Censorship for None: An Analysis for American Cultural Progression from The Culture Wars to the Censorship of "Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture"
Morrison, Candace L.
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An act of censorship is never an isolated event. Censorship, whether explicit or implicit, is a highly effective means of asserting ideological control or influence in a multicultural society. In November 2010, a National Portrait Gallery exhibition, Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture was censored when one piece, the video A Fire in My Belly by American artist David Wojnarowicz, was removed from the gallery without discussion or debate. In this thesis, I analyzed the removal within the context of the ideological cultural struggle that has endured in the United States since the 1950s. My analysis is based on Michel Foucault's concepts of power relations, discourse and sexuality as he developed it in The History of Sexuality: Volume. I argue that the censorship of Hide/Seek marks a significant change in American culture as compared to the Culture Wars of the 1980s and 1990s. Culture is a field of manifestation, where power struggles erupt between groups causes culture to change and advance. This is shown by the debate over public funding for the arts, increasing acceptance of differing forms of public sexual expression, and changing views on morals legislation and other forms of implicit cultural control.