Seeing Red, White or Blue: Censored in the USA

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Date: 1993

Region: North America

Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion, Sexual/Gender Orientation, Nudity

Medium: Photography, Mixed Media, Installation


Artist: Visual Arts Center of Alaska

Confronting Bodies: Christian and veterans' groups

Dates of Action: 1993

Location: Anchorage, Alaska

Description of Artwork: Seeing Red, White or Blue -- Censored in the USA compiles works of art that have been censored or threatened with censorship, including Robert Mapplethorpe's X Portfolio photographs, Dread Scott's What Is The Proper Way To Display A U.S. Flag?, and a number of other works from across the country.

The Incident: The Alaskans United Chapter of AFA filed a complaint with the police claiming VAC was in violation of local obscenity laws. The group demanded that the show be closed, but the police department failed to find the exhibit obscene. Meanwhile, the Veterans of Foreign Wars chapter stole the flag in Scott's work three times. Community member Robin Brogan stole the flag as well because she claimed it needed to be in "protective custody" to keep it from being desecrated further.

Results of Incident: When the Alaska State Council on the Arts met to allocate funds among Alaska arts groups and individuals, Council Member Dale Hanson proposed cutting all of VAC's state funds. Hanson's motion failed in a 4-6 vote, and the center received three-fourths of the funding requested in its grant proposal.

Source: Artistic Freedom Under Attack 1994