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Urban Art Censorship

Political Street Art | Right, it’s not a new topic but today I want to write down some of my thoughts about censorship in the urban arts. The reason for that decision was first the fact that the dollar-coffin mural by Blu was painted over just a couple of hours after it was completed, because of objections by a museum’s director. Second, it’s because of the fact that we have the ARTAQ Urban Art Awards in town, which is somehow supported by the Reporters Without Borders.

Anyway, the first thing which came into my mind when I thought about the problem of censorship was that interesting statement, street artist A1one did about political-motivated censorship of urban art in Iran:

Three months ago, I signed an agreement with the police that I never do it (street art is meant) again, because they take it political and they take it more seriously. The main reason is that 30 years ago one of the mediums they used for the revolution was walls and the spray-paints… (A1one)

The “wrong”, artistic pictured opinion in a “wrong” context is not allowed and will be destroyed (like in Blu’s case) or the artist prosecuted (like in A1one’s case). It’s quite similar to the facts we now know about the buff of the Blu mural. When critical anti-war artwork is destroyed because it’s next to a war memorial (I’m pretty sure that was one of the reasons why Blu did it that way!) you can without doubt call that censorship.

And I don’t have RJ’s opinion, when he says that “if Blu understands and respects MOCA’s decision enough to paint another mural there”, he would do too. I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t ever paint again for that museum, because it’s irresponsible to say: “We don’t like your last political statement, please come again and paint the right.” I still can’t believe it happened…

Anyhow, although there are some who have a similar understanding, my opinion is not the ultimate, that’s why I want to read your comments on that topic! Can you understand the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles? When is an artwork an political statement and when becomes buffing censorship? Difficult questions I know, but it’s also a difficult topic…

Image by Unurth.com

3 total comments on this postSubmit yours
  1. Wasn’t this building right across from this one a U.S. Veteran’s type building – for military people?

    -Would the artist paint a derogatory/questionable picture of Mohammed on a wall next to a Mosque?
    -Would the artist paint sex scenes on a wall next to a kindergarten?
    -Would the artist paint a picture of Queen Elizabeth having sex with animals next on a wall next to Buckingham Palace?

    Artist’s need to use a bit of common sense when expressing themselves.

  2. I think this was a legitimate piece of socio-political commentary that people had a valid reason to both object to and ask for it be removed.

    I agree with Blu’s statement (or what I perceive as his statement, though its hardly subtle) and I understand why he did it in plain view of a U.S. Veteran’s building. But something that blatantly confrontational, in both scale, content, and placement, was bound to be protested heavily.

    The context of the piece was clearly designed to provoke this kind of reaction. If Blu didn’t intend for this to be painted over then he is very naive. If he did intend for it to be painted over then he is very clever.

  3. That this work was buffed is crazy! Walter T… do you think the Museum just let him paint whatever he wanted on that wall, this process would be vetted and I am sure it was approved by someone… and the Statement ‘Artist’s need to use a bit of common sense when expressing themselves.’ is extremely naive, and in this case (if you were familiar with Blu’s work you would know this) completely silly. Blu’s work can be controversial and confrontational. THAT IS PART OF WHY HE WAS SELECTED IN THE FIRST PLACE.

    Shame on you MOMA… shame on you.

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Urban Art Core is your independent, international source for street art, graffiti and urbanism from around the world, mainly focused on stories, news and actions taking place in urban environments.

It spreads the urban Berlin voice loud and clear to metropolises far and wide and celebrates the urban arts, urban exploration movement and guerilla art interventions with news about artists, trends and exhibitions, since 2009.

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