Friday, December 5, 2014

Racism-Themed Public Artwork Removed from University of Iowa Campus Following Complaints

Multimedia artist Serhat Tanyolacar received a lot of attention here in Iowa City when he displayed a sculpture of a KKK member on the University of Iowa Pentacrest earlier today:
(It was) a 7-foot-tall sculpture in the form of a member of Ku Klux Klan, but the robe displayed photos and texts from a century's worth of newspapers describing some of the most horrific scenes of racial violence in U.S. history. Inside was a camera recording the reactions of passers-by.
Tanyolacar's intent was to "raise awareness of racism throughout the country."

The statue was put up at 7:00 AM and quickly prompted numerous complaints to the UI. University of Iowa officials quickly asked Tanyolacar to remove the statue from the Pentacrest, which he did by 10:30 AM. The UI issued the following statement:
The University of Iowa is a diverse community with no tolerance for racism, and the artwork that was briefly displayed on the Pentacrest this morning was deeply offensive to members of our community. Because it was placed without permission, university officials directed the visiting artist who created it to remove it, which he did.

The University of Iowa considers all forms of racism abhorrent and is deeply committed to the principles of inclusion and acceptance. There is no room for divisive, insensitive, and intolerant displays on this campus. The display was not approved by nor sanctioned by the university. The UI respects freedom of speech, but the university is also responsible for ensuring that public discourse is respectful and sensitive.
Personally, I really want to see some of the footage from the hidden camera.

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