Republican lawmaker: AIDS memorial exhibit belongs in ‘a sewage treatment plant’
A number of right-wing Republican lawmakers in Georgia have hit out at a memorial exhibit for victims of the AIDS crisis, claiming it belongs in a “sewage treatment plant”.
The exhibition, titled ‘Art AIDS America’ was originally created by the Tacoma Art Museum in October and is set to appear at Kennesaw State University as part of a tour.
It “explores the whole spectrum of artistic responses to AIDS, from the politically outspoken to the quietly mournful, surveying works from the early 1980s to the present” – chronicling the way art was used as a form of protest amid silence from the Reagan Administration.
Art AIDS America features more than 125 works in a wide range of media dating from 1981 to the present day, by artists including Félix González-Torres, Derek Jackson, Kia Labeija, Annie Leibovitz, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Martin Wong.
Some of the installations directly target Reagan for criticism.
According to the Marietta Daily Journal, Republicans bemoaned the University for allowing the exhibit to be shown.
State Senator Lindsey Tippins said: “Typically, communities send their garbage to the dump and dispose of their body waste at the local sewage treatment plant.
“KSU has chosen to celebrate and elevate it to an ‘art’ exhibit. Trash is trash. I think it speaks for itself.”
Republican Earl Ehrhart, who chairs the committee responsible for university funding, issued a veiled threat to the university over the memorial exhibit, which he claims was “sickening” and “a blatant political statement.”
He threatened: “I’m going to make it real clear, let’s just put it that way. I had a lot of success in getting Tech’s attention in spending taxpayer money on ridiculous things.”
The lawmaker has previously shot down the university’s requests for funding over its ‘zero tolerance’ sexual assault stance.
According to Right Wing Watch, the Republicans picked out two works of 125 to cite: an installation that “includes pictures of the late President Ronald Reagan, conservative godfather William F. Buckley Jr., conservative Sen. Jesse Helms and televangelist Jerry Falwell, mixed in with what appear to be Nazi storm troopers under a pink triangle”, as well as a painting “of a naked man wearing a clown mask engaged in a sex act with a skeleton”.
Watch a trailer for the exhibition below: