Artist: Roberta Cohen
Confronting Bodies: Baton Rouge Recreation and Park Commission, a local community member.
Date of Action: 1994
Specific Location: Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Description of Artwork: One drawing, called "Confronting your Fears," features a male figure with an erect penis strangling a woman. The other, "The Telephone Call," shows two birdlike figures, a male and female, lying in bed together while another male figure flies through the room. The drawing are meant to protest family violence and investigate gender roles and social identities.
Description of Incident: The Baton Rouge Gallery is a cooperative gallery where local artists are allowed to become members of the gallery and exhibit their work. The gallery has had a contract with the Baton Rouge Recreation and Park Commission to use it's facilities for exhibits, for which the Commission has no curatorial control. A community member complained about Cohen's works, and after reviewing "Confronting your Fears" and "The Telehone Call," Baton Rouge Recreation and Park Commissioner, Bill Elam, stated that the pieces were "not something that normal people should be viewing." The Gallery Director, Kathleen Sunderman, and other artists refused to remove their works. The gallery was closed and the artists dimantled the exhibit.
Results of Incident: The exhibit was closed entirely and the ACLU helped the artists file a lawsuit claiming the abridgement of First Amendment rights. The lawsuit is still pending.
Source: Artistic Expression Under Attack, 1995
Submitted By: NCAC