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Art Exhibit on Bans May Go Up in Smoke

Andrew Nagy
Posted: August 21, 2008

A U.S.-based artist may not be allowed to show his installation piece at an upcoming London art fair because it violates the city smoking ban.

Artist Norma Jeane's work The Straight Story invites the public to enter and smoke in three transparent booths just big enough to fit one person inside. The work is meant to encourage commentary on how government smoking bans have changed the habit from a social activity into an antisocial one.

However, Westminster City Council, the body that grants smoking exemptions to theaters putting on plays in which smoking occurs, has rejected the artist's application. According to The Guardian newspaper in London, the council said the installation lacked "artistic merit" and so could not be granted permission to break the law.

The annual Frieze Art Fair takes place in Regent's Park in London and has grown to become one of the largest art fairs in the world.

Members of the art world are supporting Frieze and fighting Westminster Council in an attempt to reverse the decision.

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