The gun was part of my art. UH said no.
Is some art too dangerous to display?May 2, 2016
|The original version of "ARTGun," by artist Alton DuLaney. The University of Houston denied him permission to display the work as intended. Through May 14, a gun-less version is on view at Blaffer Art Museum.|
Having recently moved back to my native Texas to obtain an MFA through the University of Houston, I have been fascinated with the discourse about guns — especially the loaded (pun intended) topics of concealed handgun licenses, licenses to carry, and campus carry.
For the annual exhibition of student art at UH's Blaffer Art Museum, I created a piece called "ARTGun": A real .22 revolver, not loaded, in a glass frame, with a cartoon-like "Bang" flag protruding from its barrel.
People familiar with art history will see that I was drawing on a long list of artists who've gone before me. I used the same caliber of gun that artist Chris Burden used "Shoot," the famous 1971 performance in which he had an assistant shoot him in the arm. I referenced Marina Abramovic, who in a 1974 performance laid out a table with 72 items, including a loaded gun, and invited artists to do as they saw fit. Then there's Andy Warhol (with his famous portrait of a gunslinging Elvis), Marcel Duchamp (and his exploration in the beauty of the readymade), Roy Lichtenstein (with his comic book approach to Pop Art), and even Mel Chin (who has exhibited works of art relating to both firearms and ammunitions at the Blaffer Art Museum).
I have chosen to include the piece in the show anyway — only without the gun that was central to its original conception.
The situation brings up interesting questions: