Portugal: Young artists’ flag project tried in court
With the art work ‘Portugal at the gallows’ featuring the Portuguese flag hanging off a garotte, the young photographer and college student Elsio Menau wanted to highlight the current economic and political crisis in Portugal. An individual has filed a complaint to court, accusing the artist of committing a crime.
Fernando Cabrita, a lawyer and writer, volunteered to defend the young artist in court. Cabrita stressed that it was a form of artistic expression, underlining that Elsio Menau’s artistic creation is a “constitutional right”, and requested the acquittal of the artist. He also noted that flags in an “advanced state of decomposition” are seen all over the country.
The verdict will take place on 7 July 2014 at the Court of Faro in the Algarve region. On Facebook, over 330 people have signed up that they will be attending the court hearing.
The young Portuguese artist created the installation in 2012 and exhibited it at the gates of Faro in south Portugal. The work was removed two days later by a police guard.
It was later exhibited for about two months at the Art Gallery of the Convent of Santo António in Loulé in the context of a collective exhibition organised by the University of Algarve. The work was also included in a video clip by the hip-hop group Take Stains, who used the name of the art work as the title of one of their songs.
Elsio Menau was quoted as saying that if he was convicted it would be “unjust” and a “lack of freedom of expression.” In his own words, it is a “work that seeks to show outrage at the state the country is in.”
» Elsio Menau’s Facebook page:
Video interview with Elsio Menau (in Portuguese language):
» RTP – 23 June 2014:
Artista foi a tribunal por querer mostrar o estado em que está o país