Covering Guernica isnít another boob job
BY CAMILLE DODERO
Remember a little over a year ago, when the Justice Department shrouded Lady Justice because her stiff right nipple loomed over Attorney General John Ashcroftís head during press conferences? Well, it seemed like the JDís censorious wiles had slithered into United Nations headquarters last week when online " art newspaper " Artdaily.com reported that a tapestry rendering of Pablo Picassoís Guernica ó a black-and-white delineation of bombing atrocities inflicted during the Spanish Civil War ó suspended outside the Security Council " has been covered with a curtain. " The New York Observer also noted the concealment of the classic piece during chief weapons inspector Hans Blixís January 27 Iraq briefing. While Artdaily.com was clearly more misleading than the Observer, the two accounts together made it seem that the UN had indefinitely veiled the antiwar artwork ó not only a sneaky denial of the potential horrors of warfare, but a more severe case of philistinism than the Justice Departmentís mamma masking.
But according to the UN, the swathing of Guernica wasnít another boob job. " As soon as the meeting ended, [Guernica] was uncovered, " says UN spokesman Stephan Dujarric. " It was only covered for six hours last week. Itís uncovered now. It is not at all a semi-permanent thing. "
So why was it covered in the first place? Safety, logistics, and camera angles, says Dujarric. When more than 200 journalists are present in the " stakeout area, " television cameras have to be set up in the middle of the corridor instead of their usual side position. And since thereís no depth from that angle, only a small segment of the 22-by-10-foot mural would appear onscreen. " So you donít see the tapestry, you donít see that itís Guernica, you only see strange shapes. "
Of course, it does seem awfully convenient that the only time Guernica disappears is when the whole world is watching. But like any good spokesman, Dujarric insists that thereís no duplicity at work here. " Let me stress that for us, thereís no more appropriate place for Guernica, " he says. And with that, nearly everyone can agree.
Issue Date: February 6 - 13, 2003
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