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The New School Launches 'How Obscene is this?' Program on Arts Funding this Sept.

On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Congressional decision to require the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to consider "general standards of decency and respect" in awarding grants, the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) presents How Obscene is This?, a program about censorship and arts funding.

The program includes panel discussions, organized in collaboration with The Vera List Center for Art and Politics at The New School (VLC), and film screenings co-sponsored by the BFA Visual and Critical Studies Department at the School of Visual Arts (SVA).

Among the questions the series will explore are: what do "standards of decency and respect" mean in today's increasingly diverse society? What effect does the constriction of NEA funding and the timidity of publicly funded art institutions have on art production in the U.S.? What alternatives has shrinking funding generated? What is it that provokes controversy today?

Two panels of prominent artists, non-profit arts organization directors, art dealers, and founders of alternative spaces will examine these questions. Laura Flanders of GritTV moderates both panels.

Wednesday, September 15th - 6:30 to 8:30 pm
Panel 1: Survival vs. Autonomy: Public Funding of the Arts, Free Speech and Self-Censorship
The New School's Tishman Auditorium, 66 West 12th St.

Participants include: Bill Ivey, Director of the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise, and Public Policy and former chair of the NEA (1998-2001); Nato Thompson, Chief Curator at Creative Time, author of Seeing Power: Socially Engaged Art in the Age of Cultural Production; Beka Economopoulos, activist and founder of Not an Alternative and The Change You Want to See Gallery, an alternative space in Brooklyn; and Martha Wilson, performance artist and founding director of Franklin Furnace Archive.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010 - 6:30 to 8:30 pm
Panel 2: Decency, Respect and Community Standards: What Offends Us Now?
The New School's Tishman Auditorium, 66 West 12th St.

Participants include: Wafaa Bilal, Iraqi American artist, whose installation Virtual Jihadi was censored by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; Carolee Schneemann, filmmaker and visual artist who has battled censorship for the last 50 years; Holly Hughes, performance artist, one of the NEA4. More panelists to be announced.

Monday, September 27th, 6:30 PM
Indecent Exposure: A Discussion and Screening of Films You Are Unlikely to See Elsewhere
SVA Theatre, 333 West 23 Street

NCAC presents a double bill of groundbreaking films and a discussion with some of the filmmakers (panel in formation):

6:30 - Produced by Neville Wakefield and never before screened in the US, Destricted (new2006) is a compilation of shorts by visual artists Matthew Barney, Marilyn Minter, Richard Prince, Cecily Brown and Sam Taylor-Wood and others, exploring the boundaries between art and porn. The film is one of the most controversial and sexually explicit films ever to receive a rating in the UK. This is an exclusive pre-release screening, including 2 shorts that will not be released. (

8:30 - Larry Clark's Ken Park (2002) is a film about the abusive home life of several skateboarders in California. Its controversial sexual content has led to the film being banned in Australia and to its very limited distribution in other countries. This film has not been theatrically released or distributed in the US.

For more information about the program, please visit

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