South Africa: Art destroyed and censored at University of Cape Town

The following blog was written by Gabriel Clark-Brown, publisher and editor of the South African Art Times, owner of the South African Print Gallery in Cape Town, and graduate of the University of Cape Town with a Master’s Degree in Fine Art. The views expressed and research presented in this blog are those of the […]

USA: Sculpture removed after protest

Sam Durant’s controversial large-scale sculpture ‘Scaffold’ was removed from the Walker Art Centre’s sculpture garden in Minneapolis, Minnesota, after members of the Native American community protested the artwork as it partly was modelled on the gallows used to hang 38 Dakota men in 1862, reported Star Tribune on 9 June 2017. The Dakota community and […]

Malaysia: Art group withdraws from show after artwork was removed

Two large pieces of art by Borneo-based art collective Pangrok Sulap were removed from the Escape from the SEA exhibition organised by Japan Foundation Kuala Lumpur (JFKL) allegedly due to complaints over content, reported The Malay Mail Online in March 2016. The first piece, entitled ‘Sabah Tanah Air-Ku’, was removed from the National Visual Arts […]

Russia: Draft bill “protecting values” to be discussed by Duma

By Oksana Chelysheva Russia’s State Duma will discuss a bill at the end of May 2017 that would seek to “protect high important values” in public, extending to art venues and cultural establishments, including galleries, theatres and museums. In March 2017, Russia’s Civic Chamber, the country’s consultative civil society body tasked with analysing draft legislation […]

INSIGHT 2016 publication: Targeting the arts

» Read on Targeting the arts INSIGHT articles about controversies and conflicts over art in 2016 Documenting incidents of censorship will never be enough. From the very beginning, Freemuse has attempted to describe censorship of music and arts in a larger context. In 2015 we introduced INSIGHT – a series of articles providing readers with […]

Germany: Right-wing groups protest installation in Dresden, threaten mayor

The unveiling of artist Manaf Halbouni’s ‘Monument’, a peace memorial inspired by the Syrian war consisting of three buses standing upright on their ends beside the Frauenkirche church in Dresden, drew protests from right-wing groups from the AfD (Alternative for Germany) nationalist party and PEGIDA movement, reported Deutsche Welle on 7 February 2017. Additionally, Dresden […]

Norway: Exhibition attacked; municipality allegedly tries to keep incident quiet

On 1 March 2017, a man tore down and took four of the 25 works by cartoonist Arifur Rahman on display at an exhibition set up for newly arrived asylum seekers in the southern Norwegian city of Drøbak, reported Human Rights Service on 24 March 2017. The man, who behaved in a threatening manner, said […]

Israel: Gallery served eviction notice hours prior to event

Just hours before the Barbur Gallery in Jerusalem hosted an event by Breaking the Silence NGO, which included a discussion of their latest report on Israeli settler influence on Israeli Defence Forces activities in the West Bank, the city municipality ordered the eviction of the independent gallery within 90 days, reported The Times of Israel […]

Ukraine: Art exhibition suffered multiple threats and attacks

More than a dozen masked men stormed into the Visual Culture Research Centre (VCRC) on 7 February 2017, vandalized Davyd Chychkan’s ‘The Lost Opportunity’ exhibition and beat a security guard at the venue in Ukrainian capital Kiev, reported Polish network Political Critique on 8 February 2017. VCRC reported on its Facebook page that just a […]

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 […]

Turkey: Artist sentenced to two years and ten months in prison

Turkish artist, activist and journalist Zehra Doğan was sentenced to two years, nine months and 22 days imprisonment for her painting showing the destruction by Turkish security forces of the Kurdish city of Mardin in the Nusaybin district, reported Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet on 6 March 2017. While on assignment for the all-female news agency JINHA […]

United Kingdom: Paintings stolen and vandalised; death threats received

Artist Russell Haines and members of the clergy of Gloucester Cathedral received anonymous death threats and accusations of blasphemy after several of Haines’ paintings, which were part of an exhibition held in the cathedral portraying people from a wide range of religious beliefs, were stolen or vandalised, reported The Guardian on 12 February 2017. Haines […]

Cuba: Artist El Sexto released after two months in prison

Cuban artist Danilo “El Sexto” Maldonado was released from maximum-security prison on 21 January 2017 after spending two months behind bars and being moved multiple times among several detention centres, reported Artforum on 21 January 2017. El Sexto was released after the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNGWAD) began reviewing a legal petition […]

Censorship continues on online platforms

Online media platforms, such as Instagram, Facebook and YouTube, continue to come under fire for taking down content, including artistic works, seemingly arbitrarily or unevenly, for violations of their standards. In some cases, such platforms go as far as blocking people’s accounts for the content they post. Facebook in particular was at the centre of […]

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 […]

USA: Censorship continues in public spaces and schools

Throughout 2016 and into the beginning of 2017, the US has seen multiple cases of censorship and attempted censorship of art in public spaces and schools. Murals on public walls or in university halls, books in school curricula and productions of plays and musicals have all been targeted by a variety of groups because of […]

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 […]

Turkey: Detained artist released, awaiting trial

Turkish artist, activist and journalist Zehra Doğan was released from Turkey’s Mardin Women’s Prison on 9 December 2016 after having been arrested and detained on 21 July 2016 on charges of being a “member of an illegal organisation”. Though free, Doğan will face trial in Febraury 2017, reported IFEX on 21 December 2016. Prosecutors used […]

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 […]

Turkey: Two sculptures removed after protests

City officials removed a sculpture from outside the A Plus shopping mall in the western part of Istanbul just two days after it went up after a “big crowd” protested the work, reported Artnet on 29 December 2016. Ahmet Güneştekin’s word sculpture featuring the old name for Istanbul – Konstantiniyye – in large, colourful block […]

Israel: Art featuring ministers stirs controversy

Two recent displays of art featuring Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu have caused renewed uproar over art and freedom of expression in the major cities of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Controversy erupted at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem after a provocative poster featuring Netanyahu with a hangman’s noose was displayed at […]

India: Art exhibition vandalised, artist attacked

On 8 December 2016, right-wing activists from two different groups stormed the fourth annual Jaipur Art Summit, damaged paintings, attacked and injured a painter, and stole a painting in protest of it featuring semi-nude women, reported India Today on 8 December 2016. “It happened so fast. Painting is your heart, it is your baby. It […]

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 […]

Sweden: Outdoor sculpture partly burned down

Around a quarter of Lars Vilks’ large outdoor sculpture in the Kullaberg nature reserve in southwest Sweden was burned down in an incident police suspect to be arson, reported Afton Bladet on 24 November 2016. The artwork, entitled ‘Nimis’, consists of a series of wooden sculptures made out of 75 tonnes of driftwood and is […]

Turkey: The Freemuse Files on Censorship of the Arts

For almost 20 years, Freemuse has documented violations on freedom of musical expressions and since 2012 also violations on other art forms in Turkey. ‘Turkey – The Freemuse Files’ is the first in a series of Freemuse compilations. The idea is to provide our readers, network partners and policy makers with an easy, quick overview […]

Sweden: New report examines threats against commissioners of art

Art galleries, publishers, libraries, museums and other promoters and curators of art, along with their staff, like artists, are also victims of attack for showing or making art available to the public and audiences, a new report by the Swedish Agency for Cultural Policy published 30 November 2016 revealed. The report, ‘Custodians or guards? Commissioning […]

Cuba: Artist El Sexto violently arrested over Castro-related graffiti

Cuban artist Danilo “El Sexto” Maldonado was violently arrested by state security forces at his apartment in capital Havana, on 26 November 2016, hours after he took to the streets, upon the official announcement of Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro’s death, and painted graffiti around the city stating “se fue”(he’s gone), reported Cuban newspaper 14ymedio […]

Iran: Art gallery owning couple held in detention since July without charge

In late July 2016, Islamic Revolutionary Guards detained art gallery owners Afarin Niasari and her Iranian-American husband Karan Vafadari at the Tehran airport, where they were arrested and taken to Iran’s infamous Evin Prison, reported International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran on 2 December 2016. The couple have been held without charge or access […]

Malaysia: Cartoonist arrested after exhibition attack

Cartoonist Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque, popularly known as Zunar, was arrested on 26 November 2016 for breaching the peace under Malaysia’s Sedition Act, just one day after an angry pro-government mob attacked his exhibition of satirical cartoons about the prime minister and other national leaders at the George Town Literary Festival, reported newspaper Free Malaysia Today. […]

China: Art film censored by cultural bureau

On 7 November 2016, the Shanghai Cultural Bureau censored a film by artist Sun Xun at the private Minsheng Art Museum without giving a reason, reported The Art Newspaper on 8 November 2016. A sign next to the empty screen that was to show Sun’s 2011 woodcut animation ‘Some Actions which Haven’t Been Defined Yet […]

Iran: Artist awaits appeal of five-year prison sentence

Iranian artist and painter Shahriar Siroos is awaiting a judgment on his appeal over his five-year prison sentence handed down by Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court in September 2016 on charges of establishing a group to “perturb the security of the country” related to him teaching art classes at his home, reported International Campaign […]

Egypt: Downtown Cairo art gallery raided by police

Police and national security officials stormed the Mashrabia Gallery for Contemporary Art in downtown Cairo on 31 October 2016, a gallery employee told Freemuse, speaking on condition of anonymity, saying it took everyone at the gallery “completely by surprise”. Rather than raiding the gallery and asking for its license or official documents, the employee said […]

Uruguay: Police asks gallery to remove nude painting of politician couple

Julio de Sosa’s ‘Genesis’ painting portraying former Uruguayan presidential couple José Mujica and Lucía Topolansky as Adam and Eve, was taken off the walls from an exhibition at the Diana Saravia Art Gallery in downtown Montevideo on the command of police, reported El País de Uruguay on 20 October 2016.  According to gallery owner Diana […]

Bolivia: Feminist mural criticising church and state censored

On 12 October 2016, a group of unidentified people painted over a mural just one day after it had been finished and displayed on the façade of the Museo Nacional de Arte (National Art Museum) in La Paz, Bolivia, because the group was strongly offended by its negative and graphic portrayal of two core Bolivian […]

Estonia: Museum cracks under religious pressure, alters Virgin Mary exhibit

The newly opened National Museum of Estonia in the city of Tartu caved under pressure from religious groups, politicians and the public and altered an art exhibit featuring the Virgin Mary, reported news media non-profit Transitions Online on 17 October 2016. The exhibit featured a virtual image of the Virgin Mary projected onto glass panels […]

South Korea: Alleged government blacklist of 9,473 artists over politics

South Korean daily newspaper Hankook Ilbo revealed on 11 October 2016 that the South Korean government blacklisted 9,473 artists from receiving state support, including financial support, due to their political activity of either being critical of the current government or backing opposition politicians, reported The Korea Times on 12 October 2016. The 100-page blacklist is […]

France: Art installation defaced by Turkish MP assistant

A 1,000-photo-collage art installation at the Council of Europe (CoE) headquarters in Strasbourg, France, was defaced by the parliamentary assistant of a Turkish member of the Assembly when they sliced off the “edited and toned down” version of the infamous Danish Prophet Muhammad cartoon, reported The Malta Independent on 14 October 2016. Norbert Francis Attard, […]

Global: Anonymous art in public spaces

Index on Censorship published an article on 21 September 2016 about visual and graffiti artists displaying their art in public spaces under anonymity to protect themselves and their personal safety as many countries have vague laws about art in public spaces or the intent of content. The article explores the reality and motivations of these […]

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.   […]

China: Ai Weiwei pulled from exhibition under political pressure

Outspoken Chinese artist Ai Weiwei was dropped from the Yinchuan Biennale exhibition just weeks before it was scheduled to open due to “governmental pressure”, as confirmed by the Biennial Foundation, the New York-based group organising the exhibit, reported The New York Times on 26 August 2016. The artist received what he called “a vague letter” […]

USA: Artworks featuring guns seized at airport

Customs officials at Houston, Texas’ Bush airport have held three pieces of art made from decommissioned AK-47 assault rifles by British artist Bran Symondson, who was in the city to hold an art show, reported KPRC Houston on 11 August 2016. The artist’s works take real AK-47s and covers them in a variety of materials, […]

Australia: Artist censors own mural

Street artist Lushsux, known for his controversial public art, censored his own mural on the side of a Melbourne business showing a nearly nude Hillary Clinton in a U.S.-flag swimsuit with $100 bills stuffed into it by covering her up in a niqab after the local council deemed it offensive, reported ABC News on 2 […]

Australia: Distributors force art magazine to censor cover

The August 2016 issue of Australian arts magazine featuring a painting of a pregnant, nude woman by well-known, New York-based artist Lisa Yuskavage has been censored at newsstands after distributors forced editors to either package the issue in an opaque sleeve or cover up the nipples of the subject, reported Australia’s ABC on 9 August […]

Denmark/USA: Artists censored in public spaces

Art in public spaces raises several issues around acceptable content/subject matter, including nudity, race, politics or obscenity, who is funding the work, whether it’s government, business or private individuals, and what the processes are behind who decides what goes up or comes down and why. Three recent incidents of art in public spaces in Denmark and […]

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 […]

USA: Gun removed from art piece in university museum

University of Houston officials and police censored artist Alton Dulaney’s ‘ARTGun’ work by removing the gun from the piece while on display at the campus museum, reported Houston Press on 4 May 2016. Dulaney wanted his piece to act as commentary on the gun culture of the country, and especially in the state of Texas, […]

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, […]

Russia: Performance artist Pavlensky released with fine

The ‘art or arson’ court case against Pyotr Pavlensky for setting fire to the door of the Federal Security Service – the KGB successor – has finally come to a verdict at a Moscow court on 8 June 2016. Surprisingly Pavlensky was released, though he was at the same time sentenced to pay a fine of […]

Malaysia: Artist charged over caricature of prime minister

Malaysian ‘visual disobedience’ artist Fahmi Reza has been charged over a clown caricature of Malaysian Prime Minister Razak. He faces a possible one-year prison sentence and a US$16,580 fine, said his attorney according to AFP on 6 June 2016. On his Facebook page, the 38-year-old artist wrote: “I am not afraid to stand trial for […]

Turkey: Local man smashes “obscene” sculpture

A wooden sculpture by Amancio Gonzalez Andres entitled ‘Musician’ featured at the Izmirspor metro station in western Turkey was smashed by a local man who called the statue “obscene”, Hurriyet News reported on 27 May 2016. Sculptor Andres told Birgün newspaper on 27 May 2016 he condemned the attack on his art piece and that […]

Russia: Artist convicted to 16 months in prison for vandalism

A Moscow court found Russian dissident artist Pyotr Pavlensky guilty of vandalism, Dimitri Kozlov of the Associated Press reported on 19 May 2016. The artist was convicted for setting fire to car tires on Saint Petersburg’s Tripartite Bridge during a pro-Ukraine performance, titled ‘Freedom’, in February 2014. While the court sentenced Pavlensky to 16 months […]

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 […]

INSIGHT 2015 publication: Targeting the arts

» Read on Targeting the arts INSIGHT articles about controversies and conflicts over art in 2015 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 […]

Turkey: Art exhibitions cancelled, a troubling trend

Turkey continues to repress artists from expressing their thoughts and ideas under the guise of a variety of concerns, including national security.  Visual artists, gallery owners, curators and collectives are having their works shut down or are choosing to self-censor under intense pressure from authorities and social groups. Sara Whyatt explains one of the recent […]

Iran: Artist Atena Farghadani released from prison

The Iranian artist Atena Farghadani, who was sentenced to 12 years and nine months in prison last June for her satirical cartoon of members of the Iranian government, was released on 3 May 2016, according to Amnesty International. Her freedom comes following a successful appeal in April 2016 to have her sentence reduced to 18 […]

Iran: Imprisoned cartoonist wins appeal, soon free

Iranian artist and cartoonist Aten Farghadani will be released from prison on 11 May 2016, according to her lawyer Mohammad Moghimi, after an appeals court reduced her original 12-year-and-nine-month sentence down to 18 months, reported IranWire on 25 April 2016. “Miss Farghadani has been acquitted of the charges of ‘gathering and colluding with counter-revolutionary elements’ […]

Ireland: Risqué painting removed after parent and staff complaints

A satirical painting by Joe McNicholas entitled ‘An Irish Political Allegory’ was removed from the ‘Spring Notes’ exhibition at the Cork School of Music after complaints over some of its imagery, reported Irish Independent on 9 April 2016. The painting includes images of seven Fianna Fáil (Republican Party) heads of government, known as Taoisigh, in […]

Sweden: New report calls threat to art a threat to democracy

One out of three Swedish writers and visual artists have been exposed to threats, harassment, violence or vandalism, revealed a new report, ‘Culture under threat?’, published 14 April 2016 by Kulturanalys, the Swedish Agency for Cultural Policy. “The extent of this is so great that it must be seen as a real problem,” the agency’s […]

Cuba: Artists and activists detained for eight hours

During the American president’s visit to the country, Cuba has seen a crack-down on the opposition and activists. Two artists, rock musician Gorki and visual street artist El Sexto, were arrested on 20 March 2016 along with several other demonstrators from Damas de Blanco – the Ladies in White – during a pro-democracy demonstration. The incident took […]

Facebook: Artist banned for nude pencil drawing of Donald Trump

Australian artist Illma Gore might permanently be banned from Facebook for posting her pencil drawing of nude US presidential hopeful Donald Trump in mid-February 2016, she told arts website Hyperallergic in a story published on 11 March 2016. Though Gore posted her drawing to a private group on 10 February 2016, Facebook contacted the artist […]

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 […]

Mexico: Colombian painter censored in museum exhibition

The Museo Nacional de la Acuarela ‘Alfredo Guati Rojo’ in Mexico City has refused to display a painting by Colombian artist Darío Ortiz Robledo, considering it “too hard and offensive for some sensibilities”, due to its mix of nudity and religious symbols, reported Mexican newspaper La Jornada on 8 March 2016. In an interview with […]

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 […]

Italy: Nude statues covered up for Iranian president

Classic nude statues were covered up in Rome’s Capitoline museum when Iranian president Hassan Rouhani walked through its halls during his Italy visit, reported The Guardian on 27 January 2016. Rouhani and Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi held a press conference in the museum and it is supposed the statues were covered up so as […]

Denmark: Ban reversed on nude photo exhibit

If you can exploit women’s bodies in advertising in the public space, then why can’t an artist exhibit nude photos in the same space? This is the question photographer Mathilde Grafström asked when her exhibition was banned in December 2015 in Copenhagen; but police have now reconsidered the case, reported Danish newspaper Politiken on 20 […]

Nigeria: Artists’ Village demolished

On 23 January 2016 the Artists’ Village at the National Arts Theatre in Lagos was demolished on the orders of the theatre’s management, reported news portal Artists said demolition began at around five o’clock in the morning under the supervision of the theatre’s general manager Kabiru Yusuf who was guarded by a team of […]

Lebanon: Sculptures spark suspicion of Satanism

Over 20 of Michel Elefteriades’ sculptures have been seized by Lebanese authorities on the grounds that they could be interpreted as Satanist symbols, reported online arts portal Hyperallergic on 21 January 2016. On 6 January 2016 police arrested a worker at the bronze factory that Elefteriades uses to cast his sculptures and then summoned the […]

Egypt five years after the revolution: Artistic freedom is stifled

In the wake of a security clampdown on free expression since the military takeover of the country in July 2013, rights advocates lament that the space for free artistic expression and creativity has diminished in Egypt as restrictions on art and literary works that address politics, sex and religion, remain firmly in place.  By Shahira […]

Denmark: Lego changes bulk buy policy after Ai Weiwei backlash

Lego has said it is reversing its policy on bulk purchases and will no longer ask customers what they want to use the bricks for. The U-turn follows a recent controversy involving Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. This was reported by BBC News In October 2015, Ai Weiwei accused Lego of censorship when it refused to […]

Muzzled in Zimbabwe: One artist’s struggle to exhibit

Zimbabwean artist Owen Maseko first hit the headlines in March 2010 when he was arrested for exhibiting paintings and installations that depicted an episode of the country’s history that the government would rather not discuss. From 1983 to 1987 the army unleashed an orgy of violence on the people of Matabeleland and parts of the […]

Venezuela: When censorship is social

Interview with the Venezuelan artist Daniel Arzola about the oppressiveness of social norms. By Laura Vidal   Gender fluidity, the oppressiveness of social norms, and the dignity of the LGBT community are at the centre of Daniel Arzola’s art and visual campaigns, most notably the project ‘No soy tu chiste’ (‘I’m not a joke’), which […]

USA: News outlets censor Modigliani nude

The $170.4 million sale of Modigliani’s ‘Reclining Nude’ made news in November 2015 not only for its price tag at auction, but also because some outlets in the USA chose to blur out or cover up parts of the naked female body depicted in the painting. Bloomberg news and CNBC, for example chose to blur […]

Spain: Censorship controversy affects international art committee

Censorship row sees three Spanish music directors resign and a petition protesting decisions of the board of the International Committee for Museums and Collections of Modern Art In March 2015, Bartomeu Marí resigned as the director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Barcelona (Macba) after a censorship row over a controversial installation on display […]

India: Police remove floating cow art and detain artists

In India two artists were detained for their work on 21 November 2015: a life-size styrofoam art installation of a flying cow in Rajasthan’s Jaipur city. Following protests by right-wing Hindu groups alleging their religious sentiments were hurt, local police dismantled the work and detained the two artists. Later, amid public outrage, the chief minister […]

China: Authorities ban art exhibition on violence against women

Beijing authorities banned an art exhibition about feminism and domestic violence just before it was set to open, organisers said on 26 November 2015. The exhibition, timed for the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, was due to open on 25 November 2015 at Beijing’s Gingko Space art gallery. More […]

Singapore: Arts council to withdraw funding of ‘offensive arts’, says chairman

The chairman of the National Arts Council in Singapore weighed in on an ongoing debate in the country over whether state funding for the arts should be used to enforce censorship. In her speech at the opening of the Singapore International Film Festival on 26 November 2015, Professor Chan Heng Chee brought up a 1998 […]

USA: Convicted Native American activist’s paintings removed from exhibition

Four paintings by Leonard Peltier, a Native American activist who is serving two consecutive life sentences for the deaths of two FBI agents in 1975, will be taken down from an exhibition in Tumwater, Washington, after complaints from an association of retired law enforcement officers. The paintings are being displayed in the lobby of the […]

United Kingdom: Painting sparks controversy in Northern Ireland

A painting in an exhibition at the Ulster Museum has drawn ire by the Orange Order, an international Protestant organisation based primarily in Northern Ireland, because they say members of their group are depicted wearing Ku Klux Klan garb, the British newspaper The Independent reported. The group lodged their complaint on 4 November 2015, which […]

Turkey: EU and UN address Turkey’s troublesome arts freedom record

Significant shortcomings in the promotion of democracy and human rights feature highly in the European Commission’s 2015 Progress Report on Turkey, which points to ‘significant backsliding’ on protection of freedom of expression in the last two years after several years of progress. By Sara Whyatt   The report refers to a worrying number of writers […]

Macedonia: Artists falling prey to censorship

Critics claim there is a growing trend in Macedonia that artists who explore controversial issues calling into question the state or church are being censored and are practising self-censorship, Balkan Insight reported. A recent case in 2014 involved an artist, Irena Paskali, who created a billboard asking why so many Macedonians accepted being double-billed for […]

Russia: Art gallery owner evicted

Marat Guelman was handed an eviction notice to clear out of his rented exhibition space in Moscow’s Winzavod art centre by 5 November 2015. He was served the notice on 20 October 2015, just two days after he hosted an auction to help 12 people who were imprisoned for participating in a 2012 protest against […]

Zimbabwe: Visual artist’s new works once again pulled down

Bulawayo-based visual artist, Owen Maseko, has drawn attention from authorities when one of his new displays was pulled down on 30 October 2015 – less than a day after it was unveiled in his ‘Kwacha’ exhibition, reported Bulawayo24 News. In the video below, one can see authorities moving the sculpture from the art gallery and […]

Cuba: Graffiti artist released from prison after 10 months

The Cuban artist El Sexto (real name: Danilo Maldonado) was freed from prison in the morning on 20 October 2015. Despite having resumed a hunger strike four days earlier, he said he was in good health. El Sexto was freed after having been held 10 months behind bars without charges, allegedly for attempting to release […]

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 […]

USA/Europe: Less incidents of arts censorship over indecency

On 28 September 2015, Apollo Magazine published an article by Philippa Malas which seeks to analyse the current situation for freedom of artistic expression in Europe and the United States. The article runs through examples of how issues of freedom of expression and art are currently playing out in various countries. In May 2015, the […]

Cuba: Repression and resistance – story of ‘The Sixth Prisoner’

Danilo Maldonado, the Cuban graffiti artist commonly known as ‘El Sexto’, is fighting imprisonment with paper. Since December 2014, repression of artists in Cuba has increased significantly. Despite warming relations with the United States. By Pamela Kalkman The drawing below shows a man who, even with a pig’s nose, a cap, and sunglasses, bares an […]

United Kingdom: Artwork removed from free speech exhibition

In September 2015, ‘Isis Threaten Sylvania’, a series of seven satirical light box tableaux by the London-based artist Mimsy, was removed from the ‘Passion for Freedom’ exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London after police raised concerns about the “potentially inflammatory content” of the work. The decision to remove the work from the exhibition came after the […]

China: Artist on censorship and finding freedom in the provinces

Provincial cities like Wuhan might provide more freedom from official intervention, reported Lise Movius in The Art Newspaper on 23 September 2015 in connection with her interview with Zhang Dali – an artist who is known for his controversial graffiti, paintings and sculptures and who is now due to have his first retrospective in Wuhan. […]

South Korea: Arts Council accused of political censorship

Through Arts Council Korea, the Korean government allegedly attempts to censor cultural contents. Artists and their projects have been banned from government financial support for political reasons, reported Korea Herald on 22 September 2015. Yeo Jun-suk wrote for Korea Herald that lawmakers from the main opposition party have upped their pressure on the government to […]

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 […]

Russia: Art exhibition attacked and vandalised

On 26 August 2015, two people, a man and a woman, vandalised an art exhibition in Manège, an art exhibition hall in Manezhny Dvor in Moscow which has a history of controversy. This is Moscow Manège where the USSR Communist Party Secretary General Nikita Khruschov back in 1962 lambasted artists for their ‘degenerating art’. 80 […]

Cuba: Imprisoned artist El Sexto on hunger strike

Freemuse calls for the release of imprisoned Cuban artists The Cuban graffiti artist and activist Danilo Maldonado Machado, best known as El Sexto, who has been arbitrarily imprisoned for eight months in the Valle Grande prison, located west of Havana, has initiated a hunger strike, according to El Nuevo Harald and various other sources. El […]

Cuba: Dissident artist released after eight months of detention

Performance artist Tania Bruguera, who had her passport confiscated in Cuba after trying to stage a performance about freedom of expression in a public plaza in Havana, is back in the United States, according to a statement issued by #YoTambienExijo, the art and activism program run by Bruguera and her sister Deborah. Her return caps […]

Pakistan: Gallery ‘cutting the cord of censorship’

“Despite living in a country where enforced censorship and lack of tolerance is rife, Zarmeene Shah, curator of ‘Parrhesia II’ at Koel Gallery, feels the heart of this concept lies in the risk taken by any artist attempting to speak the truth.” Shanzay Subzwari’s art review: ‘Cutting the cord of censorship’, 19 July 2015 » Read […]

USA: Schools curtail student’s artistic freedom – NCAC

With high-profile police brutality stories making national headlines, it is natural that young artists would seek to confront these issues in their work. But outside pressure — often from police groups — has led some schools to curtail student speech and artistic freedom. By National Coalition Against Censorship A March 2015 student exhibit at a […]

Canada: Row over ‘institutional censorship’ of arts instructor

Capilano University’s leadership is being called to apologise for censoring a former studio arts instructor – or risk becoming a pariah institution among academics, a report concluded. Studio arts instructor George Rammell created ‘Blathering on in Krisendom’, a caricature of university president Kris Bulcroft and her poodle Margaux, and displayed it on campus as an act […]

Iran: Cartoonist convicted several years in prison for her art

Iranian designer and cartoonist Atena Farghadani could face years in prison for having drawn an image depicting members of the Iranian parliament as monkeys and cows. On 19 May 2015, she was convicted to 12 years imprisonment (some sources say 14 years). She has appealed the verdict. Cartoonists around the world have been drawing in […]

Cuba: Artist Tania Bruguera arrested again in Havana

On 7 June 2015, artist Tania Bruguera was arrested once again in Cuba, along with dozens of other activists, and was manhandled by the police, reported Hyperallergic. As with most information about Bruguera over the past few months, the news — which Hyperallergic has not been able to independently verify — comes via the Facebook […]

Turkey: Artists under pressure – a year of trials and penalties

Yesterday, Turkey’s voters headed towards the ballot boxes to place their votes in the 7 June general elections. As the election day approached, threats to the media, both veiled and overt, were in the air. This was not entirely unexpected, given that Turkey’s poor record of protection of the right to freedom of expression is well-known. […]

USA: Fox News station censors Picasso masterpiece

A Picasso painting which broke the record for the most expensive painting ever sold at auction was censored on Fox News. The 1955 painting titled ‘The Women of Algiers (Version O)’ sold for $179 million at Christie’s in New York. Fox5NY which covers New York City took the decision to blur out the nipples on […]

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 […]

Russia: Graphic novel about Holocaust banned for its cover

The American radio broadcaster NPR’s Robert Siegel talks with author and illustrator Art Spiegelman about how his book ‘Maus’, the very antithesis of Nazi propaganda, was purged from Moscow stores because of a swastika on the cover. » Sourced through from:

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 […]

France: Verdict of three years imprisonment to rapper in Marseilles

The court in Marseilles summoned the French-Algerian rapper Lacrim (real name: Karim Zenoud), but he didn’t show up in court. He was consequently given status as a fugitive and sentenced in absentia to three years imprisonment. Lacrim was charged in court because of the video for his song ‘Viens, je t’emmène’, in which he uses […]

A brush too far? Six art pieces that stirred controversy in Africa

“A selection of bold, daring and provocative art makes up this list of six art pieces from around the continent. In one way or another, they challenged the communities they appeared in. Sometimes the artwork offended people’s political sensibilities, sometimes it challenged people’s sense of African social norms and customs. All this boundary-pushing art has […]

China: Tibetan monk and artist reportedly arrested

41-year-old Tibetan monk and artist of traditional thanka painting, Ngawang Gyaltsen, is reported to have been arrested by Chinese police in Nagchu County of Central Tibet on 24 February 2015. The exact reason of his arrest remains unclear, reported Ngawang Tharpa, an exile Tibetan with contacts in the region, said his sources indicated the arrest […]

USA: California college removes art project after complaints

A class of art students at Santa Barbara City College in California built a wooden teepee, but complaints from indigenous students who said they were offended by it led to its prompt removal. The teepee was removed after Native American students complained to school administrators and claimed they were offended by it. SBCC President Lori […]

Saudi Arabia: ‘Art is Halal’ poster campaign sparks lively debate

In Saudi Arabia, social media users have engaged in rare criticism of rulers over their arts policy in light of campaign by three female artists. The aim of the campaign, the artists say, is to provoke a public debate about the limits of freedom of expression in art. A trio of three young students and […]

United Kingdom: Public debate warns of self-censorship in the arts

Artistic institutions in Britain are increasingly self-censoring subversive material to secure funding and avoid protests, according to a panel of arts grandees. Jude Kelly, artistic director of the Southbank Centre, Munira Mirza, deputy mayor for education and culture, and Shami Chakrabarti, director of human rights organisation Liberty were among those who called the rise of […]

Vietnam: Shifting tensions in Vietnamese contemporary art

An article by Art Radar highlights how Vietnam’s blossoming contemporary art scene is held in check through a complex set of bureaucratic hurdles coupled with hit-and-miss government censorship and lack of critical infrastructure funding, at a time when it should be enriching, not sabotaging this shining asset. Licenses are needed to display any type of […]

Cuba: Graffiti artist arrested over insulting leaders

Danilo Maldonado, a graffiti artist better known as ‘El Sexto’ (The Sixth), was arrested again on 26 December 2014 while driving two pigs to a Havana park, prior to one of his scheduled visual art performances, reported Capitol Hill Cubans. He is facing three years in prison. The performance allegedly entailed releasing the two pigs […]

Norway: World women gathering to explore freedom of expression

On 30-31 January 2015, an unusual gathering of world women will unfold over two days of conversations and performances at Riksscenen in Oslo, Norway. The summit is organised by artist and activist Deeyah Khan. ‘World Woman’ is “a convening of courageous and creative women who are defenders of freedom of expression, campaigners for gender equality, […]

United Kingdom: Syrian artist denied UK visa will miss his own exhibition

One of Syria’s most prominent artists has been denied a visa to travel to the UK for the opening of his own exhibition in London. Thaier Helal, widely known in Syria for his neo-expressionist works, was denied entry to Britain by the Home Office. He was due to appear at an exhibition of his works […]

Japan: Exhibition of Unfreedom of Expression

“Is Japan a nation of free speech? How much freedom of expression do people enjoy in this country?” asks Reiji Yoshida and Kazuaki Nagata in an article in The Japan Times about an ‘Exhibition of Unfreedom of Expression’ which is on display in a small gallery in Tokyo until 1 February 2015. The exhibition showcases […]

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 […]

Singapore: New American freedom of art award

The Indonesian artist FX Harsono received an inaugural Freedom of Art award in Singapore on 20 January 2015. It was presented to him by the U.S. ambassador to Singapore and the director of Art Stage Singapore. The Joseph Balestier Award for the Freedom of Art honours an artist or curator from Southeast Asia who has dedicated a […]

Japan: Artist imprisoned over ‘obscene’ kayak design

When Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi began to make plaster casts of her genitalia and show them in exhibitions, she accepted some people might be upset. But she could not have imagined she would end up in prison. Megumi Igarashi has spent 10 days in a Tokyo women’s prison. Her crime, the police say, was sending […]

USA: Arts advocacy project displays 24 censored works

In its latest newsletter, National Coalition Against Censorship looks back at art censorship incidents in 2014 and launches an “arts advocacy project”. NCAC writes: “Don’t hold your breath for nipple reveals or cock shows – while artistic representations of nudes remain a regular target of censorship, the most compelling and controversial artwork in 2014 came […]

Norwegian PEN publishes report about freedom of expression in Turkey

The Norwegian PEN has published a special report titled ‘Turkey: Free Expression Under a Shadow’. In the 60-page report, data and information related to violations of freedom of expression, the effects of the judicial system and the law on freedom of expression, self-censorship, the pressure on press, hate speech and freedom of religion and conscience […]

South Africa: Artist threatened for public space art project

The South African artist Michael Elion has been threatened by users on social media for his giant public space art project ‘Madiba glasses’. The heated debate surrounding his sunglasses installation Perceiving Freedom, his tribute to Nelson Mandela, eliciting violent responses from some of the users online. It all came to a head when he discovered […]

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 […]

China: President delivers directions to artists

On 15 October 2014, the Chinese president Xi Jinping delivered a speech about the importance of arts to some of China’s leading creative figures. The Chinese state news agency Xinhua quoted President Xi Jinping as having said that “Academic and artistic democracy should also be promoted to allow for full discussions between groups holding different […]

China: Authorities have arrested numerous artists

Chinese authorities are reported to have arrested at least five artists on the Chinese mainland who have shown support for pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. The Chinese authorities are determined to prevent pro-democracy rallies in Hong Kong from spilling across the border into the mainland, so they have detained at least 10 people, including a […]

Myanmar/Burma: How censorship shaped an artist

In this 5-minute video film, an artist offers a peek into the underground of Myanmar where artists are taking their non-violent fight for freedom of expression to the streets. “They destroyed our art in a very ruthless way.” A young graffiti artist in Myanmar was censored for using the orange colour – associated with monks […]

USA: Ai Weiwei exhibition features music by imprisoned musicians

A new exhibition by the acclaimed Chinese artist Ai Weiwei opened on 27 September 2014 on Alcatraz near San Fransisco, USA. It features music by Tibetan singer Lolo and Pussy Riot, highlighting threads which connect artists around the planet who face harassment, pressure, persecution, prosecution and even death for expressing their opinion and their art. […]

United Kingdom: Common statement in defense of offensive art

“We must prevent the repetition of recent ‘successful protests’ in which the artist is silenced by threats of violence towards the institution, the work or the artist him or herself, as we saw with ‘Exhibit B’ in London, and ‘The City’, the hip-hop opera by the Jerusalem-based Incubator Theatre company” The right to protest but […]

China: Arts and social media increasingly restricted

The director of the annual Beijing Independent Film Festival was jailed and forced to promise not to open the festival. The move comes as social media, arts, and religion are increasingly restricted. China sees and intensified campaign against activity not considered in line with orthodox party thinking under President Xi Jinping. The broadening range of […]

South Korea: Resignation and boycott in controversy over censorship

The president of the Gwangju Biennale Foundation, Lee Yong-woo, has resigned over the censorship of a painting which was included in the Gwangju Bienniale’s 20th anniversary exhibition ‘Sweet Dew—After 1980’ at the Gwangju Museum of Art. In an almost ironical contrast to the controversy which has erupted over the censorship incident, the video trailer promoting […]

Ukraine: Abducted street artist released briefly, then imprisoned again

The 47-year-old Ukrainian artist Serhiy Zakharov is being persecuted for having displayed caricature installations in the streets of Donetsk which ridiculed local rebel leaders. On 6 August 2014, Serhiy Zakharov was abducted by a group of armed men who appeared at his home. His artwork and computer were also seized. He was taken to the […]

South Korea: President of biennale resigns over artistic censorship

The president of the Gwangju Biennale Foundation, Lee Yong-woo, has resigned over the censorship of a painting included in the Gwangju Bienniale‘s 20th anniversary exhibition, ‘Sweet Dew—After 1980’, at the Gwangju Museum of Art in South Korea. The offending artwork, a 32-foot-wide painting by Hong Seong-dam titled Sewol Owol, portrays Korean president Park Geun-hye as a maniacal scarecrow […]

Canada: Re-opened petition to minister to end confiscation of Iranian artwork

After weeks of battle for artist Sadaf Foroughi as she tried to rescue the centerpiece of her federally subsidised art installation – a traditional Iranian ‘peep box’ known as a ‘shahre farang’ – from being destroyed after it had been intercepted by airport customs, Sadaf Foroughi succeeded in winning the right to claim her cargo. […]

China: Inflatable frog censored after comparisons to ex-leader

China’s newest celebrity is a large inflatable toad floating in the middle of a Beijing pond, but mentions of the giant frog have disappeared from some of China’s news and social media sites after some netizens pointed out similarities to Jiang Zemin, China’s retired leader. » Sourced through from:

China: Art exhibition with North Korean artist shut by police

The North Korean artist and dissident Sun Mu, who for security reasons has a secret identity, has been prevented from exhibiting his work in China. This was reported by the Swedish Broadcasting Corporation and the South Korean news agency Yonhap. At the opening of Sun Mu’s exhibition of satirical imitations of North Korean propaganda at […]

USA: Petition to help artist arrested for painting a utility box

In California, USA, a local artist involved in helping build City of Santa Ana’s public art scene was arrested on 2 July 2014 for painting an electrical box. Artist Tony Pedraza faces up to a year in prison for making a piece of art that was done wholeheartedly with pride and love for his community. […]

Japan: ‘Vagina artist’ released after one week in prison

42-year-old sculptor and illustrator Megumi Igarashi has been released after spending a week in jail for distributing digital data that made it possible to recreate her genitals with a 3D printer, a possible violation of the Japanese law banning the distribution of “obscene” material, the Kyodo news agency reported Saturday. Megumi Igarashi who works under the alias […]

Israel: Palestinian artist prevented from travelling to New York for exhibition

The Palestinian artist Khaled Jarrar, who is known for his work about the West Bank barrier, has been prevented from travelling to New York for an opening of his exhibition, reported Khaled Jarrar was stopped by the Israeli authorities at the crossing into Jordan, according to the website +972. » The Art Newspaper – 15 […]

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 […]

Egypt: Finnish and Egyptian street artists labeled ‘terrorists’ for graffiti art project

Sampsa, a street artist from Finland, is wanted in Egypt for his art, and the Egyptian artist Ganzeer has been forced into hiding. A German artist collective, Captain Borderline, has been involved in the street art ‘terrorism’ as well. In the article titled ‘Artist Collective Labeled Terrorists in Egypt’ on, posted on 27 May […]

Cuba: Graffiti artist El Sexto charged and detained

The Cuban graffiti artist Danilo Maldonado, known as ‘El Sexto’ (The Sixth), has been in custody since 4 July 2014, charged with “violation of domicile and injury”. According to Cuban activists, Maldonado will be prosecuted by the Cuban authorities under the pretense of a common crime. As a general rule, people critical of the government are […]

France: Mayor censors mural at ceramics museum

A mural by Jérôme Galvin commissioned for the grand reopening of a ceramics museum in a small French village was censored by the town’s new mayor who deemed Galvin’s images “insanities, vices, pornography” in an official statement. “In the room devoted to grotesque ceramics, I created a five-meter mural,” Galvin told Libération. “I took inspiration […]

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 […]

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 […]

China: Exclusive essay by Ai Weiwei: ‘On Self-Censorship’

This month, Ai Weiwei withdrew his work from a show at Beijing’s influential Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, a tribute to the late scholar Hans Van Dijk, with whom he worked closely, reported Huffington Post. It was a move made in protest: In a series of correspondences that surfaced online, UCCA chief Xue Mei admitted […]

Turkey abuse laws to punish artists challenging authorities

Law suits, arrests, threats and banning orders, these are all dangers that artists in Turkey who touch on sensitive issues face today. This is pointed out by the UPR submission that Freemuse, Siyah Bant and the Initiative for Freedom of Expression has forwarded to the UN. The Turkish Anti Terror Law (TMK) continues to be […]

United Kingdom: Painting banned for showing naked gay couple having sex

A council in Northern Ireland has banned a painting by the artist Ursula Burke because it features a naked gay couple having sex. The piece was supposed to go on show at the FE McWilliam Gallery in Banbridge, Co Down. A council spokesman said the decision was made as the image was considered inappropriate for […]

China: Artist detained for two weeks and then to be expelled

52-year-old Chinese-born Australian artist Guo Jian was abruptly taken by police from his studio in Songzhuang on 1 June 2014. He will reportedly be “required to depart China” after serving a 15-day period of “administrative detention”. Mr Guo was detained the day after the publication of an interview with him in Financial Times, which featured […]



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