Region: North America
Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion, Explicit Sexuality, Sexual/Gender Orientation
Artist: Kathy Constantinides
Confronting Bodies: Anonymous censors, Anonymous complainant, and State Representative Margaret O'Conner
Dates of Action: April 23 - Aug. 21, 1990
Location: University of Michigan Hospitals, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Description of Artwork(s):
- Transmission (Moving People. April 23- May 14,1990. Mixed media; 8' x 12' x 6'): Installation framing AIDS as an epidemic of signification and offering information, resources and free condoms.
- Don't Go Too Far Without One (Mixed media sampler. 12.75 x 16.75 x 1.5. Element of installation).
The Incident: Early in the exhibition, Gary Smith, the Art Coordinator of the U-M Hospitals, told me that free condoms provided in the installation appeared to be repeatedly disappearing at a rate indicating bulk removal; we assumed this to be a protest action, as he had received several complaints about the installation's forthrightness. He eventually stopped replenishing the basket. During take down of the installation, I noted that someone had tampered with the sampler's hanging device. Smith's assistant revealed that someone had removed it and Smith had subsequently reinstalled it. I was never notified. I inquired of Smith, who stated that a person offended by the sampler had removed it; Smith learned of this and re-hung the sampler 20 minutes later. Smith refused to reveal names of this person or any protester. He agreed to deliver a blind letter , which I wrote to these people. I also wrote a letter to the Hospitals' Executive Director. Gary Smith provided me with a copy of an article about the installation that appeared in a June 30 issue of a Family Values news letter; this had probably inspired the complaint to the representative.
Results of Incident: In early August, the aide to a state representative called me to inquire if any federal monies had supported my installation, asked her who had complained and explained the intimidating import of her action but got nowhere. I requested that Representative O'Conner herself call me; she did,and I complained about and explained the ramifications of the coercion, again to no real effect. I requested that she send me a letter outlining the situation and making an apology for using the power of her office for intimidation. She sent a brief, entirely unsatisfactory letter.
Source: Kathy Constantinides, Ann Arbor, MI (Material on file: Verbal statements. Telephone calls from State Representative. Letters. Article in Washtenaw Family, June 1990, Vol. 2, No.4 ( a Family values newsletter).