Name: Withdrawal of “Asperges Me” by Thierry de Gortier from the International Art Exhibition in Greece

Date:  1995 - 2005

Location:  Europe



image description
Artist: Thierry de Gortier

Confronting Bodies: Yiorgos Karatzaferis, leader of LAOS (an extreme right wing party) demanded the deposition of “ASPERGES ME”, because he considered it blasphemous to Christianity. Miltiadis Evert, the former leader of the main opposition party ( New Democracy) declared that “if the work is not taken down by the organizers by Friday he will go andtake it down himself”. Father Epiphanios, the representative of the Greek Orthodox Church, sent a letter to Evangelos Venizelos, Secretary of Culture, requiring the protection of “our secret symbols”. The Board of the Cultural Olympiad and the Director, Christos Joachimides, decided to withdraw the work.

Date of Action: December 2003

Specific Location: Athens, Greece

Description of Artwork: see image

Description of Incident: The events started when some people, who felt offended by the work, asked for its deposition. Among them were Yorgos Karatzaferis (President of LAOS, an extreme right-wing party) and Miltiadis Evert (a member of parliament and former leader of the Main Opposition Party, New Democracy). One day later, under the pressure of Evangelos Venizelos (the Secretary of Culture), and a request from the board of the Cultural Olympiad, the curator agreed to bring the work down. In the public dialogue that followed this act of censorship many arguments were heard against the attempts of almost all the institutional constituents of our public life (Government, Opposition, Church) to censor the show.

It is also important to underline that the exhibition was taking place in ERGOSTASIO, which is part of the Athens School of Fine Arts, which means that not only artistic but also Academic Freedom was not respected from the curator. Furthermore, the exhibition was an International show and part of the Cultural Olympiad, which was supposed to support values such as multiculturalism, diversity, and communication between various opinions, and to promote the free exchange of creative insight.

Results of Incident: The work is withdrawn and the following announcement is posted in its place:

“The work of Thierry de Gordier ASPERGES ME was considered as an image insulting of the Cross e.g. of the symbol of Christian Religion. The intense discourse that was initiated because of that tends to overshadow the essence of the exhibition and obstruct the contact of the public with contemporary art. However, the aim of OUTLOOK is to present to the public the full range of the artistic tendencies and create a genuine interest of the public for contemporary art. Considering all the above the Board of the Cultural Olympiad and the director of the exhibition decide to withdraw this specific work and post the present announcement explaining the reasons for the withdrawal.”

The Secretary of Culture Evangelos Venizelos, a professor of Constitutional Law declares “ the freedom of art is restricted by the law and public taste”

Source: and Yannis Ziogas

Submitted By: Svetlana Mintcheva, NCAC

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