Italian street artist Blu, who also happens to be one of my favorite contemporary animators, was commissioned by LA’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) to paint a mural on one of the museum’s walls. The mural, which depicted wooden caskets draped with dollar bills, proved to be too contemporary for the museum and they whitewashed it (literally!) less than 24 hours after it was completed.
Los Angeles Downtown News offered details about the situation:
[Blu] was on the scene as a crew began to paint over the work, and he was not pleased, said Daniel Lahoda, a street art advocate who curates the L.A. Freewalls Project and was in Little Tokyo to document the whitewashing. “He was here this morning, taking pictures,” Lahoda said. “He was [angry].”
MOCA has provided just about the lamest response imaginable: “Directly in front the north wall is the Go For Broke monument, which commemorates the heroic roles of Japanese American soldiers, who served in Europe and the Pacific during World War II, and opposite the wall is the LA Veterans’ Affairs Hospital. The museum’s director explained to Blu that in this context, where MOCA is a guest among this historic Japanese American community, the work was inappropriate.”
Unurth, a street art blog, tore into that rationale, writing that, “This is a terrible explanation. The concept that street art and graffiti must be ‘appropriate’, to the point of not making political statements, is absurd and contrary to the history of the medium.”
The most embarrassing aspect of this is that MOCA is opening a show next Spring about street art. Too bad it’s now going to be viewed as a joke by many of the artists it was supposed to be celebrating and promoting.
Here’s a video of Blu’s painting being whitewashed: