Academic Session 5: RCA 2014

40th Anniversary Conference & Bookfair
Royal College of Art, London
10 - 12 April 2014

Censorship: Silencing the Artwork

Session Convenors:

Riann Coulter F.E. McWilliam Gallery, Banbridge
Róisín Kennedy University College Dublin

Censorship of visual art is a ubiquitous feature of the media. But apart from the most extreme cases, such as Soviet and Fascist repression of modernist art, remarkably little serious analysis has been made of the phenomenon by art historians. Since the Enlightenment visual art in the West has been subjected to indiscriminate censorship rather than official regulation, making it difficult to evaluate the impact of institutional control on the exhibition and production of the artwork. Globally dominant ideologies through institutions of state, museum and the academy exclude art that is deemed threatening to established systems of order. In identifying the purpose and mechanism of censorship Sue Curry Jansen argues for a ‘reflexive power-talk’ in which the socially structured silences which make insidious forms of censorship possible are identified and criticised.

This session explores the silences surrounding institutional censorship. It considers how and why the museum, the state, the academy and even the discipline of art history have excluded art works. How do apparently arbitrary forms of censorship impact on the practice, exhibition and patronage of visual art, currently and historically? How does such censorship operate in local and global contexts? The session considers what strategies artists, curators and critics have used to challenge the repression of the work.

Alana Jelinek (Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of
Cambridge) Corporate Censorship

Elena Parpa (Birkbeck College, University of London) A Censorship in Disguise?: The case of Rumours, an installation by Cypriot artist Socratis Socratous for the Venice Biennale (2009 )

Kirstie Imber (Birkbeck College, University of London) Silenced Voices: The Censorship of Art in Iran

Louise Boyd (University of Glasgow) Sex, Art, and Museums: On the Changing Institutional Censorship of Shunga

Tomasz Kitlinski (University of Brighton) Art Censorship in Today’s Eastern Europe

Alexey Ulko (British Council, Uzbekistan) Post-Soviet and Post-colonial forms of Art Censorship in Central Asia

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