China: Russian artist refused to follow Chinese censors’ ultimatum

“The Chinese officials gave me an ultimatum to remove the first two questions from the installation [‘Moscow Poll’]. I did not agree to their demands and refused to participate in the biennale,“ the Russian artist Yuri Albert said.

The works of four Russian artists were to be exhibited in the Moscow Pavilion in the 2012 Shanghai Biennale. The artist Yuri Albert was supposed to participate in the exhibition with two projects: ‘Self-portrait with eyes closed’, a description of a Van Gogh painting in Braille script, and ‘Moscow Poll’, a voting booth with audience participation, for which he had been awarded the Kandinsky Prize in 2011. He created ‘Moscow Poll’ in 2009, an installation of eight tables with questions to which the audience is supposed to answer either “yes” or “no” and drop ballots in transparent ballot boxes.

The two questions on one of the posters in the ‘Moscow Poll’ installation, which the Chinese authorities disapporoved of, were:

1) Would the fact that no Russian artists protested against the war with Georgia cause you to change your attitude towards contemporary Russian art?

2) Does the strengthening of censorship and self-censorship affect the quality of contemporary Russian art?

The exhibition is curated by the Stella Art Foundation. Nikolay Molok, the director of development for the Stella Art Foundation, said:

“The censorship did not come from the curators of the Biennale, but from the government officials, whose names are not known.”

He also mentioned that he had learned that other artists as well had been censored in the Shanghai Biennale.

The 9th Shanghai Biennale will take place from 1 October 2012 to 31 March 2013 at the new Shanghai Museum of Contemporary Art.

 

Source:

ArtLeaks – 5 September 2012:
Yuri Albert: “I am not going to Shanghai because of censorship”
Artist Yuri Albert recently made public his refusal to participate in the 2012 Shanghai Biennale. He explained that the reason was that Chinese officials wanted to censor one of his works. The artist released a statement about this on his Facebook page on Monday, September 3rd.

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