Fwd: The NEA Army bombs art!

Mike Brutvan (mjb39@cornell.edu)
Tue, 03 Mar 1998 13:45:07 -0500

>check the web site in here...
>---------- Forwarded message begins here ----------
>My performance art group made today's (2/26) Washington Post, and I
>thought I'd share our latest work with y'all. In solidarity,
> NEA Grant Proposal Looks Like a Bomb(er)
> Group Seeks $98 Million: The Agency's Entire Budget
> =20
> By Rick Weiss
> Washington Post Staff Writer
> Thursday, February 26, 1998; Page A13
> =20
> The chronically embattled National Endowment for the Arts, which
> barely survived a congressional death threat last year, is scheduled
> on Friday to complete its selection of this year's grantees.
> =20
> Will the agency support inflammatory projects like Robert
> Mapplethorpe's collection of homoerotic photographs that stirred such
> ire several years ago? Or will it approve a menu of mainstream
> creations that could leave the agency open to charges that it has
> capitulated to conservative Republicans?
> =20
> The NEA Army, a ragtag band of Seattle arts activists, offers a novel
> solution to the NEA's dilemma: The group has applied for a grant of
> $98 million -- the arts agency's entire annual budget.
> =20
> The group proposes using the money to model a $98 million piece of a
> B-2 Stealth bomber -- perhaps a piece of wing and a chunk of landing
> gear for the $2 billion aircraft, using actual hardware or paper mache
> and solid gold -- and then carry it across the country with a sign
> that says, simply, "PRIORITIES."
> =20
> NEA officials said they could not remember anyone ever having asked
> for the agency's entire budget -- unless one counts Rep. Newt Gingrich
> (R-Ga.), Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), Rep. Richard K. Armey (R-Tex.) and
> others in Congress who, in the wake of several controversial
> exhibitions funded by the NEA, have sought to transfer the agency's
> funds to programs that, in their opinion, are more deserving of
> government support, such as national defense.
> =20
> As a self-declared nexus of art and armament, the NEA Army hopes to
> bridge that gulf and show the world that opposing sides in this
> funding battle are not so far apart.
> =20
> "People who are against public funding for controversial art should
> realize that art doesn't have to be as scary as an interesting photo
> of Christ or a nude. It can be as tame as an instrument of mass
> destruction," deadpanned David Feit, the NEA Army's artistic director.
> =20
> Feit, a University of Washington graduate student in political and
> cultural geography and part-time singer of folk songs and opera, is
> one-fourth of the group's command. Other members are performance
> artist Dylan Clark; U.W. zoology graduate student and "ant
> pornographer" Jason Hodin (whose explicit but unsalacious photos of
> insect ovaries can be seen via a link from the group's Web site:
> http://weber.u.washington.edu/~hodin/NEAArmy/orgbgrd.htm
> and Tim Osumi, a musician with the band Stata-matic.
> =20
> "We're definitely serious about the grant," said Hodin, answering the
> question most frequently asked of the group. The plan is to drag the
> modicum of materiel from town to town across the country and then
> display it on the Washington Mall as a monument to late 20th century
> American ideals.
> =20
> "Art education is partly about opening people's minds about what art
> is and what it can mean to them, and one of the NEA's mandates is to
> make art more accessible to the public," Feit said. "This project
> would not only open access to a piece of construction that many have
> not had the opportunity to see, but would also allow people to see it
> as art."
> =20
> As with all art, Feit said, its meaning would be open to
> interpretation.
> =20
> "Some people may go the the mall and see it as a symbol of big
> government, while others might have contemplative moments about the
> ideals of American democracy," he said. "Some will see this as
> everything that's wrong with America today, others will see it as what
> makes America so great. Either way, it's America."
> =20
> NEA spokeswoman Cherie Simon said the grant proposal would be
> evaluated along with hundreds of others in the category of Creation
> and Presentation. Whatever its fate, Simon said, the application
> itself can be appreciated as a work of art.
> =20
> "Washington State is known for being a model for arts advocacy," Simon
> said, "but I must say this is a new and creative approach."
> =20
> Michele Davis, a spokeswoman for House majority leader Armey, said the
> Seattle proposal was unlikely to gain her boss's support.
> =20
> "His opposition to NEA funding has always been based on the general
> principle that the government shouldn't be deciding what is art and
> what isn't art," she said. "Whether it's glorifying nudity or
> glorifying military hardware doesn't really matter."
> =20
> Undaunted, the NEA Army has already begun to see just how much of a
> B-2 it might get for $98 million. Officials at Boeing and Northrop
> Grumman, the aircraft's primary contractors, have been friendly but
> ultimately unhelpful, Feit said. After discussions with an engineering
> professor, however, the group has come up with a few options. A
> segment of wing with landing gear might be perfect.
> =20
> "Just like anyone in their right mind buying a car wants to kick the
> tire to see if it's worth buying, the public could collectively kick
> the B-2 bomber's landing gear," Feit said. Besides, he added, for an
> exhibit that will literally be dragged across the country, "having
> something round and rollable would be a real asset."
> =20
> Feit said the group may apply again next year if it fails this time
> around, and would adjust its sights downward if Congress reduces the
> agency's budget.
> =20
> "The beauty of this monument is it derives its power from being a
> physical manifestation of the NEA budget," he said. "A reduced budget
> would only mean a more concise piece and a more pointed message."
> =20
> And what if conservatives get their way and kill the NEA altogether?
> =20
> "If that happened," Feit said, "we'd have the world's most stealthy
> monument for sure."
> =20
> =A9 Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company
> =20
mike brutvan -- cit-asdt -- 120 maple ave. -- rm. 132 -- 607-255-5510
mjb39@cornell.edu -- et cetera -- et cetera -- et cetera -- et cetera