Barron Mapplethorpe High Res, FotoFocus Cincinnati
Copyright Jeannette Montgomery Barron, "Robert Mapplethorpe," 1987, Courtesy of ClampArt, New York City

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Announcing the Mapplethorpe + 25 Symposium

Posted on May 19, 2015

FotoFocus and the Contemporary Arts Center Present Mapplethorpe + 25

A symposium at the Contemporary Arts Center on October 23 and 24, 2015, to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Moment

If you wish to attend Mapplethorpe + 25, please use this Eventbright page to RSVP to all portions of the two-day symposium you plan to attend: RSVP for Mapplethorpe + 25 on Eventbrite

For more details on the symposium, visit the Mapplethorpe + 25 website.

FotoFocus and the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC) in Cincinnati, Ohio, are pleased to announce a symposium on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Robert Mapplethorpe’s controversial exhibition, The Perfect Moment. Under the leadership of Mary Ellen Goeke, Executive Director of FotoFocus; Raphaela Platow, Director of Contemporary Arts Center; and curated by Kevin Moore, Artistic Director of FotoFocus, the program will include an international roster of curators, critics, artists, and art world professionals who will meet for a two-day event on October 23 and 24, 2015, at the CAC, to discuss the significance and implications of the exhibition and Mapplethorpe’s career and legacy as these have evolved over the past 25 years.

Friday, October 23

6:00pm Reception with Light Bites and Cash Bar

7:00pm Keynote Lecture by Germano Celant, Independent Curator, Milan–New York with Live Feed

8:45pm Reception and Party Hosted by KNOW WAVE

Saturday, October 24

9:00am Breakfast Reception

10:00am Welcome and Overview

10:30am Panel: The Exhibition, The Contemporary Arts Center, and Arts Censorship
Moderated by Raphaela Platow, Director, Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, with panelists: Dennis Barrie, Principal, Barrie Projects, and former Contemporary Arts Center Director, Cleveland; Jock Reynolds, Director, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven; and H. Louis Sirkin, Senior Counsel, Santen & Hughes, and former trial counsel to Dennis Barrie and the Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati; and Michael Ward Stout, President, The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, New York

11:30am Comment by Robert Reid-Pharr, Professor, The Graduate Center, The City University of New York

12:00pm Panel: The Artist’s Circle and Studio
Moderated by Philip Gefter, Author and Photo Historian, New York, with panelists: Judy Linn, Artist, New York; Robert Sherman, Promoter and Host, Chateau Marmont, Los Angeles; and Carol Squiers, Curator, International Center of Photography, New York

1:30pm Panel: Curators Curate Mapplethorpe
Moderated by Kevin Moore, Artistic Director and Curator, FotoFocus, New York, with panelists: Jennifer Blessing, Senior Curator of Photography, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Paul Martineau, Associate Curator, Department of Photographs, The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; and Britt Salvesen, Curator, Wallis Annenberg Photography Department, Los Angeles County Museum of Art

3:00pm Closing Keynote by Catherine Opie, Artist and Professor of Photography, University of California, Los Angeles

4:00pm Oral History Reception at the 21c Museum Hotel
Hosted by Sarah Douglas, Editor-In-Chief, ARTnews, New York. Visitors are invited to share their stories of the 1990 Mapplethorpe exhibition, reflect on its impact, and comment on issues raised in the symposium.

Program subject to change

About the Symposium

Robert Mapplethorpe:The Perfect Moment opened on April 7, 1990, at the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati in a climate of national cultural unrest. The exhibition immediately sparked controversy when politicians took offense to the show and the use of public funds provided by the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) to support it, leading to the indictment of the CAC and Director Dennis Barrie on obscenity charges. Similar controversy had resulted in the cancellation of the exhibition tour at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the previous year. The historic trial that followed–where for the first time a museum and its director faced criminal charges because of an art exhibition–brought national attention to the subject of public funding for the arts, as well as arts censorship.

Twenty-five years later, numerous reassessments of the artist’s career have prompted fresh insights. The symposium, Mapplethorpe + 25, will revolve around this revitalized interest in Mapplethorpe as curators, artists, critics and others explore the broad question: what does Mapplethorpe’s work tell us about the culture we have inherited and inhabit today?

“With the 25th anniversary of Robert Mapplethorpe’s exhibition, we wanted to revisit the past as it is the basis of history; it reminds us of where we come from and who we have become,” says FotoFocus Artistic Director and Curator, Kevin Moore. “Mapplethorpe’s work rather ambitiously proposes a far-reaching idea of universalism, of timeless values common to all of humanity across myriad cultural geographies. Yet his work is also idiosyncratic, personal, of a particular historical moment-the politically conservative 1980s and the height of the AIDS crisis. To comprehend his work as both timeless and timely, as an amalgam of a perfect world and an imperfect moment, is to grasp the essential need to make art, to write history, and to contemplate both.”

“It’s remarkable that it has been 25 years since Mapplethorpe’s exhibition and the national uproar, and we are thrilled that the symposium is taking place right where it all started,” said Contemporary Arts Center Director Raphaela Platow. “Showcasing Mapplethorpe’s work elevated the CAC to a national platform as a place that fought for new projects and ideas. What many don’t realize is at the time, that was a very risky statement for an institution to make.”

About Robert Mapplethorpe

Robert Mapplethorpe was born in 1946 in Floral Park, Queens. He studied drawing, painting, and sculpture at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. Influenced by artists such as Joseph Cornell and Marcel Duchamp, he also experimented with various materials in mixed-media collages, including images cut from books and magazines. He eventually began producing his own photographs with a Polaroid camera and in 1973 received his first solo gallery exhibition titled “Polaroids” at the Light Gallery in New York City. Two years later he acquired a Hasselblad medium-format camera and began shooting his friends and acquaintances, some of which were involved in the New York S & M scene—by the late 1970s, he grew increasingly interested in documenting that scene. In 1986, he was diagnosed with AIDS. Despite his declining health, he continued to make strides in his career, including his first major American museum retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1988. Mapplethorpe passed away in 1989, but his legacy lives on through his work, which is represented by galleries and in the collections of major museums around the world.

Press Release as a PDF: Mapplethorpe + 25: A Symposium to Commemorate the 25th Anniversary of Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Moment Co-Presented by FotoFocus and the Contemporary Arts Center