The Manifest Equality show kicks off this week in LA and will run from March 3rd through the 7th. I was invited to exhibit in the show after having exhibited in the Manifest Hope show during the Democratic National Convention. Manifest Equality’s focus is encouraging the equalization of civil rights for the gay community. It’s an issue I have strong feelings about. It’s my opinion, and you can call this liberal or whatever you like that under the constitution as citizens, so long as we are not breaking the law we should have equal rights to pursue happiness however we see fit. If there is any one group in this country, a supposed ‘free’ country who does not have those equal rights, then it is a threat to the rights of all the people and any other group could be singled out to have their rights revoked. This falls outside of the moral spectrum and lives in the realm of the private life. Sexuality and the expression of sexuality as well as the pursuit of relationships should be the right of every free person under a democratic state.

The original posters I created focused on a particular part of the male anatomy that I see as the central problem in the gay rights equation. The minute this bit of anatomy rears it’s head (yes, a pun is intended) is the minute everyone ruffles and loses their nerve. I am a married hetrosexual man who was raised in a very small town in Nebraska in a conservative household, but I have never understood this. I am not bothered by this part of the anatomy or what people choose to do with it. So I decided to put that right out front and make people have to face it head on (again, pun intended) and spend a moment thinking why it makes people so uncomfortable. Unfortunately, the posters (which I went to the trouble of having 100 screen printed and shipped to LA) were rejected on the grounds of being ‘too graphic’ and controversial for display.

Needless to say, I was very disappointed and lashed out by sending some angry emails Shepard Fairey and Ron English’s way. It was a snap judgement that I should have considered before jumping to and Fairey wasn’t very happy with my email. In retrospect, I know there is a time and place for everything. After speaking at length with the show organizer Yosi Sergant, I realized this just wasn’t the right place to be hanging a giant red, white and blue prick. Shepard Fairey remarked that I should ‘take it to the streets’ and maybe he is right. My point was that I felt some of the work should be provocative and angry in tone if this really is a ‘civil rights issue’. I think as a nation we have grown far too apathetic and just ‘accept’ a lot of the laws handed down to us by our government. Our government works for us. We do not work for them. If you want change in this country, you have to get out there knock on the Whitehouse door and say, ‘we the American public, want this to change now!’

So, I revised my work and created a new poster, which you can see at the top of this post that will now be exhibited at the show. It turned out alright, but I still think it lacks the teeth of the original posters which were really created to provoke the issue as a political one that begs a public outcry. I decided not to attend the show after losing out on my investment in printing the posters, but I do wish all the artists exhibiting the very best of luck, and I will be hoping the show is a huge success. It will be interesting to see the rest of the artists work from the show once images begin to hit the web. If you are in LA, the show opens Wednesday from 11am until 6pm at 1341 Vine Street. If you can be there, I wouldn’t miss this one. It should be a thought provoking event, and might I suggest standing outside and waiving one of my posters in the air?

written by Christopher | tags: , , , ,

18 Responses to “Manifest Equality”

  1. Matt Says:

    Awww, too bad man.

    What kind of “art shows” are they if they are fucking pussies to show some provocative stuff.

    I can’t believe the art world would censor itself as well.

    Fuck them.

  2. Christopher Says:

    That was my first reaction but I dialed it back after speaking with the host of the exhibition. They are having a sit in with elementary school children and the mayor of LA is attending. Like I said, not the right environment I guess for a big red, white and blue prick.

  3. Matt Says:

    Jeez, I agree children are important but can’t they have their own little art exhibitions with the cute fluffy stuff and leave the serious things for adults?

    It’s what’s wrong on so many of these blogs nowadays, they post and promote all the pretty eye-candy stuff to please everybody but rarely anything thought provoking.

  4. Christopher Cox Says:

    It’s kind of what is wrong in general with the popular art and design scene these days. It leaves you wanting for a little meaning and purpose. That was part of what I went off on with Shepard Fairey, but it’s kind of like the pot calling the kettle black because more often then not, I am guilty of the same kind of thing.

  5. Matt Says:

    Well this is just my opinion and comment but you know fuck Shepard Fairy.

  6. antimatt Says:

    while i think it’s BS that the original designs were rejected.. I do prefer the “safer” design. I have mixed feelings about the original. I understand the concept and the frustration (almost animosity?) they show, but I’m not sure I would want to portray my desire to be treated equally through that imagery. just my 2 cents.
    Toning shit down is still a bummer though.

  7. Matt Says:

    antimatt (cute), it’s not about what you feel about the original it’s about the designers or artists viewpoint. It has the right to be there if the art exhibition is interested in the designers / artists work and should not be censoring the piece itself because it’s afraid of what people might think. That is the whole point after all of art, some people might agree, some not but sometimes if you don’t piss off a few people with your work you’re doing something wrong. Art should be thought provoking and provocative sometimes.

  8. Matt Says:

    Btw Christopher, would you mind putting this entry on top of the blog? I’d love to have a little longer debate here with other people, designers and artists on this subject matter before this entry gets lost behind by other posts.

  9. antimatt Says:

    I totally agree with you on that. I was mostly just stating that as a gay male, even I found the boner-bird a little offensive and vauge. It came across as “fuck you, respect me” when I saw it.
    Im not saying I think Christopher shouldn’t have made it.. I think I agree with S.F. though that it’s more suited for the streets, where people can hopefully see it and have that pissed off reaction. The pissed off reaction (in my opinion) isn’t going to go real far in an art gallery.
    (ps, i’ve used the moniker “antimatt” for years.. I have nothing against people named matt. some of my best friends are named matt.)

  10. allen Says:

    I love all the “in a democratic society” justification. In a democratic society the majority rules so banning personal freedoms becomes the norm. There are people both liberal and conservative putting up with a lot of crap because of the democratic majority. Now, if we actually believed in what we are which is a Republic, then you might find that personal freedoms are harder to take away or regulate through legislation. As far as banning the penis posters from the show I say that’s lame, and if they’re afraid of what kids might think then maybe they shouldn’t be allowing kids into an art show that is about freedom of sexuality.

  11. Christopher Cox Says:

    Oh man, I knew I was playing with fire on this one.

    Well, ‘FU respect me’ is precisely what I was trying to say. And I did mean to offend. That was definitely the intention. Democratic, Republic, Republican, whatever, I just think if we have civil rights in this country they should extend to everyone, equally. The fact they don’t, in my opinion is grounds for creating something that says ‘FU respect my rights’.

  12. Matt Says:

    I wish more people played with fire instead of being domesticated pussies.

  13. Christopher Cox Says:

    Hahahah. That made me laugh. Well, get out there and go for it man. Grab the torch.

  14. gemma Says:

    These posters getting rejected by the show is a testament to the power of the message behind them. In my daily flood of design inspiration, I have been more and more disappointed with the same passivity of pretty pictures that lack any thought or meaning. These stopped me in my blog-scanning tracks. These don’t belong in an art gallery for a select crowd of elite LA scenies to snub at. They belong out in the public’s face – on the streets. I couldn’t agree more with your passionate beliefs on this subject, which you have captured brilliantly.

    I want to see those posters all over Denver. I admire your balls, Chris.

  15. Matt Says:

    Please Christopher put this on top of the other posts and let it stay for a day for all the fucking trendy blogs out there that start to look like clones of each other posting the same bullshit over and over.

  16. Christopher Says:

    Matt, sorry man. I honestly have no idea how to move it to the top of the blog once it has been posted. I don’t want to move it and potentially delete all of these comments.

  17. Matt Says:

    Then why don’t you delete the other posts and post them later again?

  18. Christopher Says:

    Gemma, I guess if you are going to pick something to be admired…

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