This letter by Hide/Seek
co-curatorresearch assistant Jenn Sichel was just forwarded to me by Seattle artist Garth Amundsen:
As many of you know, I spent several years in DC putting together a show at the National Portrait Gallery called Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture. The show casts the history of American art through a queer lens, challenging our assumptions about what/how art means.
The show is not a reductive look at "gay" art but rather a look at how artists navigate around a complex set of codes that govern sexual expression, how they circumvent and/or use these codes to express their own silenced desires, how they've dealt with love and loss when AIDS ravaged the community, and how (more recently) artists complicate society's imperative to identify as "gay/lesbian."
The show is under serious attack from the right. They demanded that a video by David Wojnarowicz be removed, and the museum caved with an hour. I am outraged — almost 20 years after his death, Wojnarowicz is still being silenced! And now there is a good chance the entire show will be pulled.
Please help me in rallying behind the show. We need an army of support.
What can you do?
Email NPG's director, Martin E. Sullivan expressing your support for the show. His email address is: SullivanM@si.edu
Forward this email to everyone and anyone who might care.
Write your congressmen/women.
Spread the word on facebook, twitter, etc.
WE WON'T GO DOWN SILENTLY.
I'm working on getting an email address for G. Wayne Clough, the Smithsonian Secretary who made the final decision, too. His email this afternoon to his staff about why he made this decision basically says nothing (on MAN).
UPDATE: The National Portrait Gallery director tells the New York Times that "we are certainly not going to shut down the entire exhibition or take other pieces out of it."