New York’s Greenspon gallery has pulled the the plug on an exhibition which would have included work by controversial artist and avant-garde noise musician Boyd Rice. The West Village gallery was the focus of a backlash after announcing the show, with critics pointing to Rice’s alleged Neo-Nazi sympathies, past collaboration with white supremacists, and views on the subjugation of women.
Gallery owner Amy Greenspon decided to cancel the show, which would also have included work by the artist Darja Bajagić, after friends and colleagues voiced alarm at Rice’s inclusion. Criticism mounted after an email was sent on Monday to the artist-resource listserv Invisible Dole, with its subject line reading ‘WARNING: neo-nazi showing in nyc.’
Although Greenspon said that she regretted her ‘lack of oversight’ while planning the exhibition, Boyd – a Magister of the Church of Satan – has faced persistent accusations of fascism over the years. A 1989 photograph in alternative music periodical Sassy Magazine showed Rice holding a switchblade, alongside noted white supremacist and American Front founder Bob Heick. Rice subsequently appeared on a television show with white supremacist and former Klan leader Tom Metzger.
Following the show’s cancellation, Rice told ARTnews: ‘People see the word ‘Nazi’ or ‘racist’, and they get emotional […] The people saying these things don’t really know about me, and aren’t familiar with the stuff I’ve done.’ Rice claimed that Greenspon had received threats: ‘They essentially said they were going to ruin her life, shut down her gallery. She was really upset.’ For his part, Rice appeared to suggest that he was happy with the attention that the controversy had created.
In a statement, Greenspon commented: ‘In light of this show announcement it has been brought to my attention the incendiary impact of [Rice’s] work. I have learned more about the artist’s work and past, and conclude that I am not comfortable supporting his project at this time […] As contexts, boundaries and political realities continue to transform, so do the codes of what can and cannot be accepted.’
Last month, Leipzig’s Galerie Kleindienst in Germany moved to drop one of its longstanding artists Axel Krause, over a series of anti-immigration posts on Facebook. The painter wrote: ‘We will be a minority in our own country!’, and stated his support for the far-right Alternaive für Deutschland (AfD) party. The gallery, who had represented Krause for 13 years, said that it did not want to promote his political views.