Censorpedia: An Interactive Database of Censorship Incidents

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Featured Case

Roopa Vasudevan hands-up1.jpg

Artist: Roopa Vasudevan and Atif Ateeq ("Hands Up" installation)

Year: 2015

Date of Action: February 2020

Region: North America

Location: Flux Factory, Long Island City (Queens), NY

Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion


Confronting Bodies: Flux Factory, NYPD Patrolmen's Benevolent Association

Description of Artwork: HANDS UP is an interactive installation that explores law enforcement’s relationship with people of color. The installation simulates the experience of being confronted by the police in the manner that resulted in the 2014 shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed African-American teenager, in Ferguson, MO. The piece directly places visitors in the chaotic and overwhelming moments that have since led to an ongoing debate about the state of race relations in America. Video plays on loop of Freddie Gray’s arrest in Baltimore, and police shootings of Walter Scott in South Carolina and Michael Brown in Ferguson. The installation is meant to be experienced alone.

From the website: "One at a time, a viewer walks behind a curtain into a room containing a large wall of flashing red and blue lights. They hear the sounds of sirens and the voices of police telling them to put their hands up. Once they comply and their hands are in the air, a gunshot is heard, several blinding strobe flashes are triggered, and the noises disappear. The viewer is shaken by the sudden light and noise, and left in a chilling void of silence as they exit the space."

The Incident: Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association (the NYPD police union), told the Daily News: “This so-called ‘art project’ is based upon a lie and perpetuates a falsehood about police officers and their use of force. If art is supposed to enlighten and uplift, this piece of crap doesn’t qualify.” Lynch told PIX11 that he had not seen the installation, but he had heard about it.

Results of Incident: After being harassed, Flux Factory closed the space to the public for the remainder of the exhibition and visits to the installation could be made by appointment only. ('Hands Up' was scheduled to be on display at Flux Factory from May 15–19, 2015).

Source: https://rouxpz.com/hands-up

HANDS UP: https://rouxpz.com/hands-up

Indian American Explores Police Gun Battle Deaths through Digital Art, Jun 8, 2015

Crimes of the Art, Benjamin Sutton May 19, 2015

Police union slams ‘Hands Up’ art exhibit in Queens, MAY 18, 2015

Video interview (PIX11)

Hands Up: Flux Factory Installation Simulates Police Shooting, by Cait Munro, May 18, 2015

NYPD union slams 'Hands Up' art installation in Queens, By THOMAS TRACY and ANDY MAI. NEW YORK DAILY NEWS MAY 17, 2015

Controversial Queens exhibit simulates police shooting, By Nidhi Prakash, May 17, 2015

New York exhibit taps into dialogue on race and policing, by Alice Popovici MAY 15, 2015

Flux Factory Instagram post, May 15, 2015: Hands Up

HANDS UP, a project by Atif Ateeq and Roopa Vasudevan / Opening Reception Friday May 15th, 7 – 10pm / On view May 15th-19th, 2015

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.

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