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Update: Dangerous Art...

Pakistan arts college recalls journal featuring controversial paintings after receiving threats of violence

Link Here29th December 2012

Pakistan's leading arts college has sparked an uproar in Pakistan. A series of paintings depicting Muslim clerics in scenes with strong homosexual overtones has led to the inevitable threats of violence by muslim extremists..

The National College of Arts in Lahore shut down its Journal of Contemporary Art and Culture, which published the paintings, pulled all its issues out of bookstores and dissolved its editorial board. The controversial pictures were a series of paintings by artist Muhammad Ali.

A court is now considering whether the paintings' artist, the journal's board and the school's head can be charged with blasphemy.

Two works were claimed to have insulted Islam by mixing images of Muslim clerics with suggestions of homosexuality. One titled Call for Prayer shows a cleric and a shirtless young boy sitting beside each other on a cot. The cleric fingers rosary beads as he gazes at the boy, who stretches backward with his hands clasped behind his head.

A second painting shows the same cleric reclining in front of a Muslim shrine, holding a book by Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho in one hand as he lights a cigarette for a young boy with the other. A second young boy, who is naked with his legs strategically crossed to cover his genitals, sits at the cleric's feet. The painting has caused particular uproar because verses from the Quran, appear on the shrine.

Mumtaz Mangat, a lawyer who petitioned the courts to impose blasphemy charges, argued the first image implied the cleric had fun with the boy before conducting the traditional Muslim call for prayer.

Jamaat-ud-Dawa, widely believed to be a front for the Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group, issued a statement after the paintings were published demanding the college issue a public apology and withdraw all issues of the journal.

College staff members also began receiving anonymous text messages threatening violence, said a member of the journal's editorial board.



Update: Culturally Degrading Blasphemy Investigation...

Russians get wound up by art featuring a crucified Ronald McDonald

Link Here8th December 2012

St. Petersburg's State Hermitage Museum is reportedly under investigation over complaints of supposed blasphemy.

Hermitage Director Mikhail Piotrovsky told journalists on December 7 that investigators were examining artwork in the exhibition End of Fun by the British brothers Jake and Dinos Chapman.

According to Piotrovsky, the investigators told him that some visitors called the Chapmans' work extremist and complained that it hurt their religious feelings. It includes a Christian cross with the figure of Ronald McDonald nailed to it. Another features a crucified teddy bear.

Piotrovsky said that he was outraged by the prosecutor's investigation and called the complaints culturally degrading to our society.

The exhibition is scheduled to run at the Hermitage until January 13.



Casting Aspersions...

Tokyo police accuse magazines of obscenity over art by Jamie McCartney

Link Here23rd November 2012

Two weekly Japanese tabloids received warnings this week from the Tokyo Metropolitan Police over the publication of supposedly obscene images of works by British artist Jamie McCartney.

Shukan Post and Shukan Gendai published color and black-and-white pictures of McCartney's Great Wall of Vagina , which comprises a series of rows of white plaster casts of the genitals of 400 women.

The 'peace preservation' division of the metropolitan police warned both magazines, deeming the publication of the display a crime of obscene public exhibition. The images are exactly that of female genitalia. The degree of obscenity is high.

Artist Jamie McCartney emailed The Tokyo Reporter:

Japan is a sophisticated and forward-looking culture that should be able to accept all forms of creative expression.  The purpose of the artwork is not to be sexually arousing but instead to be educational and alleviate the unnecessary anxiety many women feel about their genitals.



The Holy Truth...

MSP takes offence at artwork referencing catholic problems with paedophile priests

Link Here6th November 2012

A controversial art exhibit depicting the Pope as a Nazi paedophile has been branded offensive and distressing .

The Holy Truth is the title of the abstract work by Dutch artist Jeff van Weereld which has been unveiled at the Eden Court Theatre in Inverness.

The sculpture, which lends the exhibition its name, is a three-and-a-half metre tall stylised image of the Pope in a state of sexual arousal with his hand firmly on the shoulder of two little boys. The statue has also been decorated with a Swastika-style crucifix.

Van Weereld said he wanted to call attention to the relatively high incidence of paedophilia in single sex institutions of such as the Catholic church.

MSP Dave Thompson said freedom of artistic expression and the right of people to have views was something to be valued:

...[ BUT]... I think we have to be very careful we don't use that to cross certain lines which could deliberately provoke people and insult them. And this sculpture appears to be particularly provocative and distressing.



Viennese Balls...

Austrian museum withdraw adverts for exhibition of male nudes

Link Here16th October 2012

A museum in Austria has covered up hundreds of male genitalia on posters advertising an exhibition after complaints from 'outraged' Viennese.

Nutters took exception to the large full-frontal photograph of three French football players used to advertise an exhibition on the naked male form at the city's Wiener Leopold Museum.

The image is Vive La France by artists Pierre & Gilles. The three players, wearing nothing but socks and boots, and with a football between their feet, had appeared on 250 billboards across the city.

One complainant described the posters as pathetic and pornographic , and one angry local lady threatened to paint over the offending parts unless action was taken.

A museum spokesman told the newspaper Wiener Zeitung:

We don't want to disturb either children or adults, and if it's clearly something people don't want to see then we have to respect that. But the men are clearly not sexually aroused so we thought it would not cause offence.

Despite the nutter furore, the museum said it would retain a massive sculpture of a reclining male nude entitled Mr Big , which lies outside the museum.



No Pride in Serbia...

Serbia prime minister whinges at Gay Pride and Ecce Homo art exhibition

Link Here15th October 2012

A top official at Europe's main human rights watchdog has voiced concern after Belgrade banned a gay pride event for the second year running.

Keith Whitmore, of the Council of Europe, called on the authorities in Belgrade to reconsider their decision. The city should respect the right of gay people to free assembly, he said.

The European Commission warned that the decision went against fundamental human rights upheld by the EU. Serbia won EU candidate status earlier this year.

But Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic described the ban on Saturday's event as a victory for Serbia . He added: Nobody will be telling anyone what should happen in Belgrade, be it the EU or any of the countries of the world, or any extremist or radical organisation.

He also condemned a Swedish art exhibition being held in Belgrade to coincide with Pride Week. Ecce Homo features photographs which appear to depict Jesus Christ, naked or wearing high heels, among gay people.

The 2011 Belgrade Pride parade was banned at the last moment supposedly out of fear of a repetition of violence in 2010, when dozens were injured and arrested as protesters opposed to the parade clashed with police.



Light Censorship...

Art banned in Toulouse in outrage at people walking across an outdoor projection of Koranic text

Link Here11th October 2012

Last week, Technologia , a outdoor light projection by Moroccan artist Mounir Fatmi shown at a contemporary art festival in Toulouse, was the victim, first, of a near-riot, as Muslim youth took to the streets to in 'outrage' against the work, and then, of censorship, when the city decided to remove it from the festival.

Now, in a preemptive move, Paris's Arab World Institute has decided to ban a different work by the artist.

Technologia projects images of Koran verses inside spoked circles. It was projected onto Toulouse's city hall and the surface of the Pont-Neuf bridge. Stewards were present to explain the work to the public and prevent pedestrians from walking on it. However it was later shown without stewards present, and people were able to walk across the images. A group of young Muslims became irate, and a young woman was slapped in the face when she walked over the Arabic letters. Police appeared and an imam quietened the aggressive crowd.

The next day, representatives of the Muslim community met with local authorities. The outcome was that the piece will be banned for the remainder of the festival.

In an odd twist, Paris's Arab World Institute, which had already planned on showing Technologia as part of the show Twenty-five Years of Arab Creativity opening next week, will still present the work as scheduled, but has decided to censor a different work by Fatmi. This is a six-hour video installation Sleep , which simply depicts Salman Rushdie sleeping.

According to Le Figaro, Fatmi feels that the fearful mood at the Arab World Institute is due to ongoing fallout from the film The Innocence of Muslims. What really bothers me, the artist told the newspaper: is that this is happening in France, not in the Maghreb or Saudi Arabia.




Kathmandu Police close art exhibition after blasphemy complaint

Link Here13th September 2012

Kathmandu Police have said that a painting exhibition by artist Manish Harijan in Babar Mahal-based Siddhartha Art Gallery has been closed.

The policeman in charge explained that the closure decision was taken to investigate the complaint of blasphemy resulting from the paintings of Hindu deities put on display.

Tension arose in the gallery after World Hindu Federation activists allegedly warned the artist against displaying images of Hindu deities combined with Western superheroes.

Meanwhile, UNESCO has expressed serious concern about a death threat against the artist. Axel Plathe, Head of the UNESCO Office in Kathmandu said:

The right to freedom of expression must also apply to artistic expression. Tension that may arise between artistic creation and religious and ethical values should be openly discussed instead of becoming a subject of intimidation or even death threat to the artist.



A Slice of Nutter Life...

American Family Association nutters whinge at park statue

Link Here11th September 2012

In Kansas, another legal battle is being waged over art. The nutter community is in 'uproar' over a bare-breasted sculpture in an Overland Park arboretum. It has triggered a grand jury investigation into whether the city is somehow promoting obscenity to minors.

The artwork, titled Accept or Reject was donated by Chinese artist Yu Chang. It depicts a headless woman with exposed pert breasts, snapping a self-portrait.

Nutters ludicrously contend that it promotes sexting to children. A petition begun by local mother Joanne Hughes to remove the statue picked up steam when she teamed up with Phillip Cosby, the state director of the nutter organisation, the American Family Association. It is a religious-based group focused on strengthening the moral foundations of American culture.

Hughes and Cosby delivered 4,700 signatures to the county clerk, enough names to summon a grand jury investigation.

Cosby spouted to The Huffington Post:

The arboretum is a place for school trips and minors, and it's advertised that way. Then boom, here's this sexting statue. Is sexting something you want to put in front of children and say this is okay? It's illegal.

But so far, the city has no plans to remove the offending sculpture. The statue does exactly what art is supposed to do, said Overland Park spokesman Sean Reilly: It's evoked a lot of emotion.

Update: Not Obscene

28th October 2012. See  article from

The bare-breasted sculpture at a northeast Kansas arboretum has been judged as not obscene.

The Kansas City Star reports a Johnson County grand jury chose not to issue on indictment over the life-size bronze sculpture.

Nutters had collected enough signatures through a petition drive to summon the 15-member jury. Johnson County District Judge Gerald Elliott told the jurors their job was to determine if the sculpture violated the Kansas obscenity law.

If they found probable cause of a crime, they were to issue an indictment known as a true bill. But instead they issued a no true bill ruling.



A Stones Throw from Repression...

Tunisian sculptors charged over challenging exhibits

Link Here5th September 2012

Tunisia's authorities have arrested and charged two sculptors for creating works of art that are supposedly harmful to the public.

The two sculptors, Nadia Jelassi and Mohamed Ben Slama, could be imprisoned for up to five years for their works that were publicly displayed in the coastal town of La Marsa in June, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said.

Jelassi's work is of a veiled woman surrounded by stones evoking the scene of a stoning.

Ben Slama's work is of a child with ants streaming from its schoolbag that spells out the word Allah.

Their works drew public 'outcry'. Toward the end of the exhibition, two people and a court official told the owner of the hall where the exhibition was held to remove two pieces of art. There was also a campaign started on Facebook to remove the pieces, the organization said.

The night the exhibition ended, several works of art that had been exhibited in La Marsa were damaged by protesters before police sent them away. What followed were riots across the country over the art show, with protesters setting police stations, courts, and other buildings on fire, leaving one person dead.



Touching a Sensitive Spot...

Christian extremists menace Moscow's Museum of Erotic Art

Link Here30th August 2012

A group of Christian activists have continued their spell of attacks on the Museum of Erotic Art in Moscow, the museum administration said.

The extremists, who appeared shortly after midnight, wielded a brick and threatened the manager, who fled fearing for her life, said Alexander Donskoi, a curator of the museum also known as Tochka-G or G-Spot .

He said the group criticised the museum for advertising in the streets, allowing gays to attend and supporting punk band Pussy Riot.

The nutter group's organiser, Dmitry Enteo, told RIA Novosti that the activists just came to preach at the disgraceful place . Little ones see their leaflets and ask their parents what a G-spot is. We couldn't tolerate it.

He claimed no threats were involved and the brick was a reference to the capstone for a better life mentioned in the Bible.

A short silent video from a surveillance camera showed the activists walking into the museum and studying the items on display. They have a brick with them and are accompanied by a man with a professional camera, but make no menacing gestures.



Armchair Critics...

Edinburgh Airports bans Picasso nude but later restores it

Link Here9th August 2012

Edinburgh airport decided to censor a nude Picasso painting after several people whinged about supposedly offensive material. But after a little further consideration, Nude Woman in a Red Armchair was uncovered.

The BBC reports that the nude Picasso painting greeted passengers in international departures as part of an advertisement for the Modern British Art exhibition at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.

John Leighton, director-general of the National Galleries of Scotland, called the censorship bizarre:

It is obviously bizarre that all kinds of images of women in various states of dress and undress can be used in contemporary advertising without comment, but somehow a painted nude by one of the world's most famous artists is found to be disturbing and has to be removed. I hope that the public will come and see the real thing, which is a joyous and affectionate portrait of one of Picasso's favorite models, an image that has been shown around the world.

A spokesman for the airport said that the decision to censor the painting came after several passengers complained about the artwork. The spokesperson said that the airport always takes customer complaints seriously but may have over-reacted about the nudity in the Picasso painting:

We have now reviewed our original decision and reinstated the image. The initial decision was a reaction to passenger feedback, which we do always take seriously. However on reflection we are more than happy to display the image in the terminal and we'd like to apologize, particularly to the exhibition organisers, for the confusion.

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