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2015: Jan-March

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Art Trumped by Russian Censorship...

Lithuanian mural of Putin snogging trump has been censored with white paint

Link Here12th August 2016
Amural of Vladimir Putin snogging Donald Trump engaged in a passionate embrace was apparently too much for some in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius.

The internationally famous mural was covered over with white paint. The work of local artist Mindaugas Bonanu went viral on social media after it was unveiled in May, and has since become a popular backdrop for selfies.

The miural covers a wall of the Keulė Rūkė restaurant whose owner Dominykas Ceckauskas said that the censorship was more than simple vandalism but a terrorising attack on freedom of speech in Lithuania . He said on facebook:

The purpose of the attack was to remind us, the people of the free world, that there are still active advocates of authoritarianism in our society.

Ceckauskas has promised to reinstall the artwork which he describes as a world famous symbol of liberty and defiance .

It's not yet clear who was responsible for the attack but it seems unlikely that it is the work of Trump supporters.



From the Censorship Vault...

Australian prudes prevail over modern day nude art

Link Here10th August 2016
The latest issue of art periodical Vault Magazine has been censored for Australia because it features a Lisa Yuskavage painting of a nude pregnant woman on the front cover. comments:

You wouldn't bat an eyelid if the front cover of an art magazine featured Manet's famous Olympia , a naked woman reclining on a bed.

But Vault Magazine , a contemporary art magazine published in Melbourne, say they've had to censor a painting of a nude woman on the cover of their latest issue.

Brood (2005-2006), a blonde, bare-breasted pregnant woman in pastel tones, was painted by renowned New York painter Lisa Yuskavage--one of the few female artists whose paintings can fetch over a million dollars on the market.

In newsagents around Australia, however, the work is obscured by two yellow circles stuck to the cover of the magazine, which hide the woman's nipples from public view.

Vault's editor, Neha Kale, says the magazine was told by their distributor, Gordon & Gotch, that the stickers--or an opaque sleeve--were required for the issue to be distributed. Kale says she accepts that the distributor may have faced a backlash from newsagents, but believes the decision is symptomatic of broader problems in Australian culture.



Mirror Box...

Police arrest and detain artist for allowing strangers to fondle her breasts in Trafalgar Square

Link Here27th June 2016
Swiss artist Milo Moiré has been arrested in London after allowing strangers to stroke her breasts and genitals for her latest performance piece.

The project, titled Mirror Box , saw the artist walk around various European cities with a large mirrored structure covering her body. Using a megaphone to attract attention, she would then invite strangers to stick their hands in the box, and fondle either her breasts or vagina for a 30-second period.

The performance is a follow-up to her naked protest against Cologne's New Year's Eve sex attacks. She explained that she wanted to give a symbol for the consensual nature of sexual acts. She said:

I am standing here today for women's rights and sexual self-determination. Women have a sexuality, just like men have one. However, women decide for themselves when and how they want to be touched, and when they don't.

However, when she arrived in London's Trafalgar Square she was arrested shortly after the performance began -- with police eventually forcing her to spend 24 hours in a prison cell, and fining her for a "4-digit fine".



Update: Mad Hatter...

Bill Donahue of the Catholic League whinges about artwork at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art

Link Here20th May 2016
A painting set to be unveiled at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art in Virginia Beach is upsetting the Catholic church. Bill Donohue from the Catholic League sent the following letter to the museum's executive director:

Opening next week at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art is an exhibition that features a painting by Mark Ryden, Rosie's Tea Party . It depicts a young girl in her First Communion dress, wearing a crucifix around her neck, cutting a piece of ham with the words Corpus Christi (Body of Christ) inscribed on it. There is a bottle of wine on the table with a picture of Jesus in it; nearby, there is a rabbit pouring a teapot with blood coming out of it. When one of the commissioners on the Virginia Beach Arts and Humanities Commission objected to this work, you defended it, saying, Art is intended to be controversial. Ryden defended his painting by saying, I am really not poking fun at religion, adding that Someone ought to poke fun at those Christians, though.

I have a suggestion. Why not substitute a young Muslim girl in a hijab, wearing a machete around her neck, cutting a piece of ham with the words, Allahu Akbar inscribed on it. In place of Jesus in the wine bottle, display a picture of Muhammad. And yes, please keep the blood. When Muslims complain, tell them that Art is intended to be controversial, and Someone ought to poke fun at those Muslims anyway. Please be sure to let me know the outcome.

The artworks were embroiled in a censorship attempt on another front. in response to teh catholic 'outrage', Brian Kirwin, a member of the Virginia Beach Arts and Humanities Commission said to a local journalist that  he would consider cutting the funding for the museum.

Svetlana Mintcheva, director of programs with National Coalition Against Censorship in New York, responded to the censorship attempt in a letter:

The government cannot suppress real or imagined attacks upon a particular religious doctrine, nor can it suppress works of art said to be offensive, sacrilegious, morally improper or dangerous. Contrary to what you appear to believe, government officials are also barred from using the power of the purse to discriminate against art based on the viewpoint expressed in it.

?Anybody is entitled to criticize art in an exhibition, but First Amendment principles bar government officials from discriminating against controversial viewpoints. MOCA cannot and should not tailor its programming to promote the views of certain interest groups while suppressing those of others. Taxpayer funds go to maintain a vibrant and diverse cultural sphere that serves all Americans not just Republicans or Democrats, conservatives or liberals. We may differ on cultural or social issues and argue about these issues in the press, in public spaces, in galleries and performance spaces, but government officials cannot use financial leverage as a threat to silence those with whom they disagree,



Update: Up shit creek without a 3D printed paddle...

Megumi Igarashi falls victim to Japanese censorship law and is fined for posting 3D printing data of her vagina

Link Here9th May 2016
A Japanese artist who made a kayak modelled on her vagina has been found guilty of breaking repressive obscenity laws.

Megumi Igarashi was arrested in July 2014 after she distributed data that enabled recipients to make 3D prints of her vagina. She was fined 400,000 yen (£2,575) for distributing supposedly obscene images.

Igarashi distributed the data to help raise funds to create a kayak inspired by her genitalia she called pussy boat .

The judge claimed that the data, though flat and inorganic , realistically portrayed the shape of a vagina and could sexually arouse viewers .

Igarashi was cleared of a second charge relating to the display of plaster versions of the kayak at a shop selling adult goods in Tokyo. Tanabe said the kayak did not obviously resemble female genitalia and could not be considered obscene.



Not yet time to sing a new song...

Turkish art about women's voices in the public space censored by police for insulting religious views

Link Here5th May 2016
The artist Isil Egrikavuk, who was commissioned to create a new work for YAMA, a public art installation series screened on top of the Marmara Pera hotel in Istanbul, says in a statement on Facebook that her animation about women's voices in public spaces was first removed for "insulting religious views," and later that the work was a source of "visual pollution".

Egrikavuk's work is titled Time to Sing a New Song and consists of a short animation of a woman's emoji face slowly turning into an apple.

It was supposed to be on display from sunset to sunrise everyday between April 23 to June 30 of this year, however three days after the opening on April 26 officers from Beyoglu Municipality apparently came to the hotel and put a stop to the exhibition.

The artist learned that there had been a complaint about the video, for insulting religious views, and subsequently also was told that the video was causing visual pollution and had to be shut off.



Celebrity nudes...

Vietnam decrees new law banning artistes and models from appearing in nude photos

Link Here1st May 2016
Several photographers have voiced their opposition to a new Ministry of Censorship Culture, Sports and Tourism circular that bans artists and well known models from nude photography.

The circular was supposed to deal with issues in the entertainment business, but it has raised much debate. It stated that artists, models and beauty pageant entrants were banned from being photographed or recorded nude or in inappropriate clothes or even makeup. The decrees also bans deliberate or accidental distribution of such images.

Photographer Dung Art said:

I think this circular violates personal rights of the models and the photographers and even viewers.

When being asked what would happen when the circular took effect on May 15, Dung said the photographers probably would have to check whether the models were popular or not. He added:

Artwork is kept locked up. The space for artistic expression through nude photographer is already very limited so what's this circular aimed at? They previously said artistic nude photos could be given permits for exhibition but I know the reality is different, so this circular is meaningless.

Photographer Thai Phien said:

The authorities are still unable to distinguish artistic nude photos and pornography. Will it be okay if a photographer only takes a picture of a beauty queen's back and not her face? The rules must be clearer than this.

Until the authorities are able to differentiate pornographic and artistic photos, people will just continue with their nude photography albeit silently and hidden away, like it always has done. Nude photos have existed since cameras first appeared.



Drawing a little prick...

Donald Trump's team bullies artist who imagined him nude with a tiny penis

Link Here18th April 2016
The artist who painted an unflattering nude of Donald Trump with tiny penis said she has been threatened with legal action if she sells the notable piece.

Illma Gore's Make America Great Again , named after the Republican candidate's campaign slogan is valued at £1 million.

Now the artist says she has received a phone call from an anonymous number threatening legal action if the painting was sold. She told the Independent: They claimed to be from Trump's team.

The painting has now been banned from public display in the US and was pulled from social media following the filing of a Digital Millennium Copyright Act notice, claiming that the content infringed copyright.



Update: Swedish Courts vs The People...

Swedish court claims Wikimedia cannot make a database of photos of public art in Sweden

Link Here9th April 2016
Full story: Copyright in the EU...Copyright law for Europe
Sweden's supreme court has sided with commercial copyright concerns and ruled that the non-profit internet giant Wikimedia breaches Sweden's copyright laws by publishing photos of public artworks.

Wikimedia is the group behind the free online encyclopaedia Wikipedia. It has created a vast online knowledge repository by allowing members of the public to group-edit entries and upload pictures to its pages for educational purposes.

The disgraceful judgement is a victory for the Visual Copyright Society in Sweden (Bildupphovsrätt  i Sverige - BUS), which sued Wikimedia at Stockholm District Court for publishing photos of Swedish public sculptures and other public artworks without first getting permission from the artists.

In its judgement the supreme court affirmed that Swedish copyright law does permit members of the public to take pictures of public artworks. But, the court said:

It is different when it's a database where artworks are made available to the public to an unlimited extent without copyright-holders receiving any remuneration. A database of this kind can be deemed to have a commercial value that is not inconsiderable.

Wikimedia's Swedish operations manager Anna Troberg told The Local:

We are naturally very disappointed. We view this as an anachronistic and restrictive interpretation of copyright laws. It also runs counter to recommendations from the European Court of Human Rights.

Troberg said the group would now consult its lawyer and its parent foundation in the United States before deciding what action to take.



Update: Iconic censorship...

Rajan Zed calls on European art galleries to censor the artwork, Barbie Kali

Link Here20th March 2016
Full story: Rajan Zed...Taking easy offence at hindu imagery
Perennial hindu whinger Rajan Zed is calling on Rome and Paris museums to censor an iconic Barbie doll as goddess Kali in their Barbie exhibitions, claiming it to be highly inappropriate. Zed said it trivialized the highly revered deity of Hinduism.

Barbie The Icon exhibition at Museo delle Culture in Milan, which reportedly carried an Argentinean artists' created Barbie portrayed as goddess Kali with a dagger and plate carrying a severed head, is ending on March 13. It was said to be moving to Complesso del Vittoriano gallery in Il Vittoriano monument in Rome (April 15 to October 30) and Musee des Arts decoratifs in Paris (till September 18).

Zed claimed that reimagining Hindu scriptures and deities for commercial or other agenda was not okay as it hurt the feelings of devotees. Goddess Kali and other Hindu deities were meant to be worshipped in temples and home shrines and not meant to be reduced to a Barbie character.

Rajan Zed repeated his ludicrous claim that Hindus were for free speech as much as anybody else if not more ...BUT... faith was something sacred and attempts at belittling it hurt the devotees. Artists should be more sensitive while handling faith related subjects, Zed added.



Update: California is not the Origin of the World...

French court rules that Facebook is accountable to French law and a case protesting Facebook censorship will now be heard in France

Link Here12th February 2016
Full story: Facebook Censorship...Facebook quick to censor
A judge at the French Supreme Court has ruled that Facebook is accountable to French law.

The ruling was made after a teacher sued the website for banning an image that he had posted of Courbet's The Origin of the World which contravened Facebook's censorship rules on nudity. The court ruled that the case comes under its jurisdiction and it is now due to be heard by a civil court in France on 21 May.

Facebook's lawyers had argued that all users agreed to use the courts in California for litigation when they joined the site. Le Journal des Arts said that the judge called this clause abusive , while the teacher's lawyer noted that if it were enforced, none of France's 22 million Facebook users would have recourse to French legal jurisdiction in the event of a dispute .

Facebook has also announced a change to its censorship rules to permit Photographs of paintings, sculptures and other art that depicts nude figures .



Lego's Creativity Block...

Lego ends its censorship of Lego constructions after being shamed by Ai Weiwei

Link Here13th January 2016
Lego will no longer ask for thematic purpose of bricks it sells after it was international shamed for censoring Chinese artist Ai WeiWei.

Lego has performed a U-turn on its bulk orders policy after it was engulfed in controversy when it refused an order from the artist. Ai accused the company of an act of censorship and discrimination when it refused to sell him a bulk order last October.

Lego said at the time that its censorship policy was to block requests that it believed would be used for political purposes.

The decision sparked a wave of online criticism and led to WeiWei setting up Lego collection points across the world. The results of the project are now on show in the Letgo Room (2015) at the National Gallery of Victoria in Australia.

Lego said in a statement on its website that the censorship policy has been dropped but exhibitors of works featuring lego will now be now be asked to make it clear - if they intend to display their Lego creations in public - that the Lego Group does not support or endorse the specific projects,

Mr Ai welcomed the decision, tweeting nice move on his official account with the hashtag freedomofexpression .



Cultural Codes...

Beijing censors art exhibition featuring gender inequality

Link Here8th January 2016
An exhibition about gender inequality in China has been shut down by the authorities. The show, entitled Jian, Rape: Gender Violence Cultural Codes , was booked to open at Ginkgo Space, a commercial gallery in Beijing. Artist Cui Guangxia had organised the exhibition as a response to the United Nations call for men to engage with the issue of women's rights.

The closure by local officials could be a result of sensitivity to any open discussion of human rights in China, says Cui, or to the directness of the show's title, and the explicit nature of many of the works it contained. Or it could be because Cui is one of more than a dozen Chinese artists arrested last year for voicing support for the democracy protests in Hong Kong. Or it could be a combination of all these factors.

The leading Chinese feminist artist Xiao Lu says the censored exhibition, which was to include the work of 32 female and 32 male artists, would have been the first show in China to address the issue of gender equality.

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