Caution: Censorship

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A Moscow court has declared an exhibition of paintings and sculptures to be "openly insulting and blasphemous." The curator and director who dared to show "Caution! Religion" have been slapped with fines, which, while preferable to the years of imprisonment in a penal colony called for by the prosecution, still sets an unhappy precedent for the future of Russian art.

Days after the show opened, six men from an Orthodox church vandalized the exhibit, a crime apparently less offensive than displaying it. None of the men were convicted.

Cathy Young discusses the whole mess here.

Pictures of the vandalized works are here.

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  1. Sixteen years ago the case would have gone exactly the opposite. Russia is one messed-up place.

  2. If people had any idea how crabbed, benighted, medieval, and anti-semitic the Orthodox churches tend to be, the Pope would start looking like a figure of moderate liberal enlightenment by comparison. But nobody notices because they keep a low profile on hot-button issues and are known mainly for their inferiority complex vis-a-vis the Catholic church. (They’re worse than Canadians bellyaching about how arrogant and dumb Americans are.)

  3. [quote]They’re worse than Canadians bellyaching about how arrogant and dumb Americans are [/quote]

    Yay! An American noticed us! And even better he trashed us! Better notify John Ralston Saul!

  4. Even in Soviet times, the Orthodox Church was spared some of the more severe restrictions on religion that faced other non-traditional denominations, like the Catholics or Jews, becoming somewhat of an established state religion. After the fall of communism , they’ve used their pull to prevent non-Orthodox sects like Evangelicals and the Hare Krishnas from setting up shop there. So it’s no surprise that they were able to pull this stunt off.

  5. This reminds me of a play in spain called Me cago en Dios. (I shit on God).

    On opening night some guys came and trashed the set and knocked out some of the actors.

    Not very surprising, of course. I didn’t feel much sympathy for the ppl involved in the play but I don’t think anyone should be legally charged w/ blasphemy, either.

  6. So I guess this means that The Leaving Trains’ immortal “Fuck You, God! (I’m Already Living In Hell)” isn’t going to get much airplay back in the USSR, errrr, Russia.

  7. Like most modern “art”, it’s difficult to tell what’s original and what’s defaced in the works.

    Good thing they only blasphemed Christianity. If Islam, the artists rather than the art would have been destroyed.

  8. I hear you can get a reduced sentence in Russia by offering to do community service. In Russia, from what I hear, “community service” amounts to mob-style hits on journalists.

    Has Russia got anything going for it except the robust exportation of vast supplies of bleach-blonde skanks as mail-order brides?

  9. zero – and what else, pray tell, do you want from Russia? ­čÖé

  10. Sexy female athletes, cheap Kalashnikovs, slightly-less-than-letal vodka…

  11. In other news, hate crimes appear to be on the upswing in St. Petersburg.

    Russia is the eternal dunce of Europe. Every political pathology ever to gain a foothold on the continent seems to have its last dying gasp in the land of borscht and Matryoshka dolls.

  12. No! Censorship in Russia?!? Surely not, no!

  13. In Russia, community service does you!

  14. When Christianity gets critiqued/mocked/ridiculed or the like, one regularly hears of the importance of the concept of Freedom of Speech and Artistic Expression.

    I agree with this entirely.

    However, when other cultures get critiqued/mocked/ridiculed, one regularly hears of the importance of trying to understand cultures to which one is not a member and how if we were more understanding, we wouldn’t be so mean-spirited toward things that were different than us.

    This also has a point…

    But I’d prefer doing one or the other and not both.

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