying to research other artists and learn some art history they should be lazy. The students only goal should be what it has been in the past: get the most attention with the least amount of effort. When someone calls them on it, they should whine and complain about how the system prevents them from being creative and innovative.

Basically, I am pro-status-quo. What I have learned while attending this school is that the desire for change should be forgotten. Why should anything change? The administration gets fat paychecks for running paper trails and talking about the wonderful new dorm and all of our fancy "new technology." It is all about the buzzword. The students don't want to take any responsibility for their lives, much less their work. There is basically no reason for any motivation for change. This what I have learned while attending this school: be content with the way things are and you will never be disappointed. The people I really sympathize with are the teachers. They are the ones who get taken advantage of. They are also the ones that the students constantly disappoint.
--Anonymous, Graduating Senior [email protected]

I believe the administration needs to support the instructors judgment regarding work . The instructor however,needs to be able to evaluate a students output and understand vapid sensationalism from an honest forceful statement!!! If there is any doubt , the instructor should feel free to get opinions from other instructors and/or the administration if still troubled by the decision.

Administrators get paid to make the difficult decisions, but should do so by invitation of the instructor. The best case scenario is that the work would be given the effort of discussion and reasoning before a mutual decision ,between the instructor and the administration is arrived at! This way everyone concerned is treated fairly. However, In the real world the administration still has the responsibility.
--Marlene Short, alumni / student / former teacher

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