Denmark: Row over ban of theatre group’s burning flag

This photograph of a naked woman and a burning Danish flag was supposed to have been promoting a new production by the theatre group Danskdansk (‘Danishdanish’) in the capital of Copenhagen. But the advertisement agency Clear Channel did not want to see it displayed on the back of 18 Copenhagen buses, and the director of the venue refused to print it in the venue’s programme catalogue.

The photo for the advertisement was made by Per Morten Abrahamsen. Courtesy of danskdansk

“Since the burning of flags has references to religious and political conflicts, we have requested that the ad will be changed,” confirmed Jens Stener, managing director of Clear Channel, the company which administers advertisement space on Movia busses in Copenhagen.

No one apparently objected to showing a naked pregnant woman holding a flag in one hand, but the burning of a Danish flag was considered too strong an image for the Danish public. The naked woman will still be seen on the the back of the Movia buses, but the burning Danish flag will be painted over with black.

“This is very clearly censorship,” said artistic co-director of Danskdansk, Hassan Preisler, who was interviewed in national tv, TV2 News, on 26 November 2012.

On Danskdansk’s Facebook page Hassan Preisler writes:

“I have directed performances around the world, including in Lebanon, where it is standard procedure, even expected, that publicity expression and artistic material will be subject to censorship. But I had not yet heard of it taking place in Denmark. This is an unusual experience.”
Questions about national identity
“It is a pity, because the poster highlights our performance, which calls national identity into question. Clear Channel refers to a clause that advertisements must not be pornographic or religiously offensive, but we live in a secular state, so the Danish flag is not a religious symbol. Therefore, this is not something Clear Channel can base their censorship on,” said Sandra Yi Sencidiver, artistic co-director of danskdansk:

“Of course, this poster arouses some feelings, but it seems that the censorship is driven by fear. Everyone who sees a burning Danish flag thinks of the “cartoon crisis” [in 2006], but that is not what this poster is about.”
TV2 Lorry – 27 November 2012:
Tv-interview with Per Morten Abrahamsen and Hassan Preisler (in Danish language)


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