It seems that The Flag is in the news again. I wouldn't normally pay attention these stories, but as a reenactor, it's always good to keep pace with what is being put in front of the public. This time, it's the Confederate flag as a piece of art, but seen in a negative light. What's new, huh?
If you invite the controversy, you better be willing to deal with the fall out.
To be honest, I don't find fault with the artist, John Sims. He's happened on a project that is interesting in the social circles that I assume he's used to dealing with. I do find some of his show's concepts interesting as a fellow artist-type, but other aspects of the show I don't agree with, are mildly offensive to me and ignorant of the history concerned. As a "socially aware" artist, he's done his job - he's managed to piss off both Southern Heritage advocates and the local NAACP with his exhibit. Best of all for Mr Sims, he doesn't have to live with it - he's from Detriot.
But there's a small problem for the museum - what would cause a small stir in, let's say in a fairly cosmopolitian area, may not go over so well in not-so-cosmopolitian and very Southern area like Tallahassee. Most people in New York City may see the flag as a symbol of racism, but a sizable number in FL and surrounding areas hold the flag in regard as a symbol of their heritage. Oil, meet water.
Talking to Stephen Majors of the AP, Chucha Barber, the museum's executive director says:
There's a balance between the nature of the art that we show and the outcome that we seek, which is to promote dialogue and conversation, and have you maybe think of something in a slightly different way.
I can only think that Ms Barber uses a gallon of gasoline to light her hibachi, too. The textbook explaination she uses doesn't wash with the reality she is facing, which is that she has foisted a certain viewpoint on a community who sees history differently. There's a difference between raising awareness via art and polarizing the community. Unfortunately for her, Sims gets the publicity, and Barber and the museum gets the ire.