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Art Thou Aware

Illustration by Erika Pahk

To Bear a Boob

Attorney General John Ashcroft ordered a partially nude statue in the Justice Department's Great Hall to be covered up last month. Apparently, Ashcroft called for the cover up after seeing pictures of the Spirit of Justice's bare boob floating behind his head during one of his speeches. The statue was created as part of the Works Progress Administration project in the 1930s and has been in the Great Hall ever since. She still remains in the room but has been covered by blue drapery that reportedly cost over $8,000. As Afghan women lifted their burkas, America's Spirit of Justice was covered with one.

Show Stoppas

The Art Newspaper recently published its annual worldwide exhibition figures. The 2001 winner, as the most highly viewed show of the year was (drumroll ... ) Vermeer and the Delft School. This exhibition of the old Dutch master's paintings reeled in an average of 8,000 visitors a day to the Met in New York. Among the winners in the contemporary art category were Gursky at the MoMA, The Worlds of Nam June Paik at Guggenheim Bilbao, Art in Technological Times at the SFMOMA, and William Kentridge at the Hirshorn in D.C. Suprisingly enough, yet thankfully, the Guggenheim's Art of the Motorcycle (now at the Las Vegas branch) and Georgio Armani shows did not make the list at all.

Democracy of Photographs

For one more month Here is New York: A Democracy of Photographs will be on view across from the Chicago Cultural Center at 78 East Washington Street. Chicago is the first venue outside of New York to see this exhibition of photographs of the World Trade Center and ground zero by both amateurs and professionals. At one point last fall 3,000 visitors a day were waiting in line to see the photographs hung anonymously and modestly on wires in a vacated Soho boutique, just 20 blocks away from ground zero. Here is New York is still accepting photos by walk-ins to the exhibit here in Chicago, and online at www.hereisnewyork.com.

Commercial Culture

London's champion of the Young British Artists, Charles Saatchi, has shut down his infamous gallery! Well, just temporarily, that is. He is in the process of relocating the space from its former quiet residential home (near Abbey Road) to the middle of London's museum district. Saatchi has got his eyes on the County Hall, a civic building whose situation on the River Thames between the Tate Modern and Tate Britain would ensure heavy tourist foot traffic. The County Hall currently houses a Salvador Dali gallery, hotel, aquarium, and a McDonald's. The government may not approve of Saatchi's application for the, space though, since the venue is supposed to be family-friendly, according to the conservation association's regulations. What, are the Chapman brothers' penis-faced child mannequins not family-friendly?

Whorelise Yourself

One of the stranger marketing ploys by a museum as of late comes in the form of a call to "Warholise Your Face" on the Tate website. In anticipation of an upcoming Warhol exhibition, the Tate has put on a contest in which online users are asked to submit photographs of themselves. The "best" images then will be morphed into Warholesque portraits. The prize for the winners? 15 minutes of fame of course. Check it out at www.tate.org.uk/modern/.

The Great White Way

In the first controversial move since Serrano's "Piss Christ," the NEA recently denied funding for a traveling retrospective of the William Pope.L work called "eRacism." This denial of grants is reportedly related to a controversial performance by the artist in 1996 where he wore a 14-foot long white cardboard phallic projection and walked the streets of Harlem. This would be the first large scale exhibition by the artist who creates installations and performance pieces that challenge stereotypes about the black male identity. The retrospective will go on though since The Warhol Foundation saved the day and donated a sizeable grant to the project. Pope.L will be one of many artists to watch at the upcoming Whitney Biennial: There he will perform an increment of The Great White Way which will take him five years to complete, as it's a 22 mile crawl from The Statue of Liberty to the Bronx that he will perform while wearing a Superman costume. On March 17th he will crawl from the Northwest corner of the Customs House at State and Whitehall Streets.

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