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[BKARTS] More on Nexus Press, this from Johanna Drucker



Johanna Drucker, well-known book artist, art historian, writer of critical
texts, co-editor of JAB, the Journal of Artists' Books, and the Robertson
Professor of Media Studies and the Director of the Interdisciplinary Program
in Media Studies at the University of Virginia, has asked me to post this to
the list:

I am writing to ask for support and assistance in this situation. Can you
email some of these folks and let them know what you think?

Rob Smulian, director of the Contemporary Art Center in Atlanta, in
collaboration with the chair of the Board of that organization, Missi
McMorries, made a unilateral decision this week to terminate the operations
of Nexus Press and fire Brad Freeman, both with two weeks notice. The Board
of Nexus  Press was not informed. Clearly the Board of the Contemporary
could not have either, since no responsible member of the Board would
sanction an action so destructive to an organization with which it is
charged with stewardship.

I'm distressed and sickened by this decision. They cite difficult financial
times. We know that economic difficulties are EXCUSES for policy, they do
not determine policy. The decision to terminate the operation of Nexus Press
is a decision to deal a death blow to an institution that has put Atlanta on
the international map. For more than 25 years, Nexus has been the source of
independently produced works of book art, and has embodied the spirit of
alternative culture that is the essence of artistic imagination in an open
democratic society. Destroying Nexus reads as a move in keeping with the
rapidly escalating conservatism in our culture. Is this what the
Contemporary wants?

Terminating a professional employee with two weeks notice destroys the
credibility of the Contemporary as an institution. What other professional
will ever consent to work for this institution under these circumstances?
Though no contract exists between the Contemporary and Brad Freeman in a
technical sense, the implicit period of employment coincides with the budget
year. That is the period in which fiscal decisions and commitments have been
made. The Contemporary is morally and ethically obligated to fulfill this
commitment and to use this period to envision a transition plan for Nexus.
For me to address Brad's qualities would appear self-serving, but I do ask
that you look around the Contemporary and ask -- who else has an
international reputation as an artist, with work in collections at major
institutions throughout the United States and Europe, has the skills to run
a press, publish, edit, and design a major publication (JAB is the premier
critical journal in this field, and has a subscription list that includes
every major library in the country), and is also willing to work for a
salary that is about half what an entry-level assistant professor is paid?
Do you find that the rest of your staff have credentials so superior to his
that no one, absolutely no one, is less essential? Less valuable? No one
else in America would bring better credentials to Nexus Press, or reflect
better on the organization. Who among you has done more?
This decision was made in an unethical, and clearly unthought-through
manner. A careful transition plan is essential for Nexus. This is an
important cultural institution, with a reputation and profile that far
outstrip that  of The Contemporary.

The behavior of the Director and Board Chair were reprehensible acts of
cowardice. It is not too late to reconsider this decision. I urge you to do
everything possible to bring about a reversal of a shameful decision that
strikes a blow to artistic expression and independent culture in America. By
such measures as these, we lose the ground on which the ideals of a free
society can flourish. Nexus is a symbol of all that is courageous and
valuable in an artistic institution. Destroy Nexus? The Contemporary has
much to answer for in making such a decision and in such a cowardly fashion.
Rethink this.

Johanna Drucker

Contact list

 <"Tony Clancy"<j.anthony.clancy@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>>,
       <"Nick Gold"<ngold@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>>,
  <"William Estes III"<bill.estes@xxxxxxxxxxx>>,
  <"Michael Behr MD"<behrdoc@xxxxxxxxx>>,
       <"Mandy Mastrovita"<fatfink@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>>,
       <"Kevin Salwen"<kevin@xxxxxxxxxx>>,
       <"Catherine Kelley"<bookofkells@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>>,
       <"Larry Walker"<retiredartprof@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>>,
       <"Molly Mears"<jmmears@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>>,
       <"Linda Armstrong"<larmstr@xxxxxxxxx>>,
       <"Marcia Weber"<marcia@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>>,
       <"Michael Landau"<mlandau@xxxxxxx>>,
       <"Liz Lapidus"<liz@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>>,
       <"Joia M Johnson"<jjohnson@xxxxxxxx>>,
  <"Gregor Turk"<intherealm@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>>,
     <"Lance Weatherby"<lance@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>>,
      <"Lisa Hart"<mullerhart@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>>,
       <"Missi McMorries"<mmcmorries@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>>,
 <"Sara Schlesinger"<jrosco@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>>,
    <"Arlene Gardaya"<thearbcusgroup@xxxxxxx>>,
     <"Charles Nelson"<charlesnjr@xxxxxxx>>,
 <"Melinda Bergbom"<melinda.bergbom@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>>,
   <"Cindy Davis"<cindydavis@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>>,
       <"Terry Sagedy"<terry@xxxxxxxxxx>>,
     <"Victoria Durant-Gonzales"<vdurantg@xxxxxxxxxxx>>,
     <"Debbie Armstrong"<Debbie.Armstrong@xxxxxxxxxxxx>>,
    <"Jonathan Simon"<jonathan.simon@xxxxxxxxxxxx>>,
       <"Deborah Ryan"<dryan@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>>,
    <"Helena Reckitt"<reckitt@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>>,
       <"Mary Walton"<mwalton@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>>,
   <"Robert Smulian"<rsmulian@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>>,
       <"Timothy Tew"<timothy@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>>,
       <"Deanna Sirlin"<deannasirlin@xxxxxxxxx>>,
      <"Michelle Frost"<mmartin_pennhouse@xxxxxxxxx>>
Cc: <<berwynh@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>>,<<fatfink@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>>,
 <<bookofkells@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>>,
  <Brad Freeman <jabeditor@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>>,
       <"Anne F. Bessac"<abessac@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>>,
   <<jmcwilliams@xxxxxxx>>, <<waltgood@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>>,
   <Henry Darby <paschalldarby@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>>,
   <LISA HART <mullerhart@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>>,
        <robin bernat <rbernat@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>>, <<davidl@xxxxxxxx>>,
       <Moira Steven <moira.steven@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>>,
       <<slothrop99@xxxxxxxxx>>

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