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Mapplethorpe’s 'obscene' exhibition revisited 25 years on

Symposium will examine the 1989 show that led to trial of museum director

It has been 25 years since Dennis Barrie, the director of Cincinnati’s Contemporary Arts Center (CAC), was indicted on obscenity charges in connection with the exhibition Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Moment. Barrie will revisit the now-notorious show alongside historians, curators and friends of the artist at Mapplethorpe + 25, a symposium at the CAC on 23 and 24 October. (Barrie—the first art museum director to be charged over an exhibition’s content—was found not guilty.)

The symposium will present new scholarship on the artist, including contributions by curators from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the J. Paul Getty Museum, which are planning a joint Mapplethorpe retrospective in 2016. “The censorship, obscenity trial and culture wars really eclipsed Mapplethorpe’s work,” says Kevin Moore, the artistic director of the Cincinnati-based photography biennial FotoFocus, which is co-organising the symposium with the CAC. “We’d like to move the conversation beyond that. What is the legacy of the work now?”