Cuba: Exhibition bans photo of official tabloid being used as toilet paper

Cuban photographer Erick Coll stated via his Facebook account that one of his works depicting a woman using the state-run weekly tabloid Trabajadores (Workers) as toilet paper was removed from the Erotic Art Salon at the Fayad Jamis’ Gallery in Havana, reported El Nuevo Herald on 10 February 2017. The banned photograph entitled “Valor de […]

China: Gallery cancels event due to government pressure over Tibetan artist

Macau-based iAOHiN Amber gallery cancelled Tibetan painter Tashi Norbu’s live painting event after receiving pressure from Chinese government officials, reported Hong Kong Free Press on 27 February 2017. The artist, who was in Hong Kong at the time, added that Chinese authorities threatened to arrest and deport him if he tried to enter Macau, reported […]

Philippines: Film festival bans filmmakers, revokes award

The Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) Executive Committee decided to ban director Alvin Yapan and two producers of film ‘Oro’ for one year due to controversy over a scene where a dog was allegedly killed, reported Philippine news portal Interaksyon on 6 January 2017. The committee’s decision came after it already revoked the Fernando Poe […]

Peru: Exhibition cut short due to controversial LGBT artworks

The fifth edition of contemporary art exhibition ‘Outside’ was cut short by venue organisers French Alliance of Arequipa due to three works by Peruvian artist Jesús Álvarez that made reference to the city of Arequipa’s plurality and diversity by pointing to its “queer nature”, reported Sin Fronteras on 27 December 2016. According to exhibition curator […]

India: Mural erased from festival after far-right group’s protest

On 26 December 2016, the last day of the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay’s (IIT-B) Mood Indigo cultural festival, dozens of protestors from far-right political party Shiv Sena entered the campus and demanded a mural depicting a modern version of Hindu god Hanuman be erased from the wall, reported The Indian Express on 26 December […]

Burundi: Music censorship or artist protection?

Since a political crisis hit Burundi in May 2015, tensions have been high between the powers that be and the opposition; the media and civil society have all been involved in this polarising battle; and it seems that the newest victims of this battle are local musicians who now need to pass a “quality test” […]

Cuba: Festival bans film portraying Castro’s ill treatment of homosexuals

The Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry (ICAIC) decided to ban the film ‘Santa y Andrés’, which had been pre-selected for display at the Festival of New Latin American Cinema in Havana, also known as the Havana Film Festival, that took place 8-18 December 2016. The film was deemed contrary to Revolutionary values and […]

Russia: Artistic freedom threatened by nationalist and orthodox groups

While Russian president Vladimir Putin vowed in a meeting with film directors and artists in early December 2016 to protect artistic freedom, he also said artists carry a responsibility not to offend religious believers, saying “there is a very narrow divide between dangerous shock value and freedom of creativity”, reported The New York Times on […]

UAE: Film festival cancels screening of Egyptian animated short

‘The Unknown Sweet Potato Seller’, a short animated movie by Egyptian filmmaker Ahmed Roshdy, was cancelled on 11 December 2016, just 24 hours before its screening as part of the “Muhr Short“ competition at the 13th Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF), reported Mada Masr on 13 December 2016. DIFF posted a statement on its official […]

Spain: Exhibition organisers censor artworks by former terrorist prisoners

Curators of art exhibition ‘Giltzapekoak: Notas Sobre La Reclusión’ (Giltzapekoak: Notes on Imprisonment) reported that the San Sebastián 2016 Foundation decided to censor various artworks made by prisoners and former prisoners of Basque terrorist group ETA that were to be displayed as part of the San Sebastián 2016 European Culture Capital programme. The foundation claims it […]

Singapore: Two performances cut from festival due to ‘excessive nudity’

Two performances – Ming Poon’s ‘Undressing Room’ and Thea Fitz-James’ ‘Naked Ldies’ – were cut from the 2017 M1 Singapore Fringe Festival after the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) assessed they exceeded the R18 age rating, according to the festival’s statement released on 5 December 2016. Festival organisers added that while the artists were willing […]

United Kingdom: University cancels musical due to race row

A theatre at the University of Bristol cancelled all showings of its student production of musical ‘Aida’ due to protests over potential “cultural appropriation” that white students would be cast in the lead roles of ancient Egyptians and slaves, reported The Telegraph on 4 October 2016. The musical, written by Elton John and Tim Rice […]

Germany/Netherlands: Faroese metal band shows cancelled over whaling

Viking heavy metal band, Týr, from the Faroe Islands, have had at least six concerts of their 17-date November European tour supporting Norwegian metal band Sirenia cancelled over lead singer Heri Joensen’s participation in the Faroese practice of whaling. According to heavy metal news site MetalTalk.net on 30 August 2016, venue owners of club Logo […]

China: Government arts association expels “vulgar” artist

Chinese artist and calligrapher Sun Ping has been expelled from the China Artists Association (CAA) due a performance piece deemed “vulgar” that features women painting calligraphy using brushes held inside their vaginas, reported The Independent on 16 June 2016. The CAA said in a statement: In recent years, Sun Ping used the name of performance […]

Nigeria: Singer’s songs banned by DJ association after on-stage slap

The Nigerian Association of Deejays (DJAN) lifted its ban on Terry G’s songs after the singer publicly apologised for slapping DJ Phriz on stage at a show in a Lagos club on 5 June 2016, reported Nigerian online news source Pulse on 21 June 2016. On 8 June 2016, Pulse reported that DJAN, an association […]

USA: Threats to cut museum funding over “blasphemous” paintings

Ben Loyola, a member of the Virginia Beach Arts and Humanities Commission, and one other member, have threatened to cut funding to the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) over an exhibition featuring two Mark Ryden paintings Loyola deems to be “very anti-Christian” and “anti-Catholic”, reported local tv news WAVY-TV on 13 May 2016. Loyola, […]

Ghana: Music union calls for regulation on obscene lyrics

The Musician Union of Ghana (MUSIGA) has urged musicians to refrain from using profane and obscene lyrics in their songs, asked radio and tv station operators to act as gatekeepers in this regard, and called upon Parliament to step in where the National Media Commission has failed to regulate what music goes on the airwaves, […]

China: Political art installation pulled from public space in Hong Kong

Government officials and exhibition organisers pulled a light installation just five days into its run set to be projected onto the façade of Hong Kong’s tallest building, the ICC tower, from 17 May 2016 to 22 June 2016 after the artists revealed that part of the piece had a political message, reported the BBC on […]

France: Music festivals cancel Eagles of Death Metal performances

Music festival organisers in France have cancelled performances by the American band Eagles of Death Metal following controversial remarks by its frontman, reported various international news providers. The band’s Bataclan concert in Paris in November 2015 was attacked by terrorists, who shot and killed 89 people there. Eagles of Death Metal’s leadsinger Jesse Hughes had […]

Turkey: Actress’ contract cancelled over interview comments

Actress Füsun Demirel was removed from the cast of tv-series ‘The Family Business’ after saying in an interview with newspaper Cumhuriyet on 13 March 2016 that she would like to play a role related to the guerrilla girls, reported newspaper Radikal on 16 March 2016. Demirel’s comments were made when the newspaper asked her what […]

Tunisia: Singer banned from working due to suggestive video

The Tunisian Musicians Syndicate has banned singer Hana al Zughlami aka Tunisian Naglaa from working in the country under accusations she promoted vice and immorality in her latest video and single ‘La Ykhebbesh Wala Ydebbish’, reported news site Al Bawaba on 31 March 2016. The syndicate has also stated that legal action would be taken […]

Singapore: Two sex toys removed from exhibition

The Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in Singapore removed two sex toys from artist Loo Zihan’s art installation entitled ‘Queer Objects: An Archive for the Future’, reported The Straits Times on 16 February 2016. The artist said that originally four items were going to be removed from his 81-object installation, but in the end only two […]

Egypt: Several books banned at international book fair

According to Egyptian news portal Youm7, several books were banned from the 2016 Cairo International Book Fair held in late January/early February 2016 for presenting controversial themes and ideas on topics such as homosexuality and female status. Moroccan author Mohamed Shokri’s ‘For the Sake of Only Bread’ was the first book to be banned at […]

USA: Jewish community theatre cancels play

The Michael-Ann Russell Jewish Community Centre in North Miami Beach, Florida chose to cancel the drama ‘Crossing Jerusalem’ after community members protested the anti-Jewish elements and “false paradigm of the Arab-Israeli conflict” they felt the play portrayed, reported newspaper South Florida Sun-Sentinel on 29 February 2016. “Please know that our intentions in presenting ‘Crossing Jerusalem’ are […]

Bangladesh: Tibetan art exhibit censored under Chinese pressure

The Chinese ambassador to Bangladesh, Ma Mingqiang, found the ‘Last Words’ exhibit at the Dhaka Art Summit “offensive” and called for its removal as it featured copies of handwritten letters written by five Tibetans before they self-immolated in protest against the Chinese government, reported ArtNet News on 9 February 2016. Organisers of the summit felt […]

Iran: Singer banned from tv and festival

Salar Aghili has been banned from appearing on Iranian television and performing in the country’s Fajr International Music Festival, reported human rights organisation journalismisnotacrime.com on 26 January 2016. The famous singer was banned due to his appearance on Manoto TV, a Persian-language satellite channel based in London. Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Ali Jannati […]

Ukraine: Italian opera singer cancels concerts in Crimea

After the Ukrainian Ministry of Culture said on 18 January 2016 that it would cancel Italian opera singer Alessandro Safina’s concerts in the country since he also scheduled performances in Crimea, the singer announced on 22 January 2016 that he would cancel his two dates in the contested region, reported Ukraine Today. Safina said he […]

Egypt: Union president suspends six singers from performing

Hani Shaker, controversial president of the Egyptian Musicians Syndicate, issued a decision to suspend six singers from being able to work as artists based on their behaviours during performances, reported Al Arabya News. Shaker stated that their behaviour was not in line with public morals as they wore “body revealing clothes” and acted “racy” and […]

Iran: Concert cancelled for having female musicians

A concert by the Tehran Symphony Orchestra was cancelled at the last minute on 29 November 2015 because some of the musicians were female, reported The National.  The orchestra was due to play in Tehran before the World Wrestling Clubs Cup competition and was stopped from performing as it was readying itself to play the […]

India: Pakistani singer’s concerts cancelled after protests

Two concerts by the veteran Pakistani singer Ghulam Ali scheduled in the Indian state of Maharashtra were cancelled by the organisers after a regional Hindu right-wing party took exception to the events. The Shiv Sena, a Hindu nationalist party that is part of the coalition government in Maharashtra State, asked the organisers to cancel the […]

China: Malaysian rapper told to make no controversial statements

The Malaysian rapper Namewee (real name: Wee Meng Chee) has become the latest to join a growing number of artists and brands facing limitations on their performance in China. Namewee posted a statement on Facebook on 19 October 2015 that he had been forced by his Hong Kong concert promoter to declare that he wouldn’t […]

Russia: Exhibition in St. Petersburg censored and closed

A Belgian and a German artist have had an exhibition of their graphic novel shuttered in St. Petersburg’s Nabokov Museum, according to The Moscow Times. The artists, Dominique Goblet and Kai Pfeiffer, were displaying their work as part of an international comic, graphic novel and illustration festival called Boomfest, which has been held annually in […]

Lebanon: Documentary film with Sahrawi artists banned

The film ‘Life Is Waiting: Referendum and Resistance in Western Sahara’ has been banned in Lebanon. All screenings at Beirut Film Fest have been cancelled. ‘Life Is Waiting’ is a new film by director Iara Lee, who asked Sahrawi activists and artists to give answers to questions such as: ‘What will it take for the […]

United Kingdom: Theatre play addressing radicalisation cancelled

A play about Islamist radicalisation in British schools was canceled in August 2015 just two weeks before opening night, prompting speculation the actors, writers and developers had been censored. The play, ‘Homegrown’, was due to be performed by the National Youth Theatre at the UCL Academy in North London. It was developed using interviews with […]

Ecuador: Dance performance cancelled under pressure from Chinese embassy

On 22 May 2015, Falun Dafa – an organisation responsible for bringing the dance show “The Monkey King” by the Shen Yun Performing Arts Company to Ecuador, reported it had been the victim of censorship, following the decision of the Ecuadorian House of Culture to suspend activities at the National Theatre, affecting performances of the show […]

USA: Anti-censorship theatre even censored

A benefit event for the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) scheduled for 14 June 2015 at The Sheen Center in New York City, was abruptly called off after the theatre hosting the show deemed some of the content offensive. The event has since been rescheduled. The show was cancelled by Sheen Management, which sought to […]

Canada: Viet Cong banned from playing because of their name

The Canadian art rockers Viet Kong have had a show in Ohio cancelled because their name ‘deeply offends’ some people. Gig promoter Ivan Krasnov took to the Oberlin ‘Sco Facebook page to apologise for booking an act whose name “deeply offends and hurts Vietnamese and Vietnamese-American communities, both in Oberlin and beyond”. He extended his […]

USA: Symphony censored over its comments on totalitarianism

In March 2015, 21-year-old composer Jonas Tarm was about to reach a profound career milestone: His original composition was going to be performed at New York’s Carnegie Hall. But at the last minute, the New York Youth Symphony told Tarm that his Carnegie debut – commissioned by the orchestra as part of its prestigious First […]

USA: Sony Pictures cancels film premiere after intimidation and threats

Sony Pictures has cancelled the premiere of a US$44 million comedy film about the fictional assassination of North Korea’s leader, ‘The Interview’. The cancellation comes after the hacking of Sony’s computer system and threats of terror. In June 2014, North Korea called the movie an act of war and promised “a merciless counter-measure” if it […]

USA reportedly excludes artists and writers with Arab names

“Excluding important writers like Nasser from the literary dialogue punishes US readers, reduces their exposure to Arabic writing in translation, and potentially limits American literature,” writes Al Jazeera’s Marcia Lynx Qualey after the Jordanian-British poet and novelist Amjad Nasser recently was prevented from boarding a US-bound flight. Acclaimed leftists writers like Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Pablo […]

Russia: Opera premiere cancelled after its composer was attacked

The premiere of a new opera in St. Petersburg has been cancelled after two venues refused to host it and the composer was savagely beaten and death threats were issued. The opera ‘New Jerusalem’ is composed by award-winning local composer Ilya Demutsky with librettist Artyom Suslov. The opera follows the actions of an individual who […]

United Kingdom: Theatre piece containing nudity censored

Actress Elizabeth Sogorb is being forced to wear a flesh-coloured catsuit in her performance of La Nina Barro at the fringe because venue The Newsroom has objected to the nakedness which is an integral part of the show. The performance involves Sogorb starting the piece covered in clay, which is washed off over the course […]

United Kingdom: Two concerts with Ugandan rapper cancelled

Ugandan rapper Bobi Wine (real name: Robert Kyagulanyi) has had two planned performances in the UK pulled after venues learned of the singer’s anti-LGBTI stance, reported Gay News Network on 31 July 2014. A theatre in London and a venue in Birmingham have refused to host upcoming shows by the rapper after news surfaced the […]

United Kingdom: Painting removed from exhibition over pubic hair

Leena McCall’s painting of a tattooed, pipe-smoking woman with her trousers lowered to reveal pubic hair was removed from the 153rd annual Society of Women Artists exhibit in London by the Mall Galleries. It went viral. The painting was deemed to be “too pornographic and disgusting”, the artist said. The Society of Women Artists told […]

USA: Arts festival censors art piece critical of company that runs display building

A case of censorship at the Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival shows what can happen when art gets into bed with commerce, reported Chicago Reader. The artist Amie Sell was censored because she bit the hand that feeds the Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival. Her installation, Home Sweet Home, was critical of M. Fishman & Co., the […]

China: Government censors exclude artists from Xinjiang Biennale

Ukrainian artist Nikita Kadan is one of 80 artists forced to withdraw from the 2014 Xinjiang Biennale held in the autonomous Chinese region of Xinjiang Uyghur. The artist had been invited to participate and submitted his project ‘Procedure Room’, which pictures police torture in the Ukraine on a set of decorative plates. Nikita Kadan’s project […]

France: Art festival cancelled after censorship row

The 13th edition of the Festival International d’Art Singulier in the city of Aubagne in the south of France has been called off by its organisers, and its director has stepped down, after the municipality tried to censor two works slated to be exhibited. The offending works, dubbed “pornographic” by the mayor’s office, are Marie […]

USA: Opera transmission cancelled over antisemitism concerns

A live transmission of ENO and the Metropolitan Opera’s production of the opera ‘The Death of Klinghoffer’ has been cancelled over concerns about its ‘appropriateness at this time of rising antisemitism’. Freemuse joins the international joint statement: Nat’l and International Organizations Warn That Cancelling ‘Death of Klinghoffer’ Screenings Endangers Creative Freedom, Undermines Institution’s Credibility NEW […]

Australia: Arts minister violates the right to freedom of expression

The Australian arts minister George Brandis has threatened the withdrawal of commonwealth funding for the Sydney Biennale festival for “blackballing” Transfield Holdings after it severed ties with the company because of an artist protest over its contract work on an offshore detention centre, reported The Guardian. The arts minister wrote to the Australia Council, which […]

USA: ‘Censorship’ controversy over school shooting massacre artwork

The National Coalition Against Censorship, with headquarters in New York City, has urged the Emerald Art Center in a strongly worded letter “to revise your exhibition policies to assure that the Emerald Art Center [in Springfield, USA], does not become a repressive censor, trampling the artistic freedom of its own members,” after a piece of […]

China: Hong Kong Ballet ‘self-censorship’ spurs debate on freedom of expression

Suggestions that Hong Kong Ballet removed images from performance because of ‘sensitivities’ prompt worries about freedom of expression, wrote South China Morning Post on 4 November 2013. See on www.scmp.com and on www.choreographingpolitics.org

United Kingdom: Gallery in censorship row over Egyptian posters | Index

The London gallery P21 has been accused of censorship following the decision not to exhibit 12 poster prints satirising Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and jailed former president Mohamed Morsi. Twelve posters by Egyptian artist and graphic designer Ghada Wali, making up the piece ‘Film Ikhwany’, were supposed to be part of the Alexandria portion of the […]

United Kingdom: Gallery censored nude watercolours

Artist reveals her fury after ‘fearful’ gallery censored her nude watercolours with strips of paper A teacher’s complaint during a school trip to an exhibition at Birmingham’s Botanical Gardens prompted the removal of three watercolours of naked women. Later, the watercolours were put back up, but covered with bits of paper. The artist, Danuta Gray, […]

USA: Art exhibition abrubtly cancelled

The art exhibition ‘Prime Example’ was abrubtly cancelled by Herberger Theater Center after photographs by artist Mike Ford were deemed potentially offensive by Bowers and Laurene Austin, Herberger’s director of marketing and development. ‘The Sodomite’ was one of Mike Ford’s works that was set to appear in the show. It’s an image of a man […]

Switzerland: Ban on photographic book

On 24 January 2013, Zurich Civil Court confirmed a ban on the photographic book by Christian Lutz, ‘In Jesus’ Name’, based on complaints from 21 people who appear in the book. The photographer, along with the Musée de l’Elysée and Lars Müller Publishers, have called the ban a “breach of freedom of speech and of […]

Syrian film removed from Egyptian film festival

Official sources at the Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF), which launched on 27 November 2012, said that the Syrian film ‘El Asheq’ (The Lover) was disqualified from the festival’s competition because of the lead actor’s and director’s support for Syria’s current ruler Bashar El-Assad. Syrian film director Abdul Hamid’s ‘El Asheq’ was supposed to had […]

Namibia: Artist banned due to “formal and content” issues

A controversial and edgy exhibition of works by renowned Namibian artist, Imke Rust, has been banned from the Woermannhaus gallery due to the critical stance the artist takes on environmental threats affecting the coast. Other artists are now threatening to boycott the gallery in protest against the decision to ban the work of Imke Rust. […]

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 […]

USA: Art work removed from exhibition after complaints about nudity

The photo art work ‘Quotidian’ by Betsy Schneider documents the artist’s daughter growing up in a series of photographs in which the girl is nude. The work was exhibited at and then removed from the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, USA, in response to complaints about nudity. A coalition of artists, critics, […]

France: Institutional censorship of art to guard ‘cultural neutrality’

“When my voice gets silenced, my rights are affected. When a cultural institution cannot uphold the rights and freedom of intellectual artistic expression of the artists they select to exhibit, it is inexcusable,” wrote the artist Sundus Abdul Hadi in response to the removal of her art piece at an exhibition Institut du Monde Arabe […]

Macedonia: Work of art destroyed for offending religious feelings

The organisers of a festival in Skopje allegedly destroyed a work of art which was already on display on a street-billboard, claiming that it hurt religious feelings, reported Harald Schenker of BalkanInsight The organisers of the festival which is held under the auspices of the City of Skopje decided to remove a billboard i.e. tear into bits […]

German exhibition Documenta accused of censoring art

The German artist Gregor Schneider says that the organisers of the exhibition Documenta 13 have “censored” a work he planned to install in the Karlskirche church in Kassel, home of the quinquennial exhibition until 16 September 2012. Gregor Schneider says that his art piece ‘It’s all Rheydt Kolkata, Kassel 2012’, consisting of material dredged from […]

Censorship controversy at Tunis Art Fair

Hours after the opening of Printemps des Arts fair in Tunis, a controversy broke out when one of the organisers asked the artist Electro Jaye to take down his piece, ‘La république Islaïque de Tunisie’. (The word “islaïque” is a combination of the word “Islam” with the word “laïque,” which means “laic” or “secular.”) The […]

 

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