El Museo del Barrio Cancels Jodorowsky Show
El Museo del Barrio announced on Monday that it was canceling a survey of the work of the Chilean-born artist and director Alejandro Jodorowsky, who was quoted as saying he had raped an actress while filming a scene in a movie.
In a written statement Monday the museum said that the decision to cancel the exhibition was made after an assessment of Mr. Jodorowsky’s remarks “regarding an act of sexual violence he perpetrated” during the making of his 1970 film “El Topo.”
“While the issues raised by Jodorowsky’s practice should be examined, we have come to the conclusion that an exhibition is not the right platform for doing so at this time,” El Museo’s director, Patrick Charpenel, said in a statement.
The museum’s decision was first reported on Monday by Art News. Coming less than three weeks after the museum reversed a decision to honor a socialite from Germany who has ties to archconservative opponents of Pope Francis, the cancellation raises questions about the vetting process that El Museo employs while arranging programming and events.
Mr. Jodorowsky could not immediately be reached for comment. In an email message, his wife, Pascale Montandon-Jodorowsky, cited the late hour in Paris and said he would provide a response on Tuesday.
Museum officials said that the episode Mr. Charpenel referred to was the same one the British newspaper The Telegraph described in a lengthy article in 2017. That story examined the making of “El Topo,” a surreal western in which Mr. Jodorowsky plays a man in black who wanders a phantasmagoric Mexican landscape and at one point commits a brutal rape.
The story brought renewed attention to a description by Mr. Jodorowsky of how the film was made that appeared in the 1972 book “El Topo: A Book of the Film.” In that account, the director said that he and an actress had gone into the desert to film a scene, taking with them only a photographer and technician.
The Telegraph said that Mr. Jodorowsky had instructed the actress to begin striking him and then cited the book, which says: “After she had hit me long enough and hard enough to tire her, I said, ‘Now it’s my turn. Roll the cameras.’ And I really … I really … I really raped her. And she screamed.”
The whereabouts of the actress could not be ascertained, and no record that she commented publicly on the scene described in the book could be found.
Over the years, The Telegraph said, Mr. Jodorowsky has given different accounts of how that scene was filmed, denying that he committed rape and suggesting that he claimed to have done so only to shock others.
Regardless, museum officials said, they decided after an internal review not to proceed with the survey.
“As we worked on the materials for the show, we found that it was impossible to adequately frame or contextualize Jodorowsky’s remarks with the imagery in ‘El Topo,’” the museum’s statement said.
In the exhibition, which was to have opened on Feb. 28, the museum planned to exhibit more than 50 years of work described as “visual, literary, filmic and archival material” drawn largely from Mr. Jodorowsky’s personal documentation, including items related to “El Topo.”
Accompanying programming was to include a tarot reading by Mr. Jodorowsky and the premiere of his latest film, titled “Psychomagic: A Healing Art.”
Mr. Charpenel began running El Museo in 2017, after the museum went through a period of upheavals that included high-profile departures and reduced hours. El Museo was founded in 1969 by Puerto Rican artists and activists and is the oldest museum in the United States devoted to Latino art.
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