No Art-ic Refuge
Sometimes art gets political — and sometimes it’s the artist who suffers. Just ask Subhankar Banerjee, who spent his life savings to photograph Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. For a while, things were going swimmingly for Banerjee; he found a publisher for his photo collection and earned an exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. Then, in March, a senator urged her colleagues to look at the collection before voting for oil drilling in the refuge — and that’s when the trouble started. Banerjee and his publishers say some members of the Smithsonian told them the museum had been called on to cancel or revise the exhibit, charges the institution denies. The show, which opens today, was moved from the main floor to a lower-level room and the text was deleted or truncated. For example, one caption, written by Banerjee, originally read, “The refuge has the most beautiful landscape I have ever seen and is so remote and untamed that many peaks, valleys and lakes are still without names.” It was changed to read, “Unnamed Peak, Romanzof Mountains.” Quotations from President Carter and environmental writers Peter Matthiessen and Terry Tempest Williams were also deleted.