Censorpedia: An Interactive Database of Censorship Incidents

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This Week's Featured Case


Date: 2006

Region: Europe

Subject: Religious, Explicit Sexuality

Medium: Photography, Painting and Sculpture


La Poupee, Hans Bellmer

Artist: Hans Bellmer (1902 - 1975) Confronting Bodies: Iwona Blazwick, director of the Whitechapel Gallery Dates of Action: September, 2006 Location: Whitechapel Gallery, London, England

Description of Artwork: Surreal, ghoulish depictions of human anatomy, such as life-size nude dolls.

The Incident: The exhibition, originally mounted at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, arrived at the Whitechapel in September. Twelve pieces were then removed from the exhibition the day before it opened to the public. The gallery cited simply lack of space, however, Agnès de la Baumelle, the curator of the exhibition, stated the works had been personally removed by Iwona Blazwick, the Whitechapel Gallery Director, as an act of censorship. According to Baumelle, Blazwick had described the works in question as "sulphurous" and had declared that they would be dangerous to exhibit not just because of their "paedophile" overtones but also because the area of Whitechapel has a large Muslim population.

Results of Incident: The exhibition opened without the offending images. Baumelle herself protested at the works' removal, as did two of the collectors who loaned items for the exhibition. One of the collectors threatened to withdraw all of his loans from the exhibition unless the twelve censored works were reinstated.

Source: http://www.whitechapelgallery.org/exhibitions/hans-bellmer, http://artnectar.com/2011/04/naked-truth-about-art/, http://robberbridegroom.blogspot.com/2006/10/bellmers-sulphurous-scandal.html and Reuters

What is Censorpedia?

Censorpedia is a crowdsourced online database of censorship cases within the arts and in culture. It is aimed at those researching censorship, at activists working for freedom of expression and at artists and other cultural producers whose expression has been subject to censorship or attempted censorship.

Censorpedia documents censorship incidents by providing the who, what, when, where and why. By providing a repository of information about what is vulnerable to censorship and about the strategies and tactics that have defeated previous’ censorship attempts, Censorpedia aids the fight for free expression.

Researchers can search for a specific case, year or keyword using the search box, as well as browse by medium, by grounds for censorship, or explore a random case.

Activists can search for ongoing cases or contribute a case that is ongoing or recently resolved.

Artists and cultural producers are similarly invited to add cases they are directly involved with or are familiar with first hand.

Censorpedia builds on the landmark 1994 art project The File Room, initiated by Muntadas.

For more information about censorship visit our Annotated Bibliography


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