Art Madrid'24 – CENSORSHIP IN THE 21ST CENTURY

Balthus, “Thérèse Dreaming”, 1938. ©Photo by Oliver Berg/dpa picture alliance archive/Alamy.

 

 

 

The Metropolitan Museum of New York has recently faced the harsh decision of whether or not yield to social pressure to dismiss from the exhibition a painting by Balthus considered "sexually suggestive". The work is "Thérèse Dreaming", concluded in 1938, which portrays a young girl at her 12 or 13 years in a position that for the critical eyes of the New Yorker Mia Merrill was totally inappropriate. This led to an online campaign that gathered more than 8,600 signatures requesting its withdrawal when the same work had previously been exposed in Museum Ludwig in Cologne without any setback.

 

 

 

Bia Leita, "Travesti da lambada e deusa das águas", 2013.

 

 

 

Another recent case occurred this summer at the Cultural Center of Santander in Porto Alegre, Brazil. The exhibition entitled "Queermuseu" gathered more than 230 works by 85 Brazilian artists around a project that explored the artistic communication and representation of homosexuality and non-orthodox sexuality. The controversy sprang up a few days after the inauguration, and the social pressure by a group of ultra-right-wing demonstrators and evangelists led the Santander Foundation to close the show. The case was then brought before the authorities who, after carefully examining all the works, came to the unanimous conclusion that none of them had traces of paedophilia.

 

 

 

Detail of “Reclining Nude” by Modigliani in Bloomberg TV and The Financial Times.

 

 

 

In November 2015, the work "Reclining Nude" by Amadeo Modigliani was auctioned at Christie's New York, at that time the second most expensive artwork in the world. Chinese collector Liu Yiqian bought the painting for 170.4 million dollars. The curious thing about this situation is that some media applied to the spread of the news a flagrant censorship that concealed or blurred the most sensual parts of the painting, perhaps to flaunt a decorum and restraint adapted to the general feeling of its subscribers.

 

 

 

Dread Scott Tyler, “What is the Proper Way to Display the US Flag?”, 1989.

 

 

 

Without forgetting the case of the Russian singers Pussy Riot who recorded their hit against Putin in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior of Moscow, and ended up in jail, or the decision of the MACBA to cancel the exhibition "The Beast and the Sovereign" in which one of the central pieces was the proposal of the Austrian artist Ines Doujak, in which a King Juan Carlos was sodomised; the censorship of political overtones underlies some of this cases. Another example is the installation of artist Dread Scott Tyler on what is the proper way to display the American flag. In the work, a US flag lying on the floor was placed in such a way that in order to read a protocol manual one had to step on it. This led to the arrest of several visitors for outrage and the artist himself for violating the law of protection of the flag of 1989.

 

Francesca Poza. Courtesy of the artist.

ARTE & PALABRA. CONVERSATIONS WITH CARLOS DEL AMOR

Thread is one of the most seemingly fragile materials in existence, yet a combination of threads can be indestructible. It is the triumph of fragility over brute force.

Among its many virtues, thread has its meaning, both real and imagined. It is a word that oozes poetry and makes us think of following a trail, sometimes infinite. Francesca Poza (Mataró, 1965) adds the written word to the many virtues of thread, giving her works a firmness that is always delicate but almost impossible to break. She weaves between letters and memory, pieces that seek to establish what has been lived, to leave a trace in a world that is increasingly ephemeral, more fleeting, more liquid, more elusive. In his work, poetry, literature and time intertwine in a harmonious way, resulting in creations of beautiful originality that are as subtle as they are powerful.

Perhaps Francesca has managed to give an answer to what Carmen Laforet wondered in "Nada", when she said: Who can understand the thousand threads that unite the souls of men and the reach of their words?

The poet reborn. Fabric made with book paper. 2023.

If you had to define yourself as an artist, in one sentence, how would you define yourself?

I could define myself as a multidisciplinary artist who poetizes matter.

The thread even predates the advent of writing, perhaps it's not exact, but I like to think that it began to "write" by spinning... Then came the written word, and in this encounter full of history and ancestors is your work. Spun words, sounds good, doesn't it?

Spun words sound good, the subtlety of the thread that organizes time, the connection, the continuity, the rhythm of literature without reading, because it is a very recurrent phrase in my work, that as the weft is made and unmade, the work and the poetry reappear.

As if they were chains. Fabric made with book paper. 2023.

Why does everyone say that you are unclassifiable? Don't you think we live for labels? It's nice to be difficult to classify. Do you feel like a "freak"?

No, I don't feel like a freak. I like the fact that I am unclassifiable. It's difficult to define me as a sculptor, an engraver, or a weaver. I try to make poetry with the material I have, to make the fragile speak to us, to transport us; the paper as matter and the thread as symbol, to penetrate us.

When one stops in front of your work one has two sensations, well three, one of tranquility, the other two are paradoxical because the first impression is one of fragility, however, after a while you realize that these "threads" are strong because they are united and have made common cause. It's a bit like so many things in life, isn't it?

Yes, that's really what I'm looking for, to express peace and tranquility above all. We are going through very difficult times and I like to express the good that people have inside us.

Testament of Oscar Wilde. Fabric made with book paper. 2023.

Memory is an intimate territory that sometimes betrays us, and forgetting is its main enemy. Is your work against forgetting?

Yes, the art of remembering and forgetting is a recurring theme in my work, because I had and still have the idea that we have to be something, that something has to remain in our memory. So I try to create a poetics that is embodied in different aspects of creativity. You could say that this essence of a series of needs, of leaving a permanent record, is because we don't want to be forgotten, and this is a way I have of expressing myself.

Your work is very poetic... What do you think is impossible to poeticise?

There is nothing impossible, nothing that cannot be poeticised. And yes, my work is poetic, why weave, what for? Poetry and weaving travel in the imagination and come together. Visual art, manual art, in short: poetry.

Music of broken windows.Hahnemühle paper 300gr. 2023.

The thread leaves a trace, the words leave a trace... Your work leaves a trace. Where do you want it to go?

Words leave traces and I want my work to leave traces: the feelings and sensations of the viewer. That the work of art is not just for decoration, but something that when you wake up in the morning, you look at it and you feel different again, that it leaves you with something to feel.

Where do you think your work is going?

My work itself, I don't know where it's going, it leads the way, it guides me day after day. I would like to be able to continue weaving poems that travel in the imagination, to enter and leave through the multiple paths that the material and the feelings take me.