Censor in art

While I was walking in the corridors of Contemporary Istanbul last week, a guy thrusted a newspaper into my hands. It immediately drew my attention since there was an attractive headline: China steps in to censor works of art. Living in a country where bureaucrats split on to artworks from time to time or prime ministers sue anyone including many artists criticizing the government, I sometimes fear that my country will face the same thing very soon.

China celebrated the 60th anniversary of the foundation of the People’s Republic of China last month by parades and performances, with promises of increasing openness by the leadership. On the other hand the ministry of culture has quitely introduced measures to censor works to be imported or exported across Chinese borders. What a frightening similarity; celebrating the 86th anniversary of the republic with promises to follow the contemporary doctrines of the founder Atatürk while permanently closing the cultural centers named after him with no replacements or logical explanations to public with the hope to make people forget about it in the fast moving agenda of the country. Distressing enough, they somehow succeded in it.

Anyway,  coming back to the main subject of this entry, under the rules introduced in China, works of creative aesthetic significance including paintings, calligraphy, sculpture, photography, installations and other work for export must be accompanied by a description of the content.

 

Works by the Gao Brothers (above Catching the Prostitute,2007) was rejected several times with respect to new rules.

 

If that is not agreeable to the ministry, it can prevent export. In regard to works being imported into China, it states: No unit or individual may sell, display, exhibit or transmit exported artworks without approval.

For foreign art exhibitions in China, an exhaustive list of documentation must be provided 45 days prior to import.

The wording of the declaration in China makes the announcement sound temporary but galleries fear that the measure is a long term ruling that, while affecting art from all periods, will particularly apply to contemporary works. The motivation seems principally political to chinese galleries since the censors are obsessed with Mao and the Cultural Revolution issues; nudity for example do not bother them at all.

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