Youtube was banned from 2007 until 2010 a few weeks ago Vimeo was affected. In the night of 6th of february 2014 Erdogan’s party AKP passed a law that gives the goverment the power to ban websites without judical decision.
This freedom of censorship must be seen as very marginal and dangerous. But what is about art and creativity? Political motivated artists? Aren’t most artist presenting their creativity on private websites, blogs, Facebook, Flickr or just the former banned platform Vimeo? Finally President Gül signed this law on 18th of february and disappointed former voters and a lot of citizens by this act. So how is art effected by such a law? What about digital/new media art, videoart, performance? But anyway, what am I talking about? Really! Did censorship of art ever vanished? After researching the internet I came up to the opinion that even in Germany or the European Union art is still censored. But surely our censorship laws are nothing in comparison to much more stricter regime ruled countries like China or Iran. We remember political motivated artists like Ai Weiwei who was put under arrest for two days by the Chinese government in november 2010. Later his studio in peking was demolished by the authorities and we was put under arrest again in 2011. Two and a half months later he was set free by paying a huge bail. It was not allowed for him to leave China for a whole year. Until now he still didn’t get his passport back so he is still detained in his own country. Also in Iran there is a quite tough censorship on visual art. After the revolution of 1979 it is still not allowed to paint or draw nudity in any form or way, for example. Also the music sets a special interest in iranian censorship. Music instruments where banned and forbidden by law. Even the situation got a little bit more relaxed the last years, instruments are still not shown in television and musicians still have to face physical punishment. Musicans are purposely not supported by government so that they can not live from their earnings. We should also visualize that artists and writers are still put in prison or sentenced to death because of what they do. Fighting for the freedom of speech, information and creativity with weapons which really can kill or harm nobody. Things so normal for most of us, that we often forget about them with ease. Iran raised his censorship even more since beginning of 2014. More then 80 people, mostly journalists where executed already.
Censorship, not only of art, affectes the whole society. It destroys creativity, for sure, anyway it stops cultural exchange and developement. But it also affects the psychology and makes people dull, leads them to a never ending cycle of repetition. We should keep in mind that censorship is happening everyday, everywhere also in the so called high developed and democratic countries. I posted this article deliberatly under “Opinions”. I don’t want to provocate or change, I just want to move this so long lasting topic back in the focus. That we don’t forget.
This article also offers a small link list on articles and things dealing with censorship of the art and in general. Feel free to comment and/or contact to make this list longer:
Dramatisch verschärfte Zensur im Iran, www.svz.at, 24.02.2014
Siyahbant, turkish website about censorship (only on turkish)
Zensur und Musik im Iran, Ahoo Maher, contrapunkt-online.net, 01.09.2012
Censorship and Controversy in Contemporary Art, Sara Harrison, 6.2002
Censorship is stifling Australia’s artistic freedom of expression, Steve Cox, 14.6.2013
In a pluralist society, is censorship of the arts necessary?, a web-poll on debate.org
Nude Artworks Censored In Berlin Due To Religious Sensitivity, huffingtonpost.com, 15.11.2013
Wenn Kunst als sozial schädlich deklariert wird, Roland Seim, Novo-magazine 50/51
Erfahrungen mit der Äusserungsfreihit in Kunst und Kultur, rechtundgerechtigkeit.de
Wie frei ist die Kunst?, Stephan Maus, stern.de, 4.11.2006
Kunst im Klima der Zensur, Volker Hagedorn, 14.03.2011
Berliner Bezirk zensiert Kunstaussstellung, freiewelt.net, 11.11.2013
Die Aktbilder hängen wieder an den Wänden, Andreas Conrad, 11.11.2013
Zensur von Kunst, Interview mit Burkhard C. Kosminski, Der Spiegel, 13.05.2013
written by Christian Raetsch
founder of VASISTAS, administrator, project-coordinator | Diploma in Fine Arts, lives and works in Dresden, Germany