Tag Archives: Bilal

Stand up to the College Republicans, please

Dear President Shirley Jackson:
I was disheartened to learn of the censoring of artist Wafaa Bilal’s
exhibition project at RPI, Virtual Jihadi.
Mr. Bilal is a highly regarded artist whose work questions the overwrought
tropes of ‘good’ and ‘evil,’ especially as deployed during wartime, and,
even more particularly, in the light of warmaking based on pretenses that
demonstrably have been proven false. His is serious and necessary work.
A number of the news accounts I have read cite either Bob Mirch, a local GOP
functionary, or the leader of the campus College Republicans, Ken Girardin,
as voices demanding closure of the show. I must ask, who are these people to
demand that an *artwork* be censored? Might they not have a political
agenda, given our ugly national condition after nearly eight years of firm
GOP political leadership?
I am sorry you have to undergo this storm of controversy. On the other hand,
I urge you to embrace the situation, stand up to these transparently
political attacks, and declare yourself and your institution the protectors
of freedom. You will have the support and gratitude of artists, researchers,
workers, and intellectuals the world over.
Sincerely,
Dan S. Wang
Madison, Wisconsin, USA

Re: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Declines to Reopen Exhibit

Dear Professor Walker,

I deeply regret the decision put forth in your message below. I understand your concerns and yet I feel that my concern for freedom in America is not respected with this decision.

” Rensselaer fully supports academic and artistic freedom. We respect the
rights of all members of the Rensselaer community and their guests to
express their opinions and viewpoints.”

This statement does not ring true due to the decision made and the method used to carry it out.

As a member of the Arts Department at Rensselaer I do stand firmly in opposition to this action and opinion. Further it is clearly against your concerns and interests that you have caused undue publicity in the media by your actions and decision that is traveling rapidly throughout the world and bringing massive attention to the artist, the video game and the Arts Department.

There is no help for that attention now. How the story and inevitable distortions of the truth will play out remains to be seen as the reverberation continues.

Hopefully the truth will prevail.

Sincerely,

PO

On Mon, Mar 10, 2008 at 4:29 PM, Walker, William N. <walkew2@rpi.edu> wrote:

After extensive and careful deliberation and consideration of the
origin, content, and intent of the “Virtual Jihadi” video game exhibit
by digital media artist Wafaa Bilal, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
has decided not to reopen the exhibit on the Troy campus. The decision was based on numerous concerns, including, in particular two characteristics of the video game in the exhibit, as affirmed by the artist: First, that the video game in the exhibit is derived from the product of a terrorist organization; and second, that the video game is targeted to and suggests the killing of the President of the United States.

Rensselaer fully supports academic and artistic freedom. We respect the rights of all members of the Rensselaer community and their guests to express their opinions and viewpoints. However, as stewards of a private university, we have the right and, indeed, the responsibility to ensure that university resources are used in ways that are in the overall best interests of the institution.

William N. Walker
Vice President for Strategic Communications and External Relations