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Another look at nudes

February 16, 2009

Re "Artist, sponsor face off on nudes," Feb. 10

Liza Simone, executive producer of Phantom Galleries L.A., defends her decision to bar abstract nudes from an art show by saying that "the public went bonkers when Janet Jackson revealed one nipple during a Super Bowl game."

In overturning the FCC's fine against CBS for the Super Bowl incident, the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals noted that 85% of the complaints received were "form complaints generated by single-interest groups ... with some individual complaints appearing in the record up to 37 times."

The public didn't go bonkers over Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson -- the outrage industry did. By repeating a myth, Simone gives credence to reactionary activist organizations that use a credulous media and spambots to police expression. She shouldn't pretend that actual adults care whether she displays artistic nudes.

Joshua Joy Kamensky

Los Angeles

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The rejection of two semi-abstract paintings from a planned public exhibition just because they were inspired by human bodies and thus contained (rather abstract) nipples damages the reputation of Phantom Galleries L.A. as a serious art program.

The level of philistinism needed to ban from display any hint of nudity is not only inappropriate in a 21st century art program, it is dangerous: If cultural institutions propagate that level of prudishness, the only bodies remaining to be seen in public will be the semi-clad icons of advertising, while Michelangelo and Picasso will be confined to some dark museum chamber.

Svetlana Mintcheva

New York

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