Against Again Troupe is the Annual Grand Prize winner of the 18th Taishin Arts Award, it was announced in Taipei on Jun 6. Taking home NTD 1.5 million, the troupe received the prize for White Clear Song, directed and written by Snow Huang.
We, the undersigned artists and cultural workers, feel compelled to speak out against the closure of “After ‘Freedom of Expression?’” at Aichi Triennale 2019 from the perspective of gender equality—one of the stated principles of the Triennale’s organization. One of the primary targets of the harassment and threats of violence received by the Triennale was the sculpture Statue of Peace by Korean artists Kim Seo-kyung and Kim Eun-sung, a work inspired by the voices and experiences of the women who suffered under the “comfort woman” system of forced prostitution, sexual slavery, and human trafficking exploited by the Imperial Japanese Army and Navy in military campaigns in the Asia-Pacific from the 1930s onwards.
The problem behind the closing of “After ‘Freedom of Expression?’” was initially an operational problem of “risk management.” But now I think the situation is gradually sliding into a problem of self-censorship by Aichi governor Hideaki Omura and artistic director Daisuke Tsuda in the name of “safety.”
The closure of “After ‘Freedom of Expression?'” at Aichi Triennale 2019 has set off a chain reaction of responses from artists in the exhibition, beginning with requests by Minouk Lim and Park Chan-kyong for their works to be withdrawn from the Triennale submitted on August 3, the same day as the announcement of the closure. Many of the Triennale participants are still considering what actions to take, and how they can stand up for freedom of expression. Some are acting in groups, others individually. This page has been set up to document the statements that accompany their actions.
We hereby present the temporary artist-run space Sanatorium. “Curating is curing,” writes Boris Groys in his book Art Power. “It is not a coincidence that the word ‘curator’ is etymologically related to ‘cure.’” While there is no curator here, in the spirit of the root meaning of curation, we are operating Sanatorium as a “prescription” for the situation we currently find ourselves in.
Censorship is illegal. Despite of this fact, “After ‘Freedom of Expression?’” was unjustly removed from the Aichi Triennale. In protest of this decision, I voluntarily forgo the opportunity to exhibit my work.
As a participating artist of Aichi Triennale 2019, I’m very saddened for not being able to show Child Soldier to the Japanese and international audiences in Aichi. I have insisted on withdrawing my work Child Soldier from the exhibition. My withdrawal is in protest against the censorship of the exhibition “After ‘Freedom of Expression?’”
We, the undersigned artists participating in the Aichi Triennale (2019), condemn the decision to close a full section of the exhibition as an unacceptable act of censorship. The section titled “After ‘Freedom of Expression?’”, a special project of the Aichi Triennale, was closed indefinitely to the public on August 3rd due to political pressure from the State as well as pressure from anonymous sources threatening to take violent and terrorist actions unless the works in question were removed from the exhibition.
The Japan branch of the International Association of Art Critics (AICA) has released a statement on the closure of “After ‘Freedom of Expression?’” at Aichi Triennale 2019. Dated August 7 and signed by AICA Japan president Fumio Nanjo, the AICA statement expresses grave concern about the situation, firmly stating that “the suppression of expressive activities by violence and threats is unacceptable.”
We the undersigned are participating artists in Aichi Triennale 2019. We here express our thoughts on the closure of the exhibit “After ‘Freedom of Expression?’”, a section of the Triennale featuring artworks that have experienced various forms of censorship at public art institutions across Japan.