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38 Greene Street 3rd Floor New York NY 10013 T 212 226 3970 www.artistsspace.org limits of freedom contemporary art. Although she challenges the status quo with her shows (including an installation last year that daringly transformed the gallery into a presidential campaign centre for the former candidate Mir Hossein Moussavi), art is kept entirely outside the wider public space. So however audacious the shows on display in her gallery, their impact is limited. In Russia, at the other extreme, the performance artists Voina, described as ‘art terrorists’ by their admirer Banksy, mock the authorities and the law with their provocative actions (pp. 89-102); it is no coincidence that the state hits back against Voina with the same laws that it uses against political activists.
When Anish Kapoor withdrew from participation in the ‘UK Now’ festival, due to take place in China next year and organised by the British Council, in protest at the arrest of Ai Weiwei earlier this year, he threw down the gauntlet to the artistic community. ‘ I think it’s essential that while there are still a hundred and more intellectuals locked up in Chinese jails it’s the duty of all artists to stand up and say we won’t take part,’ Anish Kapoor tells Index in Censorship in an exclusive interview (pp. 14-19). ‘I called out to artists all over – don’t take part, don’t show in China.’ It’s a stand that challenges the British Council’s position on engaging with repressive regimes: ‘It is through cultural exchange that we best demonstrate the benefits of free artistic expression and build supportive links between people in the UK and China,’ its chief executive Martin Davidson said in support of the China festival. Kapoor rejects the argument; he has challenged the British Council to dedicate the central piece of the show to Ai Weiwei. ‘The governmental view of the past 30 years has been we’ll speak quietly in public and loudly in private,’ he says. ‘Well, 30 years of doing that hasn’t done a damn thing … silence says there are economic interests that override human rights interests.’
We’d like to thank the BBC World Service Trust for making it possible to publish Index on Censorship in colour for the first time in the magazine’s history.
©Jo Glanville 40(3): 1/5 DOI 10.1177/0306422011419469 www.indexoncensorship.org