Censorship

Topics: Andres Serrano, Piss Christ, Ai Weiwei Pages: 5 (1234 words) Published: May 20, 2015
Censorship

Censorship is a highly controversial topic regarding the arts, controlling the freedom of expression of artists to convey what is deemed acceptable within society. Ai Weiwei falls victim under the power of the regime and the influence of censorship guidelines within China, limiting the display of his art due to the important messages he raises. Andres Serrano has experienced attempted censorship on his provocative image, Piss Christ, and has been attacked for producing offensive art. Censorship aims to conceal certain artworks which clash with the viewpoints of others; however, it should not be enforced as they are confrontational, challenging audiences and act in response to political, social and cultural contexts. Ai Weiwei is notorious throughout the world for his struggle to rebel against censorship in China in order to reveal the corrupt and unjust system. Weiwei’s investigation into the 2008 earthquake in Sichuan has contributed significantly to the surveillance of his every day life and lead to an 81 day detention.1 He had attempted to retrieve the names of the victims of the disaster and expose the immorality of the government as well as creating works in remembrance of the casualties and as a reminder of the effects of the event, which include Snake Ceiling and Straight. Straight2 is made up of steel reinforcing bars collected from collapsed Sichuan schools which he has bent straight, acknowledging them as well as trying to highlight the metaphor of trying to set things right/straight, which the Chinese government failed to do. The title of the piece reads, “The tragic reality of today is reflected in the true plight of our spiritual existence. We are spineless and cannot stand straight,” communicating the lack of ability and courage to stand up for what we believe in nowadays, which is exactly what Weiwei is trying to achieve and censorship is only averting this. Ai Weiwei continues to be in conflict with China’s communist government who are trying to restrict his political activism through monitoring his location and activity as well as preventing him from being able to leave the country.3 Censorship is not only being implemented on Weiwei’s artworks but also on him as an artist and ultimately, affecting him as a human being. This is a strong case of censorship as it intrudes on Weiwei’s privacy and is evidently being misused by the government through abusing his rights. China has been successful in the censorship of Ai Weiwei and his works within the country; however, they have been unable to impede the worldwide recognition and support he has received with his artworks being shared throughout various other nations. As an artist, Weiwei should be able to express himself freely through his works as it is the very essense of creativity; however, it is unfortunate he resides in a country where there are such evident and concrete boundaries concerning ideologies which do not parallel to that of the authority. In this contemporary age, there is increasing political and social change which Weiwei is attempting to drive towards through being a symbolic representation of what a large number of individuals within China may be thinking but unable to present it as effectively as Weiwei does in his artworks. Also, the absence of censorship is important in order to promote free will in terms of being able to make choices about what is available to us in society. The enforcement of censorship in China, to such an enormous extent at that, comments on the government more so than what is presented through Ai Weiwei’s artworks. It places emphasis on the strong opposition of anti-government activity to the Chinese government in order to maintain a steady and unchanging system by sheltering the nation on what is occurring in their surrounding environment, leading them to become ignorant. A lesser extent is represented through Andres Serrano’s Piss Christ4, causing uproar where attainment of religious censorship has...

Bibliography: 1. Clary, Greg. “Chinese dissident Ai Weiwei’s art becomes his messenger”. CNN. CNN, 25 Oct. 2012. Web. 11 Sep. 2014. http://edition.cnn.com/2012/10/13/us/weiwei-exhibit-washington/
2. Cumming, Naomi. “Playing with Transgressive Light: Serrano’s ‘Piss Christ’.” Literature & Aesthetics 8 (2011). Print.
3. Galsworthy, John. Censorship and Art. Kessinger Publishing, 2004. Print.
4. Jones, Jonathon. “Andres Serrano’s Piss Christ is the original shock art.” The Guardian. The Guardian, 19 April 2011. Web. 12 Sep 2013. http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2011/apr/18/andres-serrano-piss-christ-shock
5. Obrist, Hans Ulrich. Ai Weiwei Speaks: with Hans Ulrich Obrist. Penguin UK, 2011. Print.
6. Okafor, Udoka. “Exclusive interview with Andres Serrano, Photographer of ‘Piss Christ’.” Huffpost Arts & Culture. Huffpost Arts & Culture, 4 June 2014. Web. 15 Sep. 2014. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/udoka-okafor/exclusive-interview-with-_18_b_5442141.html
7. Serrano, Andres. Piss Christ. 1987. Photograph. National Gallery of Victoria.
8. Weiwei, Ai. Ai Weiwei’s Blog: Writings. Interviews, and Digital Rants, 2006-2009. MIT Press, 2011. Print.
9. Weiwei, Ai. Ai Weiwei: to live your life in fear is worse than losing your freedom. The Guardian. 21 June 2012. The Guardian. 14 Sep. 2014. Print.
10. Weiwei, Ai. Straight. 2014. Installation. Brooklyn Museum.
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