Censorpedia: An Interactive Database of Censorship Incidents

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This Week's Featured Case

Some Living American Women Artists/Last Supper

Date: 1995

Region: North America

Subject: Religious Political/Economic/Social Opinion

Medium: Mixed Media


Artist: Mary Beth Edelson (b. 1933)

Confronting Bodies: Eight faculty members at Franklin and Marshal College, including a Russian Orthodox Priest

Dates of Action: October 1995

Location: The Women's Center, Franklin and Marshal College, Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Description of Artwork: The 1972 poster recasts Da'Vinci's Last Supper with women artists of the '70s feminist art movement, and has been recognized as the iconic image in the art of 70s feminism. A border of more women artists frames the image. Georgia O'Keefe's head takes the place of Jesus.

The Incident: A copy of the poster was donated to the Women's Center upon its opening in 1992, and the center placed it on permanent display. As a result, eight faculty members complained that it was an affront to Christian sensitivities. They called for the censure of the Women's Center and its Executive Board, who declined to remove the image.

Results of Incident: As in 1972, the piece attracted media attention and sparked debate between religious communities and feminists.

Mary Beth Edelson (formerly Mary Beth Snyder) first encountered censorship in 1955 as a student at Indiana's DePauw University. Two of her works were removed from an exhibit on display in their Union Building. They were eliminated by suggestion of some faculty members who complained that they were "degrading, not pretty, and would discourage other students from entering the Art Department." Her pieces were replaced by two of her other works, and later exhibited in a senior exhibit in the Art Building.

Source: NCAC, In a Pig's Eye: The Offence of Some Living American Women Artists, Linda S. Aleci, DePauw University newspaper; http://www.marybethedelson.com/posters.html

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.

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