INSIGHT articles

Poland: Creative freedom undermined in cultural revolution

Every government has the right to conduct its own cultural policy and to determine its own priorities and strategies. But what has been happening in Polish culture since the nationalist-Catholic rightwing ‘Law and Justice’ Party (PiS) took power in the autumn of 2015 has not been a normal democratic correction. It has instead been a […]

New INSIGHT articles from Poland and Vietnam

Documenting incidents of censorship has never been enough. From the very beginning Freemuse has attempted to put censorship of music and arts into a larger context. Our series  INSIGHT  provides you with articles and features that dig a little deeper. The series is edited by Marie Korpe, co-founder and former executive director of Freemuse. » […]

Vietnam: Popular music and censorship

The Vietnamese state operates a thorough system of music censorship, and the few songwriters who dare to directly challenge the authority of the Vietnamese Communist Party or its policies face serious consequences. Focusing on popular musicians, this article charts the history of music censorship in Vietnam from the mid twentieth century through to the current digital era. […]

Turkey: The coup still continues for the art scene

The state of emergency following the failed coup in Turkey on July 15, 2016 resulted in increased pressure against artists. The already-ongoing attack against freedom of art has accelerated after the coup attempt. Artists are trying to keep their heads up under the pressure, while the government is planting the seeds for a total transformation […]

Greece: Artistic freedom at stake

Censorship incidents and controversies over artworks have multiplied over the last few years in Greece, particularly since the crisis hit the country in 2008. At the same time, legal controversies over blasphemous and obscene publications continue while hate crimes are on the rise, as exemplified by the murder of young rapper Fyssas in 2014.   […]

India: Censors under fire

Nearly halfway into the term of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, the world’s largest democracy is witnessing an increasingly polarised debate over freedom of expression; and what many critics and civil society members say is an atmosphere of intolerance in the country. By Ankush Arora    INSIGHT  When Indian film-maker Pankaj Butalia applied for […]

Turkey: “Music that sexually turns on people is a sin”

Artists are facing severe difficulties under Erdoğan’s rule. On 15 February 2016, The Turkish Directorate of Religious Affairs, issued a fatwa – a religious ban – on ‘sexual’ music. The latest victim of this arbitrary repression is an imam who runs a rockband and opposes the Directorate’s fatwa from a religious perspective. By Yiğit Günay […]

INSIGHT publication: Targeting the Arts

» Read on issuu.com Targeting the Arts Documenting incidents of censorship has never been enough. From the very beginning Freemuse has attempted to put censorship of music and arts into a larger context. In 2015 we introduced INSIGHT – a series of articles providing readers with analytical stories on censorship of the arts and in-depth interviews […]

Mali: Three years after the music ban

When the religious music ban in the northern part of Mali was lifted in 2013, Andy Morgan wrote the book ‘Music, Conflict and Culture in Mali’. Here is his account of what has happened in the country since then. By Andy Morgan    INSIGHT  One of the accusations often levelled at the West is that distance […]

France post-November 13: Musicians shocked but defiant

The massacre at the Bataclan concert hall spreads fear and generates financial losses but also determination to carry on. Daniel Brown reports from Paris two weeks after the attacks “Vive la musique, vive la liberté, vive la France, and vive EODM.” Eagles of Death Metal By what eerie twist of fate did the three assaillants launch their massacre […]

Israel: The political legacy of muzzling artists

In June 2015, Israeli artists made a collective roar against their government over its arts funding policy which bans dissident artists. Like everywhere else in the world, the government of Israel can choose which artists to support with public funding. It can ban, expel and censor artists, according to its own political agenda. The exclusivity […]

INSIGHT | Tunisia: Musicians confronted with censorship and repression

Of Tunisia’s entire artistic community, the musicians – and in particular urban rappers – have borne the brunt of the state’s censorship and repression. A wide legal arsenal has been used to drag musicians into court and throw them unceremoniously into gaol. By Daniel Brown  INSIGHT  In Tunisia, there are two kinds of rappers. First, […]

Burundi: Musicians menaced, silenced and fleeing the country

Burundian artists are confronted with ever-shrinking possibilities for open and free political speech. Well-known singers and band members are being targeted and, if possible, manipulated to change their artistic or political style. Several musicians have fled the country. By John Banram, Freemuse correspondent – reporting from Burundi  INSIGHT  Fear of being assassinated is spreading among […]

The alternative voices: Artists in the Arab world

Sandwiched between two of the most deadly terrorist attacks Tunisia has known in decades, several dozen artists from the Arab world gathered in Tunis to debate the link between art and violence. Many face censorship or deadly threats to their art and lives as their countries have been sucked into violence on a scale last […]

Indonesia: Punk music and Shari’a law

Punks face the tightening grip of Shari’a law in north Sumatra. This is documented in ‘Street Punk! Banda Aceh’ – a film about a punk community that refuses to die. Freemuse asked the film’s production team, director Maria Bakkalapulo and producer Niall Macaulay to tell about the struggle. By Maria Bakkalapulo and Niall Macaulay  INSIGHT  […]

Sweden: Art under threat

Several Swedish artists live under constant threat from nazis and extreme rightwing groups. For years, they have been subjected to threats, harassment and attacks directed at their art and themselves. The artists despair at the inability of the state to protect them. By Sanna Samuelsson    INSIGHT  Published in collaboration with Konstnären/The Artist One artist […]

Russia: Cultural freedom under threat

In this article Lena Jonson, Head of the Russia Programme at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs in Stockholm and author of the book ‘Art and protest in Putin’s Russia’, which was published in March 2015, describes that although censorship was forbidden by the Russian Constitution of 1993, since 2012 an informal ideological censorship has […]

Sweden: Rap group’s concerts cancelled after free speech controversies

Hip-hop flirting with political violence causes controversy and debate around the world. The Swedes have recently been having a thorough public discussion about where to draw the line between illegal hate speech on one side, and artists’ democratic right to express themselves on the other. Here is a run-down of Kartellen’s free speech journey in […]

The Syrian uprising – art in the diaspora

If there is a place where using the word “revolution” in the context of Syria does not result in endless and highly heated conversations, that is in arts and culture. Unlike politics – a slippery slope terrain where the 2011 Syrian uprising against Bashar al-Asad can take unexpected shapes and be easily turned into a […]

Syrian artists standing against tyranny

The nationwide uprising that swept through Syria in March 2011 has created a rift between the country’s artists and intellectuals. Some of whom took the regime’s side, some preferred to remain neutral, while others chose to join the revolution since its early beginnings. However, their support of the uprising has had serious repercussions: assault, threat, […]

France: Artist finds coexisting hard in streets of Paris

On the night of 30-31 January 2015, French street artist Combo Culture Kidnapper was assaulted by four unidentified youth as he put up a wall painting bringing together the three symbols of monotheism. ‘Coexist’ depicts the Muslim crescent, the Jewish Star of David and the Christian cross – replacing the ‘c’, ‘x’ and ‘t’, respectively. It was […]

Deji Bryce Olukotun: The spear of the N-word

Opinion-piece by Deji Bryce Olukotun    INSIGHT  In May 2012, a man walked into a South African art gallery and vandalised a painting, portraying President Jacob Zuma naked, that was entitled The Spear of the Nation. He was quietly apprehended by security and did not resist. A few minutes later, another man approached the painting […]

Russia: Ukrainian film director detained seven months in Moscow

The Ukrainian film director and screenwriter Oleg Sentsov is accused of terrorism and liable to be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison. On 11 December 2014 it is seven months since Oleg Sentsov was arrested in Crimea by the Russian secret service FSB. A trial has been set for 11 January 2015. On […]

Lebanon: Virtual museum winning censorship battles

The Virtual Museum of Censorship in Lebanon doesn’t just display censorship of the past, it also supports artists who have been subject to censorship, raises awareness about Lebanon’s censorship practices and advocates for changing the law while holding authorities accountable. “Lebanon’s censorship practices and laws are outdated and the bureaucracy is complicated,” explains an activist […]

Russia: The street artists that drive authorities mad

Russian street artists are twisting and testing the lines between art, activism and hooliganism. While most artists would define their various protest actions and expressions as art, or street art, the Russian authorities only see illegal hooliganism. This report goes behind the arts scenes in the country which became internationally known for its conflict between […]

Pakistan: Women musicians speak out about ‘the gender challenge’

In Pakistan today, women often find themselves unable to pursue music careers because of conservative family attitudes, political insecurity, and gender inequality. But certainly not all women, learned Sabrina Toppa, when she set out to investigate how the country’s ‘gender challenge’ affects musicians. Young, independent women are making a difference and a space for themselves […]

Russia and Ukraine: Musicians caught between conflict, bitter rhetoric and outright bans

As the conflict in Ukraine unfolds, political borders turn into cultural borders, and artists on both sides suffer the consequences. Russians are banning Ukrainian artists from performing, and vice versa. By Masha Egupova On September 25, as Russian singer Andrei Makarevich was performing at the House of Music in Moscow, members of the unregistered nationalist […]

China: Censored poet and exiled musician sidetrack oppression

Thanks to Internet connectivity, Tibetan artists inside and outside Tibet are finding new ways to communicate and collaborate. But to the Tibetans inside Tibet, this is at a high risk. By Dechen Pemba   “Music is like the wings of a bird that can fly over man-made borders.” Woeser In July 2013, a musical collaboration […]

China: Censorship of independent art has never been harsher

China says it wants to promote ‘culture’ but its censorship of independent art has never been more systemic, reports Oiwan Lam from Beijing, where authorities clamped down on yet another independent film festival in August 2014. By Oiwan Lam Chinese authorities shut down the 11th Annual Beijing Independent Film Festival (BIFF) and arrested the festival’s […]

How Russia’s anti-profanity law is affecting independent filmmakers

In May 2014, the Russian Parliament passed a law banning profanity from theater, movies, public performances, music and books. It has been two months since the ban took effect on 1 July 2014, and filmmakers are still trying to grapple with how the law will have repercussions on their work and Russian culture at large. […]

Pakistan: Rock guitarist keeps music scene alive despite state-wide fear and censorship

Pakistan is internationally known for its state-sponsored censorship and terrorists’ attacks on musicians and music shops. But in the capital, the music scene is in a fast transition. Meet Islamabad’s maestro guitarist Zeejah Fazli who works hard to help fix Pakistan’s broken and battered music industry. By Annie Zaman with additional reporting by Sahar Ghazi […]

Tunisia and Egypt: Music censorship after the Spring

‘The Cultural Spring’ in Tunisia and Egypt: Musicians are pushing the boundaries of artistic expression. By Victor Salama   While some Arab countries saw political changes in 2011 – president Ben Ali was ousted from power after ruling Tunisia for 24 years, Hosni Mubarak was deposed after ruling Egypt for 30 years – many cultural […]

Pakistan: Ban of social media has great impact on musicians

As Pakistan continues to restrict access to social media platforms such as YouTube and Facebook, activist band Laal discusses the silencing effect that these bans have on artists, and speaks to the future of free expression. By Anushe Noor Faheem, with additional reporting by Annie Zaman Laal, Pakistan’s most vocal social-justice oriented band, has built […]

China: Tibetan artists have to tread an incredibly fine line

Braving high risks and heavy censorship in China, Tibetan musicians sing their love for Tibet. by Dechen Pemba   Gebey, a Tibetan singer who had been detained at the end of May 2014 following a live performance in Ngaba Prefecture, eastern Tibet, has been released from detention. Gebey (sometimes spelled Gaybay or Gepey) has chosen […]

Brazil: The music Brazil doesn’t want you to be listening to

Leading up to the World Cup in Brazil, with sounds of gunfire in the background, forbidden funk rappers continued to talk about what the government wants to hide: extreme violence, social segregation and racism in the favelas. By Debora Baldelli Girls dance at a baile funk party in the Rocinha, the largest favela in Rio de […]

Tajikistan: As Tajik rap gets political, authorities resort to bans and pressure

The mayor of Dushanbe, Tajikistan banned rap and rock music from the capital’s buses, minibuses (marshrutkas), and taxis, suggesting that the genre was “alien to national and universal human values,” earlier this year. The initiative received the full backing from the country’s Minister of Education who stated that tunes which “do not conform to national […]

Russia: Musicians speak of censorship, persecution and viciousness

Violations of freedom of expression in Russia hit the frontpages of newspapers and websites all over the world in 2013 when two members of the Russian punk group Pussy Riot were imprisoned. Many other music groups and artists in Russia face censorship and persecution – but their cases are never heard of outside of Russia. […]

South Korea: K-pop music booms but censors still loom

The South Korean music style K-pop has become a success story of music export and glamour, but a long history of censorship and regulation still affects the music markets in South Korea. By Yoo Eun Lee, Global Voices Korean editor and founder of K-pop Decoder     K-pop has dominated the Asian music market for […]

The soundtrack of Syrian resistance

Music has been at the core of the Syrian uprising since its beginning in 2011, and for the same reason musicians have been killed and are being silenced by force. It is part of an attempt to impose political and religious agendas, reports Spanish-Syrian activist Leila Nachawati, who is a professor of Communications at Carlos […]

North Korea: Sun Mu – the faceless painter

Sun Mu is not the artist’s actual name. It’s a nom de plume that uses a combination of two Korean words that translate to ‘The Absence of Borders’. It not only represents what he feels is the transcendence of art but also the literal military demarcation line that keeps the Korean people separated. BY JASON […]

Syria: Art, creative resistance and active citizenship

The links between creative resistance and active citizenship, art and civic conscience have been a strong component of the Syrian uprising. Finally, citizens have turned into peer-creators and users, who have now the tools to express their creativity.     BY DONATELLA DELLA RATTA • OCTOBER 2012 • [A4 PDF]   During the early days […]

Iranian musician responds upright to death threats

This interview with Shahin Najafi and Günter Wallraff took place five months after a fatwa – a death sentence – was issued against the singer and rapper Shahin Najafi. It proclaimed him an apostate for recording the rap-song ‘Ay Naghi’ and sentenced him to death under Islamic law. The assault ensured that the name ‘Shahin […]

Mali: The day the music stopped

Posted on 23 October 2012. Updated on 7 January 2013 “We do not want Satan’s music,” said an Islamist spokesman as he banned the broadcasting of all western music from his stronghold in Gao, a city that finds itself within the most literal and brutal Sharia jurisdiction in the world today; the ‘red zone’ in […]

Fear, threats and self-censorship among Syrian rappers

Syrian rappers are split about how to engage in the fronts of an uprising that have turned to civil war. President Bashar al-Assad’s fear-based society is making everyone think twice.   Refugees of Rap, a group of rappers from the Palestinian refugee camp Yarmouk in Syria, has a new album ready for release about a […]

The invisible red line – maneuvering Chinese art censorship

Art can both reflect and shape reality. It is the fear of this power to amplify and produce meaning which inspires censorship. In their quest for freedom of expression, Chinese artists have had to face a variety of censorship strategies. Some are rooted in politics, while others hold to conservative moral and aesthetic codes. This […]

Nepal: The rise and ‘ban’ of the collateral

How a young Nepali painters’ works raised questions on artistic freedom in Kathmandu, the City of Temples. BY KANCHAN G. BURATHOKI • OCTOBER 2012 • [A4 PDF] On Tuesday afternoon, 11 September 2012, when the exhibition ‘The Rise of the Collateral’ had only nine days left to conclude, after having been at display at Siddhartha […]

Symbols into soldiers: Art, censorship, and religion

Notwithstanding almost two and a half centuries of separation of church and state, religious groups in the US have never given up the desire to impose their values and beliefs on society at large. Controversies around art with religious content persist with some regularity, generally spurred by private religious groups or conservative – or just […]

Tunisia’s ground zero for creative freedom

The ‘Nadia Jelassi’ affair has become a stake, a symbol of the successful democratic transition of the Tunisian revolution, and could represent ground zero for individual freedoms in the country that in late 2010 sparked off a world geopolitical earthquake. BY KERIM BOUZOUITA • OCTOBER 2012 • [PDF] IT’S 2012 IN TUNISIA and artist Mohamed […]

 

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