Art, politics and the growing threat of censorship

Earlier this week US art quilter Sue Bleiweiss posted a ‘call for entry’ called Threads of Resistance on the SAQA members site and publicised it on the SAQA yahoo group page. There followed a vitriolic exchange of views in which Sue and others were verbally abused. She broke no rules – SAQA is an organisation that promotes quilt as an art form and encourages it’s members to share information on exhibiting opportunities. The bitter exchange of views moved onto Facebook.

The debate (and I use that word loosely as debate requires respecting others right to have an opinion) seemed to split in two. Much of it was between two sides of the US political rift. But much of it was also about whether it was OK to post ‘political’ stuff on social media. There was a suggestion to flood Facebook with art rather than angst.

Which struck me as odd. Art is an expression of the individual, their insprations, their beliefs, their politics. It can be filled with angst. It can be brutal and it can be uncomfortable to view. It can be beautiful and it can fill the viewer with joy.

And you can walk away from it if it offends you. Just like you can ignore a ‘call for entry’ on a subject you don’t agree with. Just like you can unfriend that person whose views you find hateful. But if all that hatred means we become afraid to express ourselves. Well then we are truly f*!k*d.


2 responses to “Art, politics and the growing threat of censorship

  1. Lynda Warder

    I am from Canada and there is much “debate” on this subject here too. I agree with Leah’s comment. In fact I love how she said it. So “Ditto”!
    Art has often reflected events of the times, even more so, now we are one world rather than isolated entities.
    Censorship is incidious. It starts when we allow Nationalism to destroy individualism. Don’t let the Bullies takes over. Step in before we repeat what happened in Germany and other countries.
    We need to feel safe to express our opinion …in our quilting!! In SAQA …WHERE MANY OF OUR LEADERS ARE! Lead us well!


    • You’re so right – censorship is incidious. For all the good that comes out of social media it also allows individuals to say hateful things that they would never say face to face. And often without comsequence. Social media is changing our society at a frightening speed.


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