The Tunnel of Love (installation)

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Date: 1993

Region: North America

Subject: Sexual/Gender Orientation,Nudity

Medium: Installation


Artist: Judie Bamber and Carol Ashley

Confronting Bodies: City officials in Hollywood

Dates of Action: 1993

Location: Hollywood, California

Description of Artwork: The Private and Public Pleasures exhibit included multi-media installations by artists Judie Bamber and Carol Ashley, which deal with the repression of female sexuality. The most controversial part of Bamber's Tunnel of Love was a laughing plastic vagina that was placed on a pedestal and spotlighted. Ashley's Look The Other Way included text describing a lesbian fantasy written on a blackboard.

The Incident: Working for Nomadic Site, a roving exhibition program sponsoring public art in non-traditional places, exhibit curator Lauren Lesko selected installations by Bamber, Ashley and artist Andrea Bowers to be displayed in the storefront window of a vacant, city-owned building donated by the Hollywood Redevelopment Project (HRP), a program of the city's Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA). After attending the exhibit's opening, the Hollywood Arts Council sent a letter to HRP Project Manager Cooke Sunoo expressing concern that the exhibit was too close to the Visitor's Center. Sunoo also claimed that although City Councilman Woo's press secretary Julie Jaskol claims that "Councilman Woo never saw the piece before or after it was covered up, [and ] has no comment on it."

Results of Incident: In response to the letter, Sunoo told Lesko either to alter or close the show. Consequently, Bamber covered the relevant portion of her installation with a paper bag and Ashley draped black cloth over her blackboard. As a result of the incident, CRA enacted a written policy empowering a "community Art/Design Advisory Panel" to approve or disapprove of artwork to be displayed in the Hollywood community.

Source: Artistic Freedom Under Attack 1994