The City of Troy, New York, "Where Henry Hudson Turned Around."

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Day Two of our Salute to Free Speech!

The events that followed the Bilal exhibit's exile to the Sanctuary for Independent Media are far more interesting than the preface and perhaps, just perhaps, constitute the actual performance.

A extensive timeline of recent events is offered here.

The exhibit was to open on Monday, March 10, 2008.

Bob Mirch, the City of Troy DPW Commissioner, Rensselaer County Legislator and Bruno Constituent liaison (thus completing a Holy Trinity of public sector employment) organized a protest of the exhibit. Mirch explained his opposition to the exhibit:

"It's the similarity and dissonance between Bilal and Masaccio: The creation of ideal space, the use of line and silhouette. Sure, there is dramatic tension but Bilal has flipped the tables on Ghiberti's exploitation of his idea of pictorial perspective by abandoning his own perspective in favor of dramatic movement and expression alone. It may not bother you but it chills me to the bone."

We applaud Mr. Mirch for exercising his Constitutional rights. We also applaud the counter-protest that was organized. We would, however, draw the line at a counter-counter protest as it would be redundant.

On Monday evening, the protesters protested, the exhibit viewers viewed the exhibit and Troy demonstrated how a functioning Democracy works. Obviously, that situation couldn't last.

The day after the showing, the Sanctuary received a phone call from Ministry of Art and Culture. You can hear the message at the Sanctuary's website ( see above) as well as the less-than-enthusiastic voice of the Ministry employee.

As explained by Jeff Buell:

The building has not been closed. It remains open. Steve Pierce has been sent a letter from the Code Department explaining that there is a life safety issue related to the doors on the building, and that the City does not want large crowds gathering until the problem is fixed. This issue was brought to our attention by people that saw the media reports on the display Monday evening. Again, the building itself has not been shut down.

The Sanctuary is not closed. People just can't assemble at the Sanctuary. Thank God for those alert "media report" viewers. Alas, that such viewers weren't around when the Hindenburg took flight. The humanity!

After the protest, the anti-Bilal protesters broke up into discussion groups to address a variety of topics:

1) The use of light and shadow in "You Can Paint Too, 2nd Edition" or "Why are those Numbers so Damn Small." and

2) Realism and Irony in the works of C.M. Coolidge, or "Dogs Playing Poker is Funny."

And Tonight:

A demonstration has been called for this Tuesday, March 18th, at 5:30
in front of Troy City Hall, One Monument Square, Troy, in support of the
Sanctuary for Independent Media and against the abuse of public power to
suppress art and dissent. The protest, which is being organized by a new
ad hoc group calling itself the Capital Region Committee for Free
Expression, will demand:

1. Stop Abuse of Code Enforcement Power
2. Reopen the Sanctuary for Independent Media
3. End Racist Fear-mongering
4. No Censorship of Art and Dissent

The protest is being called in response to Troy Code
Enforcement' s shutting down of the Sanctuary for Independent Media
last Tuesday, the day after the showing of a controversial art exhibit

Given the condition of City Hall and it's environs this demonstration may be canceled in order to save lives.

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