"Twenty-five years ago, the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati exhibited Robert Mapplethorpe’s The Perfect Moment and was immediately met with controversy. Nine of the first people through the door were a grand jury who looked at the 175 images and deemed seven of them to not only be offensive but criminal because of their explicit sexual content. The grand jury indicted not only the museum but also the director Dennis Barrie on charges of obscenity. In the trial that ensued, art vs. pornography, first amendment vs. censorship were brought to the fore. But much to everyone’s surprise, once the testimony concluded, the jury came back with a verdict in less than two hours: Not guilty. Art had won the day.
25 years later, the Contemporary Arts Center is now hosting After the Moment, an exhibit reflecting on the legacy of that Mapplethorpe exhibit. As part of this exhibit, an open call was placed to artists working today. It was Tom, one of my grooms from a wedding in 2014, who saw the call for submissions and encouraged me to enter a photograph from his and Neil’s wedding. I almost didn’t submit, thinking the photograph wouldn’t be enough to live up to such a legacy. Amidst all the explicit, dark, challenging material, it was just a wedding photograph. A beautiful moment, sure. But was it compelling enough? But Tom had written such a beautiful statement, I figured that was enough to send in with the image, and to my delight and surprise, it was accepted."