An exhibit that is quite relevant, given our politics. I have been to the SF Center for the book twice to see this. The art work is marvelous, way beyond my capacity to photograph but the ideas are what hit you the hardest.
It's not just the books under fire now that worry me. It is the books that will never be written. The books that will never be read. And all due to the fear of censorship. — Judy Blume, children's book author
Curated by Hanna Regev, the exhibit features work from more than 60 artists working in a variety of media. With most artists interpreting a banned book of their choice, the project provides a unique forum for visual artists to respond to the suppression of literary art. The exhibit, with different work on display at each location, will run through November 26 in San Francisco and December 31 in Oakland. Participating artists include Enrique Chagoya, Sandow Birk, Mildred Howard, Emory Douglas, Naomie Kremer and many others.
Books that have been suppressed constitute a shockingly wide selection, ranging from colonial-era novels to acknowledged contemporary classics—books such as Fanny Hill, Tom Sawyer, The Color Purple, and the Harry Potter novels. "What's most troubling," says AAMLO chief curator Rick Moss, "is how arbitrary the process is. In keeping with the missions of our two organizations, we all felt this was the most thought-provoking and appropriate way to explore this issue, while dovetailing with the ALA's 2008 theme 'free people read freely.'"
Curator Hanna Regev works with many Bay Area cultural organizations and art galleries, producing public programs in history, art, and museum practice. Regev serves on the board of the First Amendment Project, and is a past president of the Northern California Council of the National Museum of Women in the Arts.
Regev’s view is that: "Collectively, the work initiates an important undertaking—the recovery of fragments of our censored history. We felt that the pairing of visual and graphic artists with these banned and threatened books was a natural one. After all, what better group to interpret suppressed works than visual artists, who are already so attuned to the threat of censorship. The show is a powerful reminder of the fragility of our freedoms, many of which are being chipped away by the Patriot Act. It is a powerful testament to the irrepressible creative spirit."
Four panel discussions have been designed specifically for the exhibit, addressing a variety of topics. All are free to the public.
Sept. 28, 2 pm, San Francisco Public Library, Koret Auditorium: Dispelling Dirt: Sex, Gender and Censorship
Artists Kara Maria, Nigel Poor, Jan Wurm, and Alejandra Chaverri
Oct. 18, 3 pm, AAMLO: Mark Twain and the Censors
Victor Fischer, editor Mark Twain papers, Bancroft Library; artist Milton Bowens
Nov. 22, 3 pm, AAMLO: Literary Works on Trial
Jan Wurm moderator; David Greene, Director, First Amendment Project; artists Richard Kamler, Eileen Moderbacher, Justin Hoover, Barbara Milman
Dec. 6, 3 pm, AAMLO: African American Writers and Censorship
Jeanne Powell, poet; artists Emory Douglas, Favianna Rodriguez, Bryan Keith Thomas
San Francisco Center for the Book, 300 De Haro St, San Francisco: From Aug. 15-Nov. 26, 2008 And African American Museum and Library at Oakland
Sept. 5-Dec. 31, 2008
Gallery hours: Tues-Sat, 12-5:30