Times have changed...or, have they? Read an interesting letter to the Editor, that appeared in the New York Times 24 years ago, about this sculpture and its history. MacMonnies' sculpture is considered a landmark work because of its place in public history, social history, and art history. As someone who researches and promotes public art -- its past, present, and future -- I see this sculpture's relevance today wrapped into a tight matrix with its past. Someone's desire to move the work, or, in this case --the sale of that work to anyone -- does not necessitate action. The current debate focuses not on moving the sculpture to another location nor on its condition but on its sexist portrayal of women.
As we enter Women's History Month, I ask readers to consider what this proposed action really invites. Does it sanction taste? Does it censor? Does it foreground feminism as the concern in an effort to raise funds for a budget that has been depleted for months? Could the primary concern in this CraigsList Conundrum be activism? Consider the source...A quick wiki search reveals that Weiner was Jon Stewart's roommate in college, represents a multi-ethnic and diverse district in Brooklyn and Queens, and places his focus on concerns such as quality of life issues for his constituents. Read through the wiki info on him and you'll notice a dearth of activity related to public art and arts funding. And, yet, his CraigsList posting discloses his authority to judge an historic work of art by calling it "tasteless", "controversial", and "offensive." This action and the use of language, to me, at least, suggests that the posting serves as a knee-jerk reaction and activist motion with another agenda and, yet, I am not sure what the agenda is. The base thought of selling a work of public art on CraigsList brims with complication, confusion, and impropriety -- at least in my opinion. Or, should I use Weiner's own words about the sculpture against him? Was his act tasteless, controversial, and offensive? I'd be interested to read what you think.
BTW, photo credit: http://kewgardenshistory.com/ss-queensblvd/qb-0500-NL.html