Artist: Brooke Mason
Date of Action: April 2016
Region: North America
Location: West Hollywood, CA
Confronting Bodies: City of West Hollywood
Description of Artwork: Mason's photography challenges gender stereotypes of perceived female roles in society. The three photographs included in the WOMEN MANIFEST exhibitions -- “Voyeur”, “Glass Ceiling” and "Soar" -- depict semi-nude women posing in interiors.
WOMEN MANIFEST was a series of three exhibitions in West Hollywood curated by photographer Brooke Mason to coincide with Women’s History Month. Mason's photographs “Voyeur” and “Glass Ceiling” were selected for the exhibition "EXPOSED: Celebrating Local Women Artists" in Plummer's Park. Mason's photograph "Soar" was juried into another exhibition, "Out and About," which opened at City Hall.
The Incident: “Voyeur” and “Glass Ceiling” were removed on March 11th five days after EXPOSED opened, due to an unknown city staff member's complaint. The City of West Hollywood also banned Mason's photograph “Soar” from ”Out and About”; the City was concerned that the image featured a partially nude underage model, which was not the case. The City would not allow “Soar” to be shown, threatening to cancel the exhibition if the photograph was included. Mason pulled “Soar” from the show herself.
Results of Incident: On April 14th 2016, the City of West Hollywood reached an agreement with the artist. In addition to issuing an apology to Brooke Mason for censoring her work, The City agreed to sponsor a solo exhibition of Mason's photographs at the Art Room, Plummer Park Community Center, April 21st – June 27th, 2016. However, soon after opening to the public, that exhibition met with unwarranted closures due to misunderstandings among staffers about gallery procedures and policies. The City has promised to adopt new, clear-cut guidelines for exhibiting art in public spaces.