Museo Jumex, an art museum that opened in Mexico City in 2013, is embroiled in its first controversy as an institution. Barely a week away from the opening of an exhibit featuring the works of Austrian artist Hermann Nitsch, Museo Jumex canceled it, claiming that the art would be too disturbing for citizens to look at.
Nitsch is known for his controversial art (blood; crucifixes; a disemboweled sheep) which is fine and is art that should be exhibited wherever curators choose to exhibit it. If a museum decides not to exhibit that art, that's also fine. Their choice. But to have a museum say that they will show the art, and then to say that they won't is pure cowardice. In fact, it sounds a lot like censorship. Just show the art. People don't have to actually go if they find it too disturbing. Not your problem, museum.
The Times has a report on the decision to cancel the exhibit, wherein Patrick Charpenel, the president of the museum's adjacent foundation says that the cancelation came as a reaction to recent bloodshed in Mexico.
Cuauhtémoc Medina, a Mexican curator and art critic, said he could not recall an occasion in recent decades when a Mexican museum canceled a show because of fear of controversy, adding, "There's a lack of seriousness in an institution that — just because it has private funding — forgets that it has a responsibility to the public."
The Jumex museum is backed by private funding from the Grupo Jumex juice fortune, and is showing works from the private collection of Eugenio López Alonso, the heir of the fortune. The Times reports that "decisions are sometimes influenced by Eugenio López Rodea, the Grupo Jumex founder and father of the collector, according to people who know the younger Mr. López."
Charpenel told the Times that they were concerned about "political and social times Mexico is going through." Works were reportedly already being transported from Austria to Mexico by boat when the foundation called off the exhibit. But there is an opportunity for Mexicans to see Nitsch's work still:
Mr. Nitsch, who also writes cacophonous musical scores, said that Mexicans would still get a chance to sample his work at a performance of his new "Symphony for Mexico," which will be played at the Ex Teresa Museum on Friday.
At least some institutions aren't in favor of censorship.
[Image via AP]