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September 21, 1990 - Image 15

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1990-09-21
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Women and children first?

Last year, the 1988 Bessie
Award-winning Los Angeles
Poverty Department (LAD) was
called to Ann Arbor to rescue what
began to look like a theater
community regressing into the
mainstream. LAPD, the first
performance group in the nation
comprised mainly of homeless and
formerly homeless people, is now
remembered as an inspiration for
the increasing number of
contemporary Brechtian-derived
troupes around campus.
This year however, LAPD, along
with a increasing number of other
artists and organizations dedicating
their work to social change are
being put a new hit list: that of the
National Endowment for the Arts.
NEA councilmember Jacob
Neusner recently submitted a
proposal (more authoritarian than
the "anti-obscenity" Helms
amendment) that would allow no
funding for "any project that
advocates or promotes a particular
political, ideological, religious, or
partisan point of view, or a
particular program of social

change...." While that proposal was
defeated, it now seems to be laying
the groundwork for attacks on a
broader spectrum of art.
Check out the pressing facts: so
far every artist in danger of being
denied NEA funding
has challenged the A l
status quo. Robert
Mapplethorpe
promotes

show consistently selling out,
brings our attention to the
multitude of facades restraining the
female body - whether it be
through the baring of her own flesh
or in her own language.
But to me, the
most overt display of
macho paternalism
during all these
artistic witchhunts

Fj

homoeroticism, as by Donnc
well as promoting b
sexual freedom in
general. While the controversial
Mapplethorpe exhibit XYZ
portfolios have been dismissed as
"child porn" by some, most art
critics have written about the way
Mapplethorpe is following in the
footsteps - both in controversy
and content - of Michelangelo.
Photographer Andres Serrano
questions patriarchy (as well as the
general hierarchy) within the
church. His use of urine, semen,
and blood delivers an unforgiving
'blow to the Puritan taboo of
"uncleanliness." And performance
artist Karen Finley, with every

a

U

a. diolo came when Helms
dpoo announced that all
"women and
children" should leave the room so
the Mapplethorpe photos could be
passed around the Senate
chambers... or was it the
congressional locker room?
Now the more obvious political
obstructions against artists have
begun - those working beyond
sexual politics. Margaret Clarke -
a woman working on a piece about
endangered species - is on the
same NEA hit list as LAPD. The list
continues to be assembled by
Neusner, and by American Scholar
editor Joseph Epstein. Other artists
being "investigated" include those

I,

working with issues of race,
environmental issues and
homelessness. So, it seems, the
crusade Finley warned of this
summer may actually be occurring
a year earlier than she anticipated
(see Finley's summer press
conference, below).
For 25 years, the National
Endowment for the Arts has
supported diverse cultural life in
America like theater, dance, music
and art. Not just for the petty
pretentious of the big cities, the
NEA has more importantly been
sponsoring artists in small towns
and communities all across the
country. So far, the NEA has
awarded 85,000 grants in its first
quarter-century. Clearly, the
endowment has encouraged artistic
freedom and nourished our
communities. The NEA has also
been a huge force in celebrating
our growing acceptance of all
people. And out of all those grants
- more than 3,000 a year - less
than one percent has been targeted
as "controversial."
As if that wasn't enough for those
concerned with First Amendment
rights, a greater attempt to censor
films, videos, books, magazines,
photos, and other works of art
classified as "obscene" is still being
tossed about in the Michigan
House and Senate. Of course, not
by coincidence, the term "hard-
core pornography" is, once again,
being defined by men to
stringently protect their "women
and children."
So what's being done? The
Michigan Booksellers Association
(MBA) as well as the Michigan
Intellectual Freedom Coalition
(MIFc) are among the major fighters
of Senate Bill 330 and House Bill
4642, both of which call for the re-
evaluation of and crackdown in
statewide obscenity laws. Rep.
Perry Bullard, (D-Ann Arbor), is
another avid opponent of the bill.
Local artists' organizations have
also begun networking and
engaging in other forms of activism.
As far as the NEA stuff goes, a direct
line to Congress has been
established by the American Arts
Alliance for complaints about
artistic restrictions. By simply
calling 1-900-226-ARTs, for $4.50
(billed to your phone) mail-grams
will be sent to your congressional
representatives telling them you
support the National Endowment
for the Arts, that the NEA is
important to your community, and
that you want Congress to re-
authorize it without censorship
restrictions.
Any other forms of retaliation? I
would imagine some creativity is
required. Perhaps a little of that is
still left in Ann Arbor.
Em
Sex, cries, and A Rapes
This summer the Franklin Furnace
performing space was shut down after
one curator deemed performing artist
Karen Finley's work as "obscene". The
following is a spech given by Ms.
Finley July 11, 1990 at a press

0 4
conference at the Public Theater in New
York after her funding as ut.
Currently, Finley is one of four artists
who wr under consideration for NEA
grants but denied them. Other artists
are currently being investigated.
I am one of the four artists who
was unanimously rejected by a
panel of experts and then turned
down by the NEA chair John E.
Frohnmayer. As an American artist,
I have made a commitment to
creating work that addresses social
concerns. Much of my work deals
with victims in our society. I use
the language of how society treats
these victims: women, people
living with AIDS, minorities, gays
and lesbians, the homeless, and
victims of child incest and violent
crimes.
It is unfortunate that we live in
these times that have a harrowing
plague of citizens who have
subways as homes. As an American
artist I feel it is my responsibility to
apply my talents to record history
and make our country more
sensitive to today's problems. I am
being punished because I am a
morally concerned artist.
We, as a nation, are in a new era
of blacklisting as during the Fifties
period called McCarthyism. This is
a sad regressive time in our national
history. As the wall of Eastern
Europe is coming down, it seems a
new wall in our country is going up.
We are now in an era of American
history where our nation does not
take its strengths from its cultural
diversity, but rather weakens itself
by not allowing its diversity to
speakpublicly.
I perform publicly throughout
this land. I will be performing
throughout this next season in
many publicly funded spaces. Will
my performing there now be
looked at as a hindrance to their
funding?
This is the insidious side of the
NEA attacks. I am told that I have
the freedom to perform anywhere I
want as long as it's not public
money. Yet all of the art spaces and
museumsacross the country are
publicly funded. They are taking
away my freedom to perform - as
evident by Jesse Helms' recent
request to the GAo (General
Accounting Office) to investigate
certain New York City art spaces,
specifically because I had
performed there.
I hope we keep the Endowment
because we do not want to return
to a society where art is only for the
upper class. In societies where
there is no funding for the arts, art
is made only by the wealthy or
those sponsored by the wealth.
This gives a slanted view of
expression for there is no voice of
the middle class and the poor.
Those who have written
damaging articles about me: Evans
(and) Novak, William Safire,
William Buckley, the Washington
Times, and the New York Herald
have not seen me perform. Is
Frohnmayer listening to them and
ignoring the panel of theater

Disarming the arming of
the Campus Police

Those few friends of mine who
support the creation of an armed
campus police force are getting a
lot of mileage out of the fighting
at the Union September 8th. "Ha-
ha," they say. "The security
guards were unequipped to deal
with the violence because of
wimps like you. Shame, shame."
Then they leave.
Unfortunately, this is not a
particularly convincing argument.
No qualified security guard would
use a gun on a crowded dance
floor, for fear of injuring innocent
bystanders. If the Union wants to
prevent such events from
occurring in the future, they'd be
best off trying to control the
number of people who can be in
any Union room at once, rather
than waiting for such a situation
to happen and then trying to deal
with it with swarms of people
getting in the way of breaking the
fight up.
But don't expect to hear
anything of the sort from the
cops-on-campus crowd. For them,
every act of violence on this
campus, acts of violence by police
officers excepted, is another
excuse for a campus police force,
no matter how little good one
would do in each of the cases
offered.
In fact, behind the idea of a
campus police force is an
enormous myth: the idea that
police forces prevent crime. They
don't. They catch criminals who
have already committed crimes.
At best, they act as a mild
deterrent; at worst, they are too
inept and/or corrupt to even do
election Quebec was alone in
overwhelmingly supporting the.
Free Trade Agreement between
Canada and the United States.
Qu6bec businesses have been
extremely successful in areas
involving advanced technologies,
which bring in high profits. One
of Canada's most prosperous
provincial economies, Qu6bec's
Gross Domestic Product (the
value of all goods and services
produced over the course of a
year,) totalled US$129.8 billion in
1989, representing 23.6 percent of
Canada's GDP. In the March 12,
1990 edition of Maclean's, Ross
Laver writes, "There is also a

that well.
Recently, the nations' police
forces have shifted their concern
to the even more nebulous notion
of "maintaining order." It was in
that spirit that, during the now-
legendary "basketball riots" that
followed Michigan'sNCAA victory
in 1989, police refused to arrest a
man that a security guard had
caught attempting to loot his
store, but seriously considered
using tear gas to disperse the
overwhelmingly non-destructive
crowd.
Historically, crime has been
prevented only by the vigilance of
persons both able and willing to
defend themselves, in forms that
have ranged from community
militias to neighborhood watches.
This tradition survives on this
campus, in limited form, in
programs like Safewalk. Police
forces imposed from without are
poison to such projects. The only
times that security officers of the
type the University wishes to
bring in have worked well are
cases in which they are directly
contracted for by the people they
are to protect. With the
overwhelming majority of
students either opposed to or
apathetic about arming campus
security, it's a safe bet that the
administration's proposal is not
such a case.
If we are to reduce the number
of acts of violence committed at
the University, we must do so by
encouraging people to look out
for themselves and help each
other out. In addition to Safewalk,
this campus already has a number
growing confidence that the
regions - particularly Qudbec,
Ontario, and the West - could
survive economically on their
own."
Qudbecers' economic optimism
continues, despite a 9.7 percent
unemployment rate and 1989 $1.5
billion deficit. Pierre Laurin,
Montreal-based vice-chairman of
Merrill Lynch & Co.'s Canadian
unit, stresses that Qudbec
Premier Bourassa's philosophy
includes "keep cool and don't do
anything to jeopardize the
economic soundness of the
province." Unfortunately for
Canada, its political instability

of self-defense classes, crisis
centers, and other voluntarist
efforts to fight violent crime.
There should be more. Rather
than call for the police to
prosecute rapists more harshly,
feminist
groups could
provide
protective
patrols for
poorly-lit
public areas.
Rather than
call for
stronger
gun-control
W aIker laws,liberals
a could
encourage
the
proliferation of information
concerning the safe use of
weapons. Rather than denounce
racism in the Ann Arbor police
department, Black people could
organize to effectively defend
themselves - from the police, if
necessary. So long as we are stuck
in the mindset that says, "Only
people I don't know can defend
me," the forces calling for campus
cops will always have a rationale
to fall back on.
Which brings me to my central
point. The administration, as
usual, is going about things the
wrong way. If they really want
their own police force, then
instead of constantly pushing for
one in the face of near-unanimous
student opposition, it ought to
pay someone on the uCAR
Steering Committee to cover the
sidewalks of Ann Arbor with the
will affect investment because it
makes uncertain future economic
prospects.
Despite Finance Minister
Michael Wilson's attempts at
maintaining high interest rates to
attract foreign investors and a
pledge by Premier Peterson of
Ontario and Premier Bourassa not
to let their differences weaken
foreign investment, investors'
level of confidence in Canada as a
nation is waning. Keynes stressed
that "expectations about the
future" determine the "state of
business confidence."
Confidence, in turn, plays a role
in a business' willingness to

9

slogan "SECURITIS A
RIGHT, NOT A PRIVILEGE,"
stenciled in big, colorful letters
that no one can miss. Almost
instantaneously, half the campus
left will be writing virtually
literate editorials in the Daily,
calling for the University to
provide armed patrols to protect
students, "particularly women,
gay men and lesbians, and people
of color," from violent attacks.
The only stumbling point will
concern whether such patrols will
be made up of the regular rent-a-
thugs or by "student/worker-
controlled" rent-a-thugs who
espouse Marxist sociology. The
University could then
compromise by calling the cops
"Anti-Discrimination Patrols" and
making sure that all races are
proportionally represented in
proper affirmative-action style,
after putting up enough of a fight
to ensure that the activists will
feel as though they have
accomplished something.
The fact that this has yet to
occur indicates a political
shallowness on the part of
administrators that is guaranteed
to make them laughingstocks
among authoritarians everywhere.

[0 Now they're set to strike again. With a bold new album
produced by Tom Werman (Motley Crue, Poison).

SALE 9C

[1 Stryper. They'll rock the hell out of you.
TM

Through October 3rd.

invest. Bourassa realizes that
foreign investment, particularly
from the United States, is vital for
Qudbec's transition to a newer,
more independent Qudbec. Thus,
for the present, Bourassa has
announced that Qudbec will keep
the Canadian dollar as the official
currency of the French province.
His decision gives investors
confidence in the Qudbec
currency because it is still backed
by the Bank of Canada. Foreign
investors will continue to proceed
with caution, but Canada is
making an effort to protect and
encourage investment.
Often, as in the ussa, economic

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TRACKS ANN ARBOR South University Galleria

12 WEEKEND ~emgmngr Zi, 19911

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