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Casting couch sculpture in LA altered after Weinstein scandal

  • Published at 02:56 pm October 16th, 2017
  • Last updated at 05:46 pm October 16th, 2017
Casting couch sculpture in LA altered after Weinstein scandal
The aftermath of the Harvey Weinstein sex scandals has ripped apart the popular fantasies of Hollywood celebrity lifestyle and show business. In light of this scandal, authorities at Los Angeles have decided to alter a work of public art to remove a part believed to symbolise sexual abuse of actresses. The piece of a fiberglass sculpture of a daybed or couch, which was the pinnacle of “The Road to Hollywood,” a large and complex installation by artist Erika Rothenberg, was removed Thursday from its perch at Hollywood and Highland Center, the shopping mall adjacent to the theatre where the Academy Awards are handed out. In the eyes of many the harmless daybed sculpture was the symbol of a casting couch, a practice of accepting sexual favours from an aspiring actress. The removal followed the accusations against Weinstein’s sexual harassment and assault of women during his more than 30 years as a famous producer in Hollywood which turned this benign daybed shaped sculpture into a radioactive symbol and the social media and feminist blog sites erupted to remove this sculpture at once. The daybed was actually a small part of a large map trail-like mozaic mural installation that went through the shopping centre, each mozaic explaining a story from a Hollywood actor or crew member of how they made it in the business, hence the name “The Road to Hollywood.” But the mozaic beside the daybed said 'how some of us got here,' leading the public on the Internet to say that this implies female actors have to do casting couches to get themselves into Hollywood. Hollywood and Highland management issued a statement saying that “in light of current events we have deemed this component of ‘The Road to Hollywood’ to be insensitive and it has been removed from public display.” But the legality of the censorship is questionable. The Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990 designed to prevent “any intentional distortion, mutilation or other modification” of a work of art. The federal law followed passage of the similar 1979 California Art Preservation Act. So the shopping malls management cannot just remove a part of an artwork without the artist’s permission. In a telephone interview with Los Angeles Times, the installation’s designer Erika Rothenberg said that she was not informed by the mall’s management before the piece was removed and she was unhappy about this fact. But she also added that she knew that context, which always confers meaning on art, is malleable and a public context can change. She said: “I get it. Abuse by the powerful is real. They’re the enemy. And not just in Hollywood.” On the other hand while this Weinstein scandal mayhem is shaking Hollywood, actor Rose McGowan has publicly said: “Hollywood blacklisted me because I got raped.” On Thursday she publicly accused the Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein of raping her through several tweets. In those tweets she claimed she was “blacklisted” because she “got raped”, and has vowed to chase down the individuals in the film industry who are “aiding and abetting” sex crimes. In a series of tweets last week she also accused Roy Price, the head of Amazon Studios, of ignoring her when she made the allegation earlier. McGowan is one of more than 30 women who have come forward since the New York Times revealed sexual harassment and rape allegations against hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein going back decades.
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