Art history, flag politics and censorship, oh my! Read Svetlana's op-ed in the Guardian on how a successful component of a college credit art history class at McCracken County High School in Paducah, Kentucky has been cancelled because of a controversy provoked by an art installation involving the United States flag:
…The furor over what was simply a students' recreation of a 1989 piece by Dread Scott raises grave questions about the extent to which schools can, do or should censor educational assignments in fear of political pressure.
To engage her students in a reading about the history of art, a teacher set various assignments for which one option was to exhibit a restaging of an artwork accompanied by an infographic. The students chose that last option and recreated one of Jasper Johns' flag pieces, a work featuring the flag by Faith Ringgold, and Scott's "What is the Proper Way to Display a US Flag?"
All of these works were, at some point, controversial, but the showdown at McCracken focused on the Dread Scott piece: this was an audience-participation installation that features a montage of images of flag-draped coffins and South Korean students burning US flags, a response book, and a flag laid on the ground. Audience members are given the choice of stepping or not stepping on the flag as they write in the response book.
For the 30 minutes the Dread Scott restaging was on display in the school hallway, the students in the class responded to questions and engaged their peers in a lively discussion. Soon after, however, the assistant principal, accompanied by a student, removed the flag, thus dismantling the installation.