The Jacir Debacle: Kudos to the Wichita State University and its Ulrich Museum for coming to its senses about the January exhibition of works by Emily Jacir. Jacir, a Palestinian whose dual citizenship allows her freedom to travel where others under occupation in Israel can't, creates poetic and human works about the restrictions on Palestinians, and the piece to be presented in Wichita appeared in the Istanbul and Whitney biennials. Jacir writes:
...The Jewish Federation of Kansas has put pressure on the University and the Museum so that they have been granted permission to place brochures and a sign in the gallery expressing their views concerning the politics of the Middle East. Actually, the University and Museum have no idea what text is contained in the brochures and what the posters are but have given them permission nonetheless.

This is a complete infringement on my right to free speech, not to mention an insult to me as an artist. It is intolerable that I have to go through this just because of my background. I am sure no other artist would accept to work under such conditions. They are placing a huge unnecessary burden on my exhibit with the presence of the brochures which are intended to silence or censor my work. I am shocked that they would place such conditions in a the space of a museum.

On the one hand they are allowing me to speak but on another they are trying to control my work by placing brochures, thereby contextualizing and framing my work in ways I have no control over. Not only is this an infringement to free speech but it also disturbs the integrity of my work...
However, as Joy Garnett reports, the University has backed down, allowing Jacir's work to be presented without recontextualization by the Jewish group (allegedly a rightwing group that supports Bush and has no actual Israeli members). Read all about it at NEWSgrist.

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