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Posts Tagged ‘Christian’

Russian curators prosecuted for showcasing banned art: media round-up

Posted by artradar on August 2, 2010


RUSSIAN ART CURATORS BANNED ART LAW

After a two-year trial, two Russian curators, Yury Samodurov and Andrei Yerofeyev, were declared guilty of “inciting religious hatred,” despite massive protest. Although they escaped the three-year prison sentence demanded by the prosecution, the judge declared them guilty and each had to pay a hefty fine. Critics fear the results of this trial are proof of cultural oppression in Russia.

They had showcased art banned from other Russian museums in an exhibition entitled “Forbidden Art” at the Sakharov Museum.

Alexander Kosolapov's 'This Is My Body', from "My Blood My Body" series, one of the works from the controversial exhibition "Forbidden Art 2006" at the Sakharov Museum.

Alexander Kosolapov's 'This Is My Body', from "My Blood My Body" series, one of the works from the controversial exhibition "Forbidden Art" at the Sakharov Museum.

Strong public interest in the case

Most media leans in favor of the Russian curators and sees the verdict as a sign of cultural oppression and censorship in Russia. However protesters from both sides were present outside the courthouse on the day of the ruling. Those offended by the paintings and who initiated the prosecution were mostly fundamentalist Russian Orthodox Christians while those against the prosecution consisted generally of artists and human rights activists. Multiple blogs and news agencies have covered the trial, ranging from arts websites to Russian interest magazines and blogs about human rights.

Extreme factions from both sides have voiced their protests. The New York Times reports that radical art performance group, Voina, released cockroaches into the courtroom, an act criticized by Samodurov. According to the Associated Press, extremist members of the prosecution threatened the curators in court, reminding them of the fate of Anna Alchuk, curator of “Caution: Religion!” who was found dead in Berlin in 2008.

Artists “incited religious hatred”

'Chechen Marilyn' by Blue Noses Group (2005, colour print, 100 x 75 cm), one of the works from the controversial exhibition "Forbidden Art 2006" at the Sakharov Museum.

'Chechen Marilyn' by Blue Noses Group (2005, colour print, 100 x 75 cm), one of the works from the controversial exhibition "Forbidden Art" at the Sakharov Museum.

The works in question include an icon made of caviar, a depiction of Christ with a Mickey Mouse head, and an image of Christ with the McDonald’s sign and the words “This is my body”. There were also some non-Christian symbols included in the list of offensive images such as Chechen Marilyn and the Chinese invading the Kremlin. The exhibition spurred a lot of anger amongst religious groups.

In a video interview with Russia Today, a member of the Russian Orthodox Church explains that,

Orthodox believers, as citizens of their country…have the right to protect their sacred symbols. It was not the church that initiated this prosecution, but the people who were offended. The investigation proved that the art at the exhibit was offensive towards believers, and incited religious hatred.

The New York Times also mentioned, however, that Russian Orthodox Church officials believed that while displaying the paintings was criminal and the curators should be punished, they shouldn’t be imprisoned. Furthermore, the Russian Minister of Culture was critical of the prosecution.

A fight against censorship

The defendants’ view is that this exhibition was a critique of the materialism of Russian society and a fight against censorship of the arts, and had nothing to do with religion. Ironically, critics fear that results of the trial have shown that censorship is quite powerful in Russia.

Samodurov faced similar charges for a 2003 exhibition called “Caution: Religion!” He says the Church has reacted more strongly in the “Forbidden Art” trial.

Human rights and arts activists fully disapprove of the judge’s ruling, and are alarmed not only at the guilty verdict but at the fact that this trial even took place. The BBC News reported that thirteen renowned Russian artists signed an open letter to President Dmitry Medvedev protesting the trial. Russia Today reports that,

…much more concerning [than escaping the jail sentence] for people in their circumstances is what they’ve seen as a curb from their freedom of expression.

In addition support from other artists and curators has been prevalent. The Associated Press reports that Marat Gelman, a Moscow gallery owner, declared his support for the pair by saying he would launch his own “Forbidden Art” exhibition should the ruling be in favor of the church. One sympathizer stated for the Associated Press before the verdict was declared,

‘I am very afraid for them,’ she said. ‘The church is now younger, more energetic.’

Some fear a return to a cultural oppression similar to that of Czarist Russia. Some suspect the Kremlin may have had a role in lightening the punishment of the curators to prevent tarnishing their international image. Critics have predicted that people will be wary of displaying and producing potentially offensive art in Russia, and this will make Russian art less competitive globally.

MM/KN

Related Topics: Russian artists, curators, venues – Moscow

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Controversial “Kamoan” artist Andy Leleisi’uao to complete inaugural Taiwanese arts residency – profile

Posted by artradar on April 12, 2010


NEW ZEALAND-SAMOAN ARTIST PAINTING ARTS RESIDENCY TAIWAN

Socially motivated New Zealand-Samoan wraps up Taiwanese arts residency

Andy Leleisi’uao is a “Kamoan” (meaning Kiwi + Samoan, a term coined by the artist himself) artist who is the first New Zealander to be accepted for an inaugural three-month Taiwanese arts residency offered by the Asia New Zealand Foundation in partnership with the Taipei Artist Village. He completed the residency at the end of March this year, wrapping it up with a group exhibition and open studio event at the Taipei Artist Village.

Leleisi’uao began his artistic career as a widely celebrated social commentator on Samoans living in New Zealand; his paintings controversially exploring issues associated the Samoan diaspora. As he has developed his style, he has begun to both internalize and universalize these themes, exploring fantastical worlds and opening his art to a global audience.

Areatures of the Arctaur People I, 2009

His early art can be uncomfortable to view, often described by critics as confronting and controversial. In these works, his themes and intentions are obvious to the viewer; he shouts them from the canvas. During the late 1990s, Leleisi’uao’s paintings were highly politicized, socially motivated and somewhat autobiographical. He dealt obviously with the societal problems – domestic violence, poverty, unemployment and youth suicide – faced by blue-collar Pacific Island, particularly Samoan, immigrants to New Zealand.

“Leleisi’uao’s work emerges as a telling and insightful contrast to the colour, festivities and general brightness that characterizes popular media representations of Pacific Islands cultures.” Caroline Vercoe MA, Senior Lecturer, University of Auckland

The Immigrant, 1997

Pacific Island communities are generally strongly Christian and Leleisi’uao often highlighted the negative impact of the church on Samoan families, painting expressionistic pastors getting richer as communities get poorer. This focus on the negative albeit real issues faced by Pacific Islanders living in New Zealand is something that at times put him at odds with local communities.

“My early work in Samoan diaspora was necessary for self-development. It is a universal theme amongst concerns such as racism, domestic violence [and] suicide. I was in an environment and position in which these issues needed to be addressed and I used my vocation to create such works.” Andy Leleisi’uao, 2010

Angel of Falo, 2000

Since the early 2000s, however, Leleisi’uao has moderated and universalized his voice, shifting his painting focus and style. His most recent paintings are far less direct in their presentation of the painter’s ambitions and motivations. While still dealing with issues of social dislocation, he utilizes mythology and spiritualism to conjure up alternate universes populated with fantastical creatures.

“In these more recent works though the voice is more moderated and rather than a Pacific voice the works have a more universal theme of social and moral dysfunction and alienation.” John Daly, National Business Review, 2009

A critic described paintings in 2009 exhibition Le Onoeva – Misunderstood Aitu as “Armageddon-like, with gods and demons bringing saviour and damnation to a waiting populace,” while many others noted the recent moderation of his style.

“My role has changed over the years. My obligations towards social and political issues remain but at the moment I am on a cryptid journey I am really enjoying.” Andy Leleisi’uao, 2010

Though reportedly toned-down, Leleisi’uao’s newer representations still manage to stir public opinion; as reported in 2009 in the National Business Review, a commissioned public mural project planned for a community centre in South Auckland, New Zealand, came to a halt due to local community backlash.

Andy Leleisi’uao is represented by Whitespace (Auckland, New Zealand) and BCA (Raratongo, Cook Islands). This year, he has solo exhibitions in various major cities in Auckland and group exhibitions in Taiwan and New York. He recently won the coveted 2010 McCahon Arts Residency. His works are collected by major art museums and institutions worldwide including Auckland Art Gallery, Auckland University Collection, BCA Collection, Casula Powerhouse, Chartwell Trust Collection, Frankfurt Museum, Ilam University Collection, James Wallace Trust Collection, Manukau City Collection, Pataka Museum of Arts and Cultures and Te Papa, Museum of New Zealand.

KN/KCE

Related Topics: spirituality in art, myth figures in art, New Zealand artists

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Posted in Migration, Mythical figures, New Zealander, Painting, Profiles, Residencies, Samoan, Social, Spiritual, Taiwan | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »