Sunday, April 3, 2011

Picked RAW Peeled: Censorship panel NTC

Introduction to the panel discussion held at the Expressive Arts Institute (NTC) on March 30, 2011.  Panelists attending: Ann Berchtold, Co-Founder/Director - ART SAN DIEGO Contemporary Art Fair; Scott B. Davis, Director of Exhibitions and Design Museum of Photographic Arts San Diego; Wes Chester, Expressive Arts Therapist, Co-DirectorExpressive Arts Institute, Curator – Martha Pace Swift Gallery; Kinsee Morlan, Arts & Web Editor – SD CityBeat; Anna Stump, Artist – San Diego; Alan Ziter, Executive Director – NTC Foundation; Introduction: Kevin Freitas; Moderator: Katherine Sweetman

I believe the arts have come under assault in America and abroad.  We as artists or those who support the arts are partially responsible for letting this fight wash upon our shores.  We have grown too accustomed to the liberty and freedom we have chosen as our way of life, the freedom to create, the freedom to express ourselves without much insight or commentary from the outside world – except when we believe it has infringed on our rights to do so.  Our quiet revolutions are fought on the canvas or with the clay between our fingers, but they remain just that, quiet.  The outrage that occurs, when a community like ours feels it has been slighted, misunderstood, or misrepresented – much like many other communities who struggle to define themselves socially and politically – are often quick to judge the oppressor, sometimes without fully understanding the issues at hand.  Take censorship for example, the topic of our discussion tonight.
I believe we would do well to stop universally applying the word censorship to every instance, akin to ordering a Coke when you know they only sell Pepsi, and by that I mean, we are all censors to some degree (or have been accomplices to).  We have on occasion censored ourselves, loved ones, and even our children for the sake of our own personal beliefs, agendas or creative expression.  I believe there are many degrees of censorship and while fundamentally wrong, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t consider it at times with measured appropriateness and extreme caution. 
The point being, how do you determine what is or is not censorship when we sometimes practice it unbeknownst to ourselves and others?  Does it only apply to the arts, of course not?  Perhaps, a wiser choice would be to use a little common sense instead of repressive actions or repressive regimes for we are not in Egypt, Syria, Libya, or China but simply in San Diego.  Our worries our indeed minor, we can handle it.  A “strong” reaction to a work of art can come in all shapes and sizes and is governed by the particularities of where it is being shown, who’s viewing it and how it’s being appreciated - or not.  Censorship in all its various forms and colors will undoubtedly continue to restrict even sometimes punishing its intended target.  Shit happens, but it’s better to know why it happens - the root cause - for the benefit of both artists and the public.  So let’s talk about it.  It is always better to know then simply throw our hands up in the air in revolt.  Ignorance is not bliss.

More commentary here

1 comment:

  1. Fascinating to see the discussion occurring around this subject. I am glad that a little awareness is being developed. We can all improve our attitudes and expand our thinking on this subject.