After commissioning a mural for the football-field-sized wall of MOCA’s Geffen Contemporary building, MOCA director Jeffrey Deitch ordered that the mural be painted over this week. The story contains some interesting facts – a few: a) the decision to cover up the mural was made by Deitch alone (and not based on any complaints); b) the subject of the mural, which was apparently not known before its execution, was considered by Deitch to be potentially offensive because of the proximity to the Veterans Administration Hospital and the Japanese American war memorial; c) MOCA went through a similar mural-censorship controversy in 1989; and d) the artist involved in that controversy, Barbara Kruger, now sits on the MOCA board of trustees.
The artist of the mural, Blu, considers this censorship. Christopher Knight of the LA Times places the blame pretty squarely on Deitch’s shoulders, and emphasizes the differing responsibilities of public and private institutions in regard to controversy and public response, and reckons some planning and communication could have avoided this mess.
It’s a still-evolving story – stay tuned.