Singapore M1 Fringe Festival “Art & Skin” censored

Thea Fitz-James’ Naked Ladies (Photo – Thea Fitz-James)

The festival ran from 4-15 January 2017. Two performances – Singaporean danceer Ming Poon’s ‘Undressing Room’ and Canadian Thea Fitz-James’ ‘Naked Ldies’ – were cut by Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), stating that the works have exceeded the R18 rating. Poon’s performance is a “one-to-one performance where the performer and an audience-participant execute a ritual of undressing each other in total silence” and is done in private, without an audience. Fitz-James’ performance is a “lecture about the history of the naked female body”, which the artist delivers in the nude. Festival organisers decided against compromising on the artistic integrity of these works and stay convinced that the performances made “deliberate attempts to distinguish nudity from sexual connotations”.

A Festival press realases says “Through history, the arts have demonstrated its power to open minds and hearts, to transform and heal, and to inspire – if not effect – real, valuable change. We stand resolutely for this, and despite the hurdles that can seem daunting and sometimes enervating, we are not backing down from doing what the Fringe Festival does best: challenge all that is taken for granted as intransigent, unwavering and unforgiving.”

Sources: Artsfreedom, The Straits Times,  The Online Citizen

Turkey’s state of emergency

In Turkey,  under state of emergency and long before, the freedom of expression has always been censored. Two recent collection have been published now: Freemuse presents with “Turkey – The Freemuse Files” a selection from hundreds of documents and publications on violations on artistic freedom from almost 20 years.
Siah Bant, the  platform for artistic freedom of expression in Turkey and the journalist Elif İnce published for IFEX the special report “Peace is a no-go zone for artists in Turkey’s state of emergency”, referring especially to Kurdish artists.

Abu Sakha one year in administrative detention

To reject Abu Sakha’s petition for a fair trial after one year of administrative detention without charge the Supreme court hearing took only 15 minutes on 5th December. His re-appeal June this year ended with an extention of 6 months. A delegation of 15 representatives from the Palestinian Circus School, the EU and several NGOs like Amnesty International and Terre des Hommes Italy attended the hearing.

Around 580 Palestinians are presently held by Israel under administrative detention, as Amnesty International reports. AI calls on Israel to stop the usage of administrative detention and to release all conscience prisoners immediately and unconditionally. On January 27 the EU office in Jerusalem made also an official statement and expressed its concern towards Israel about the extensive use of administrative detention without formal charge.

The Palestinian Circus School calls all supporterts to contact the respective Ministers of Foreign Affairs, the diplomatic representations to Israel and the Palestinian Authority and the EU representation offices to put pressure on Israel to stop the arbitrary use of administrative detention and free all Palestinian administrative detainees or give them the right to a fair trial.

Trump requests apology for actors statement

Yesterday, the president-elect wrote on Twitter that the “Hamilton” cast had “harassed” the future Vice-president Miek Pence by making the statement and had been “very rude.” “Hamilton” is the present Broadway musical hit at about colonial rebels shaping the future of an unformed country.  Mike Pence attendet the show ohamiltonn Friday at Richard Rodgers Theater in Manhattan.  Brandon Victor Dixon playing Vice president Aaron Burr, read a statement after the show, adressed to Mike Pence sitting in the center orchestra section. “We, sir — we — are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights,” he said, applauded by the audience. The statement was written by the show’s creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda; its director, Thomas Kail; and the lead producer, Jeffrey Seller, with input from cast members.
“Apologize!” Trump demanded.

Source and video with the statement: New York Times

See also at Huffington Post “What It Means To Be An Artist In The Time Of Trump”, statements of 21 artists.

Terror on arts and culture is not limited to buildings, documents and sites

Today an event titled “Time to end intentional destruction of cultural heritage: a human rights call to action” happened at the UN headquarters in New York. The UN Special Rapporteur in the field of Cultural Rights, Karima Bennoune, noted that Cultural heritage is not limited to tangible objects like buildings or ruins, but applies to intangible works that include works of artistic expression as well. Freemuse was was invited by the UN to briefly address the destruction of the living arts and has published yesterday the  “Report on the effects of terror on arts and culture” with 10 recommendations to the UN and other international bodies:

  • UN member states must pay stronger attention to violations on artistic freedom. Most UPR submissions focussing on freedom of expression are purely discussing media and neglect attacks on artistic freedom.
  • The universal right to artistic freedom of expression reaffirmed at the United Nations Human Rights Council on 18 September 2015 should be supported by all UN member states.
  • UN Special Rapporteurs and Treaty bodies should pay more attention to violations on artistic freedom.
  • A special task force should analyse in-depth the nature, size and effects of terror on artistic freedom and the uses and abuses of terror legislations.
  • International donor communities should establish more support programmes for artists and cultural industries victimized by terror.
  • Support to organisations documenting and monitoring violations on artistic freedom should be established.
  • The UN Human Rights Council should host a hearing on terror and artistic freedom.
  • Inspired by the “UN Action Plan on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity”, UNESCO should develop an action plan in collaboration with artistic civil society groups to secure artists’ safety.
  • UN Member States should, in accordance with their obligations under international conventions, take concrete measures to secure artists and audiences so they can express themselves freely and take part in cultural activities without fear of reprisal.
  • UN Member States should guarantee that current and new anti-terror legislation is not being used to silence peaceful artistic expression.