Shades of Absence:
Outside Inside

(Location in Venice: Giardini main concourse, in front of the Central Pavilion)

Augmented reality installation, developed for an intervention into the 2011 Venice Biennale.
By Tamiko Thiel

[ On mobiles only: Back to "Shades of Absence" AR artwork ]

 

"Shades of Absence: Outside Inside" focuses on artists who have faced threats of arrest or violence. Placed in the Giardini main concourse, in this augmented reality (AR) artwork gold silhouettes of artists' faces hover in a virtual pavilion that is formed by terms of transgression used to justify censorship. Some are art world insiders and international stars, others are known only within their own circles. The faces are only a tiny fraction of the many artists worldwide who face arrest or physical violence and are anonymized to represent the many censored artists who do not enjoy widespread public support for their cases.

Below are some examples; I would appreciate hearing of other recent cases (from this century) in the Facebook group "Shades of Absence" or via email at shadesofabsence@gmail.com.

Disclaimer: I do my best to check facts, but do not guarantee 100% accuracy. The content and opinions expressed by the artists in their works are their own and do not necessarily represent mine, but it is important that their cases are known and can be discussed in public - without fear of arrest or violence.

To view this page from a PC, go to http://mission-base.com/tamiko/AR/sa/shades-censoredArtists.html

 


Shades of Absence:
Public Voids

(Location in Venice: Piazza San Marco)

Augmented reality installation, developed for an intervention into the 2011 Venice Biennale.
By Tamiko Thiel

[ On mobiles only: Back to "Shades of Absence" AR artwork ]

 

Works in public places are especially controversial, as they affect a broad public and the grounds for censorship are often left unclear or unspoken. Although the Venice Biennial often provides a protected space for artworks censored elsewhere in the world, even it has censored artworks, especially in the public spaces of Venice. "Shades of Absence: Public Voids" calls attention to a few cases of censorship of public art around the world. I would appreciate hearing of other recent cases (from this and the previous century) in the Facebook group "Shades of Absence" or via email at shadesofabsence@gmail.com.

Disclaimer: I do my best to check facts, but do not guarantee 100% accuracy. The content and opinions expressed by the artists in their works are their own and do not necessarily represent mine, but it is important that their cases are known and can be discussed in public - without fear of arrest or violence.

To view this page from a PC, go to http://mission-base.com/tamiko/AR/sa/shades-censoredArtists.html


Shades of Absence:
Schlingensief Gilded

(Location: German Pavilion/Giardini)

Augmented reality installation, developed for an intervention into the 2011 Venice Biennale.
By Tamiko Thiel

[ On mobiles only: Back to "Shades of Absence" AR artwork ]

 

A memorial to celebrate the canonization of Christoph Schlingensief by the Venice Biennial, a year after his death in 2010.

There are probably many, many times when people wanted to censor Christoph Schlingensief. Several cases when this actually happened:

 


Shades of Absence:
Governing Bodies

Locations:

Created for the 2013 invitational show "Manifest:AR" at Gallery 21 of the Corcoran Gallery of ARt / Corcoran College of ARt and Design.
By Tamiko Thiel, 2013

[ On mobiles only: Back to "Shades of Absence" AR artwork ]

 

In "Shades of Absence: Governing Bodies" figures of artists who have been censored or come under attack by high government officials in the USA are anonymized as gold silhouettes, and stand amongst terms of censorship as representatives of the multitudes of artists whose work has been attacked in similar ways.

To view this webpage on a PC, go to http://mission-base.com/tamiko/AR/sa/shades-censoredArtists.html

 

Government censorship spanning the 20th and 21st centuries:

 

Paul Cadmus (1934, Corcoran Gallery of Art): [ US Navy website ]  [ queer-arts.org website ]   [ interview ]  

 

Alexander Liberman (1971, Corcoran Gallery of Art grounds): [ Photo: "Adam" ]  [ WA Post article ]

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (1989, U Penn Institute of Contemporary Art, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center):
[ WA Project for the Arts show ]  [ Official website ]

 

Andres Serrano (1989, Southeast Center for Contemporary Art): [ The Nation ]  [ Artist's website ]  

 

David Wojnarowicz (2010, Smithsonian Institution National Portrait Gallery) [ ppow Gallery - Estate of David Wojnarowicz ]

 

The NEA Four:

The National Endowment for the Arts was set up by the US Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government to fund the arts in the USA. In the "Culture Wars" around 1990 the NEA came under attack by members of Congress, led by Senator Jessie Helms, for funding certain artists and artworks. Under pressure from some of these members to completely abolish the NEA, Congress adopted the Williams/Coleman Amendment (20 U.S.C. § 954(d)(1)) requiring the NEA to take "into consideration general standards of decency" and " that obscenity is without artistic merit, is not protected speech, and shall not be funded." (I was not able to find a definition of "obscene" in the document, however.)

The "NEA Four" were four artists whose projects were denied funding while this amendment was still under consideration by Congress. A common pattern in censorship cases is that an authority in the art world self-censors preemptively, in order to avoid controversy - which of course raises another controversy. See this article in People's Magazine (sic!) on the artists' reactions to the NEA denial of funding.

The NEA Four filed suit against the NEA claiming violation of their First Amendment rights as their applications were rejected on political grounds. The case went all the way up to the Supreme Court under the name "National Endowment for the Arts et al. versus Karen Finley et al. (524 U.S. 569)" and was decided in favor of the NEA in 1998. (See the Opinion of the Court, NEA vs. Finley, which mentions "homoeroticism" as being by definition obscene, and the dissent by Justice Souter. The full text of the decision is at www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/boundvolumes/524bv.pdf.)

The NEA 4 was in residence at the New Museum May-June 2013 as part of the show “NYC 1993: Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star.”

 

 


For a more comprehensive database of censorship, see the wiki Censorpedia being developed by the National Coalition Against Censorship. This project builds on Antoni Muntadas's 1994 project The File Room.

Each anonymized figure in the AR artwork stands in for multitudinous artists whose works in public spaces have been censored. Please post recent cases of censorship (in this century) in the Facebook group "Shades of Absence", or email them to shadesofabsence@gmail.com.