To be entirely honest, these articles were tough for me to read. I couldn't find much interest in them and at times couldn't follow what "Art in Russia: Under Attack" was talking about. It often jumped from one example to another, without fully fleshing out what it was trying to say about the example. So, to me, a significant weakness of "Art in Russia" is the lack of explanation and clarity of its ideas. However, since "The Art of Controversy" was a transcript of a conversation, it made much more sense to me and I could understand its ideas.
While "Art in Russia" covers the history of art censorship in Russia within the past few decades, "Art of Controversy" discusses the censorship of one particular show. It does mention the censorship of Robert Mapplethorpe's art, relating it by saying it falls within the same struggle. Since I did not understand a lot of the art in "Art in Russia" it's hard to say whether or not I feel that the government was correct in censoring it - however, I can agree with the censorship of "Sensation." They weren't saying the art could not exist, but that it should not be displayed in a public, tax-funded gallery meant to be appropriate to people of all ages. I agree, and think that it was better suited for a private gallery.
One question that these readings raised to me is: why is censorship like this dangerous? The expressions are not particularly meaningful. For artists like Ai Weiwei, the censorship is certainly harmful, as he is exposing corruption and cruelty deeply embedded into Chinese government. However, for displays like "Sensation," containing art like portraits made of frozen blood, I don't see real harm in censoring them. Floyd Abrams claimed it was "dangerous, profoundly dangerous" to say that the government has the power to censor offensive things. I disagree, especially in the case of "Sensation" (which Abrams was defending), because it didn't seem that there were any important or effective ideas in the art that the government was trying to hide. So, I wonder how and why censorship such as in the case of "Sensation" is dangerous.
Kristin Hines - Student artist at Maggie L. Walker Governor's School