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The budget airline Jet Blue has forced the removal of a work by controversial performance artist Vanessa Beecroft from "Terminal Five," the much-ballyhooed installation of contemporary art at the modernist Eero Saarinen pavilion at JFK airport, which Jet Blue is renovating as its new air hub. Beecrofts provocative work, VB54, features 35 scantily clad African American women, covered with black makeup and wearing silver ankle chains like those used to detain illegal immigrants.

The Port Authority, which operates JFK, insisted that no artworks in the show involve nudity. Beecroft often uses nude women in her performances, but she compromised here, dressing her models in bikinis (during a preview presentation, prior to the shows opening, the women wore bikini bottoms and pasties). Jet Blue says it nixed the piece because Beecrofts work -- photographs and a video, not the actual performance -- was installed too late for the companys official review.

"Terminal Five" curator Rachel Ward expressed disappointment at the move, but declined to speculate as to whether the risqué content of Beecrofts work might have played a part in its elimination. Ward has other problems with the show (which she arranged only after long negotiations). The Port Authority has insisted that a skateboard ramp by Tom Sachs, installed in a tunnel that leads to a flight wing, be blocked by a plastic barrier so that it cannot be used. "Im trying to reopen it with additional liability insurance," says Ward.

"Terminal Five" remains on view Oct. 1, 2004-Jan. 31. 2005, and includes works by Douglas Coupland, Kendell Geers, Toland Grinnell, Jenny Holzer, Jennifer and Kevin McCoy, Jonas Mekas, Jonathan Monk, Anri Sala and others.

                                                                  -- Sarah Douglas

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