Adjacency and censorship

When I went to school in Singapore at Ngee Ann Polytechnic and studied Mass Communications, one of the first classes I took was taught by a man named Steve Milakov.  I enjoyed his class.  And one of the the things he taught us was about the concept of adjacency.  What happens when you place an ad next to an article and you make new meaning.  For example, an ad for McDonald’s Happy Meals running next to a story about Mad Cow Disease.

The New York Times, today teaches us a class in adjacency with 2 adjacent stories themselves about proximity and censorship.

See the screen shot and look to the two headlines on the bottom right.

at 3.18 pm on Dec 13, a story about the Warhol Foundation which supported Hide/Seek at the National Portrait Gallery is putting its money where its mouth is and is demanding that the excerpt of “Fire in the Belly” by David Wojnarowicz that was removed in an act of censorship based on the homophobic bleating of the Catholic League, an organization of 1 person that is not actually associated with the Catholic church.  The Warhol Foundation will no longer fund the Smithsonian (which the National Portrait Gallery is a part of) if the work isn’t reinstated.  The museum will not be reinstating the work, therefore they will no longer be receiving funds from the Warhol Foundation.  Good for the foundation.  They are encouraging other funders to follow suit.  I hope they do.

And then what do we have at 345pm?

A story about how the great Jeffrey Deitch former owner of Deitch Projects and other galleries, now the director of the LA Museum of Contemporary Art has censored the work of a graffiti artist named Blu, again for a real world equivalent of adjacency, the work carries an anti-war message and faces a veterans care center and a monument to Japanese-American WWII soldiers.  The work was deemed “inappropriate”.

Let’s see how much shit this story stirs up, I’d suspect less, even though in this case, the work is not just being censored, it’s being destroyed.


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