Part I: Controversial Artworks
“Kimono Wednesdays” Program Controversial Debate Summary
Kimono Wednesdays, an event that used to be held by The Boston Museum of Fine Arts was cancelled on grounds of racism. However, the museum started this particular event to engage people with different works of art. It had particularly been created to showcase Claude Monet’s “La Japonaise” (1876) painting. During the event, the guests were asked to put a kimono resembling the one on the painting. Even though the organizers sole purpose was to allow the visitors to enjoy the experience using the kimonos that had been made in Japan, the outcome was not expected. According to majority of the visitors, this particular act was perceived as one that was exoticizing Asian Americans. From the first day of the event, there were protests with the protestors cursing the museum for promoting racism. The protest grew from the event to social media whereby Facebook pages were created to advocate against the event. After seeing that things were getting out of hand, the museum withdrew the event and offered an apology (Rodney, 2015).
According to the proponents of the Kimono Wednesdays event, the museum had not promoted any racist vices. Most of the counter-protestors noted that there is nothing wrong when people who are not Japanese to wear a Kimono. They also added that it is not a bad thing to showcase a painting by Monet and ask visitors to try mimic the painting by wearing kimonos. Some of the critiques questioned why the museum chose to hold an event with a French painting then ask visitors to wear kimonos. Many noted that it would have been better if the MFA would have conducted an event in line with Hokusai exhibit which was also going on at the time. The perception of the protestors was that the choice of kimonos was fostering the trend of displaying Asian culture through then lens of the western culture (Seikatsu, N.p).
From these controversial debate, it is apparent that the controversy was an issue of whether the event represented cultural appropriation or cultural appreciation. Cultural appropriation scenario takes place when a dominant culture uses elements of a minority culture that is presumed to be marginalized. In this particular event, the event was being largely organized by Americans who represented the dominant culture and elements of Asian culture who are considered a marginalized and minority groups were used. The protestors considered the event to promote culture appropriation since the kimonos were not used according to the original meaning. Moreover, the wearing of kimonos by people from western culture seemed to be reinforcing racism stereotypes.
The subject of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) has been a controversial one for quite some time now. This exhibition proposal suggests holding an art exhibition event that will display issues surrounding the LGBTQ community. In the event, LGBTQ themed arts will be presented. Even though the LGBTQ community has fought so hard for a long time to attain equality, the concept is still not widely accepted in the society. Therefore, conducting such an event without involving the public and both parties will bring about controversies such as the one witnessed during the Kimono Wednesdays event.
During the event, some of the artworks that can be showcased including arts involving people of same sex, suggestive gay art works, transgender seminude artworks among other LGBTQ artworks. The main theme of the exhibition will be normalizing LGBTQ community in the society. Therefore, everyone in the public domain will be invited to the event. Also, visitors can be encouraged to dress in gay related outfits.
Even though this theme might be informative, it is certain that it will receive mixed reactions from both parties. Some LGBTQ members might consider the event inappropriate considering the fact that they were not involved in the preparation. Also, some might consider the event demeaning for them and suggest that the event promotes cultural appropriation. For a long period of time, the gay community which is minority in the society has been marginalized. Therefore, lack of appropriate arrangement can result to misunderstandings and critiques.
On the other hand, straight people might consider the event inappropriate especially if it will be advertised and broadcasted in the mainstream media. Despite the fact that LGBTQ has been constitutionally accepted, majority of the people in America and other parts of the world have still not accepted its legalization.
Rodney, Seph. "The Confused Thinking Behind The Kimono Protests At The Boston Museum Of Fine Arts". Hyperallergic, 2015, .
Seikatsu, Kimono. "Views Of Kimono Wednesdays From A Counter-Protester". Kimono Seikatsu, 2016, https://kimonoseikatsu.weebly.com/kimono-blog/views-of-kimono-wednesday-from-a-counter-protester.