Contained/Controlled (exhibition)

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Date: 1997

Region: North America

Subject: Nudity, Explicit Sexuality, Political/Economic/Social Opinion

Medium: Installation


Artist: Roxie Thomas and Trina Nicklas

Confronting Bodies: Frank Holt, public art coordinator for city hall, and the City of Orlando

Dates of Action: Late 1997/Early 1998

Location: Orlando City Hall, Florida/ Manatee Community College president Sarah H. Pappas and other faculty and administration, Bradenton, Florida

Description of Artwork: It is an installation of works by censored artists, accompanied by some artist's commentary

The Incident: The first incident occurred at Orlando City Hall when Frank Holt agreed to host the show in April 1998. Later he expressed concern over the content of the exhibit so he and the show's organizers, Roxie Thomas and Trina Nicklas, compromised by deciding to find an alternative space for the pieces that were deemed likely to offend municipal employees. Thomas and Nicklas sent Holt six samples of the work to be included in the exhibit. He objected to the art for its nudity and disturbing images. Ultimately the show was cancelled. The exhibit faced censorship again when it was scheduled to open in January 1998 at Manatee Community College. Joe Locciscno, the gallery director and John James, the art department chair, removed a panel from a multi-panel work by Barbara Jo Revelle, once it had been viewed by the administration. This panel featured images of erect penises. Roxie Thomas and Trina Nicklas were careful to obtain approval for each piece in the exhibit prior to installation. They had a separate exhibition contract for each piece. As late as New Years Day they were assured that the college administration had approved all of the pieces. Thomas and Nicklas requested that President Sarah H. Pappas see and approve the entire work, but after having seen the piece, Pappas removed the piece from the show. There was no objection to images of female breasts and genitalia and flaccid penises at this time. Later it was decided that the show be cancelled altogether, apparently under the pressure of President Pappas.

Results of Incident: Not only were individual pieces of art censored, the entire show was cancelled on two different occasions. Thomas, Nicklas, and Revelle are considering legal action.

Source: National Campaign for Freedom of Expression Quarterly, winter 1997. Arts Wire CURRENT, (http://www.artswire.org)