Region: North America
Subject: Explicit Sexuality
Artist: Hans Evers
Confronting Bodies: Cambridge, MA City Councilor William Walsh
Dates of Action: October-December 1994
Location: Gallery 57, Cambridge City Hall Annex, Cambridge MA
Description of Artwork: An exhibit of selections from a two-year project on gender identity and issues of masculinity by Hans Evers. Work included self-portraits, representations of the arms and legs of the artist's sons, some phallic imagery, and pieces that allude to works by Donald Judd, Jeff Koons, and others. The show was sponsored by the Cambridge Arts Council, which regularly displays the work of local artists in its gallery space, a large foyer surrounded by municipal offices in the City City Hall Annex.
The Incident: City Councilor Walsh, a conservative eager to portray himself as guardian of the public morals while awaiting sentencing on 41 counts of bank fraud, ripped two rubber dildos out of their settings in Donald Judd-style boxes, grabbed a cast of a penis, and ran off with all three objects just before the show was to open on October 6. The pieces were returned in time for the opening, but the dildos and their settings sustained about $250 in damage.
Results of Incident: Councilor Walsh and his supporters called for the show to be shut down and for the Arts Council to be investigated. Neither happened, but there was stormy public debate about the incident. The artist filed charges against the City Councilor for malicious destruction of property. At this writing, City Councilor Walsh is due to be arraigned on those charges on December 6.
Source: James D'Entremont (Cambridge, MA) Personal involvement as a leader of the Boston Coalition for Freedom of Expression (BCFE).