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Is there a valid case for the censorship of art?

This topic was suggested by a group member:

We all indulge in censorship of one sort of another in our personal lives but most of us resent the idea that governments or institutions should impose censorship on us. No doubt there is such a thing as public standards of decency and a public morality but many in the art world believe that art should not be harnessed to the standards or morals of the majority.

But sometimes censorship is simply a matter of propriety. For example a seemingly harmless bronze sculpture of a naked woman caused considerable concern when first exhibited. The piece is titled Tumbling Woman by Eric Fischl. On the week of September 9th 2002 Tumbling Woman, which was commissioned as a memorial to those who jumped or fell from the World Trade Centre on September 11th 2001, was placed in the lower concourse at Rockefeller Center. Many who saw it and recognised the allusion to that tragedy were deeply disturbed. Consequently, the work was removed; a blatant act of censorship. How valid is this act of censorship? In England some art patrons threw eggs at a 11 foot high photograph titled Myra made using children’s hand prints and then turned into a monochromatic photograph. Myra is a portrait of Myra Hindley imprisoned for life for her part in the murder and torture of five children (the infamous Moors murders). Several exhibitions of the work were closed as a result of the outrage of some members of the public. How valid is it to censor a work because some dislike its subject matter? Are works of art ‘speech acts’?

Before this Meet Up you may like to Google "censorship of art" and see what pops up.

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  • Gordon

    A most interesting and stimulating meeting. Thanks Launt. Great management of the meeting.

    1 · February 22, 2013

  • Tony S.

    My first meet-up with this group and really enjoyed it. Well presented by Launt, with thought provoking images and topics to discuss. Interesting to hear group members ideas and thoughts on the topic. Thanks. A really good evening. I learnt a lot.

    1 · February 22, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Great topic (I'm biased of course) A splendid group of informed and interesting people. This was a small group but I think they were challenged and they responded well to the challenge.

    1 · February 22, 2013

  • Daisy

    For me, this was a very worthwhile topic. I thought this discussion seemed to flow well. It would have been nice if more people had attended, to enhance the discussion of this diverse topic. But, I still found this meetup enriching. A big thanks to Launt for his excellent event hosting and meticulous preparation, and suggesting this topic in the first place!;)

    1 · February 21, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    SO sorry - my babysitter dropped me. I was looking forward to it too.

    February 20, 2013

  • John D.

    sorry can't make it

    February 19, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Need to cancel due to clashing commitments. Enjoy the talk!

    February 18, 2013

  • Tony S.

    I remember a certain statue of the virgin mary causing a stir at Te Papa. It was an exhibit showing the statue covered with a condom. It carried a message, at a certain level, but caused offence to catholics who I believe protested outside Te Papa. These types of exhibits or art works appear to be carrying a message which is often mis-interpreted by some who just see it as art without thought or morals.

    February 15, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    art always causes a stir when something new or unique surfaces.

    1 · January 21, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    This topic was suggested by Launt. Launt will be providing a handout depicting images of art works that have suffered censorship. This will help insure everyone is on the same page (no pun intended) and has information to which we can refer. He will offer a short preamble explaining the distinctions between the different types of censorship. For example some works are censored as a result of the medium that is used (body fluids and faeces). Others are censored as a result of the subject matter depicted and still others are censored because their title is offensive to a particular group and of course there are the Jylands-Postern cartoon publications of Muhammad which are offensive to Muslims. The question that arises is: “Do we have a right to ridicule the beliefs of another society? Ought not we censor ourselves?

    January 17, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    This was an interesting case that got everyone going in SA:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/may/21/jacob-zuma-court-painting-genitals

    the painting was defaced before the court decision.... then another (black) artist did a painting of Zuma in trad dress with exposed genitals .... the drama continues....

    January 10, 2013

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