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In Case You Were Wondering Where the Political Art Has Gone…

…it’s over at the Tate Britain, London. Maev Kennedy reports in the Guardian about that museum’s current “State Britain” exhibition:
Lawyers for the Tate pored over the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act before artist Mark Wallinger recreated a spectacular anti-war protest from Parliament Square, filling the stately Duveen galleries which mostly lie within the exclusion zone banning such demonstrations.
Visitors are now greeted by more than 600 tattered banners, placards and posters denouncing Tony Blair and George Bush as mass murderers over the Iraq war.
Another shows the prime minister, chancellor Gordon Brown and former foreign secretary Jack Straw about to wash their hands in basins of blood.

And so on…
Director Stephen Deuchar said this was probably most overtly political piece ever displayed at his institution. For images, go here and here.
Can you imagine such an exhibition being mounted today by a major museum in the U.S.? I can’t. Here, museums address the war in Iraq, if at all, by indirection. Is it fear of offending major donors and government grantmakers that makes them apolitical? Or are they simply reflecting the lack of political consciousness among American artists?

an ArtsJournal blog