Artist: Gyorgy Ligeti|
Confronting Bodies: The Composers' Union, a committee set by the communist regieme to review music.
Date of Action: Late 1940's and Early 1950's
Specific Location: Hungary
Description of Artwork: Ligeti's music had been influenced by the works of modern composers such as Strauss and Bartok. When these were censored he turned instead to the uncensored music of the Renaissance and Middle Ages. Most of his early pieces were for chorus or experimental.
For the next several years, Legeti decided his serious works must be written in secret and were locked in his drawers. He left Hungary for the West in 1956 after the Hungarian revolt had been put down. He kept his works with him, hiding them as he crossed the boarder into Austria.
Artist: Li Jiantong|
Confronting Bodies: Yan Hongyan (A leading party official), Kang Sheng (director of the Central Committee's Ideological Group), and Mao Zedong.
Date of Action: 1962
Specific Location: China
Description of Artwork: The novel is a biography of the revolutionary Liu Zhidan, who had been a popular leader of communist guerrillas in the 1930's.
Kang Sheng spoke in public about the novel and described it as "anti-party." He said it would spread negative ideologies and denounced it for portraying some of the party's enemies in a positive light. These accusations came to Mao Zedong's attention and led him to order an investigation surrounding Li Jiantong and her accomplices.
Artist: Li Zhi|
Confronting Bodies: Censorship official Zhang Wenda
Date of Action: 1602
Specific Location: China
Description of Artwork: Li Zhi is a Chinese philosopher who rejected conventional Confucian teachings. Instead, he blended conventional Confucianism with Buddhism to develop his own ethical philosophy. This idea was that there is no absolute truth to be found in the standards of Confucianism except through careful introspection. He published books with knowledge that they would be regarded as dangerous (Two of them are named "A Book to be Burned" and "A Book to be Hidden Away.")
Artist: Hanoch Levin|
Confronting Bodies: The Israeli Theater and Film Censorship Board, the National Religious Party (Hetzofeh branch), and ultra-Orthadox Jews.
Date of Action: 1982
Specific Location: Israel
Description of Artwork: "The Patriot" was called into question over it' story involving an Israeli who wants to emigrate to America. The American consul forces him to do things such as spit on his own mother and torture and Arab boy and murder him to prove his loyalty to Israel. One scene that found particular resistance involved him torturing the Arab boy using Sabbath candles. The play harshly satirizes and calls into question Orthodox rituals.
After this, the censorship board gave the play another chance, provided it would cut the scene with the Shabbat candles, in addition to a few others.
Artist: Around 80 children who have grown up with parents addicted to drugs or alcohol.|
Confronting Bodies: Glasgow city council
Date of Action: July, 2007
Specific Location: Glasgow, Scotland
Description of Artwork: The exhibit features artwork by children who have grown up in families that were torn apart by drug abuse. The artwork is not toned down and some of the issues addressed in it is not comfortable material.
Artist: Mikhail Lermontov|
Confronting Bodies: Tsar Nicholas I and Russian beurocrats.
Date of Action: 1837
Specific Location: Russia
Description of Artwork: "Death of a Poet" was written in response to the death of Aleksandr Pushkin (A famous poet and author) in a duel. Most of it was developed while Pushkin was merely wounded and this portion merely praises him and insults his opponent. However when Pushkin died three days after the duel from wounds he sustained, Lermontov added a new section in a fit of rage. This passage denounces the aristocrats around the throne (Who apparently supported Pushkin's opponent) as the executioners of freedom and genius.
Artist: Lars Vilks|
Confronting Bodies: Exhibition organizers
Date of Action: July 2007
Specific Location: Karlstad, Sweeden
Description of Artwork: The pieces in question are three sketchy drawings depicting Mohammed as a dog. Another drawing by Vilks has Mohammed and Hans Christian Andersen are visiting the Carlsberg brewery in Copenhagen.
The Orebro (Sweeden) newspaper Nerikes Allehanda publishes the drawing as part of an Aug 19, 2007 editorial criticizing several Sweedish art galleries for refusing to display a series of prophet drawings by Vilks. In response Muslims stage a demonstration and demand the editor apologize and never publish a similar image. The editor refuses to do that.
Artist: Reiner Kunze|
Confronting Bodies: German Democratic Republic (GDR) authorities
Date of Action: Throughout the 1960's and 70's
Specific Location: East Germany
Description of Artwork: Kunze wrote poetry and essays about life on the East of the Iron curtain. They often directly addressed politics and censorship issues (Such as sending mail).
In addition, the GDR sent agents to drive Kunze to insanity. They put personal pressures on his family and friends, invaded his privacy, started whispering campaigns against him, and made official threats.
Artist: Milan Kundera|
Confronting Bodies: Czechoslovak authorities
Date of Action: 1968
Specific Location: Czechoslovakia
Description of Artwork: "The Joke" is the tale of a young communist party official who sends a postcard to his girlfriend. On it he writes the joke, "Optimism is the opium of the people! The healthy atmosphere stinks! Long live Trotski!" For this he is found as being an enemy of the state, expelled from his university, and sentenced to work in the coal mines.
Artist: Stanley Kubrick|
Confronting Bodies: Local police authorities and the concerned public
Date of Action: 1974
Specific Location: Britain
Description of Artwork: The film, based on a book of the same name, takes place in a future England and follows a teenaged gang leader who enjoys rape and ultraviolence. He volunteers for a rehabilitation program which removes his desire for violence, but leaves him suicidal.
In response to the uproar it was causing in Britain, Kubrick had the film withdrawn from the country, even though it had already been running for 61 weeks there.
Artist: Stanley Kubrick (Director), Vladimir Nabokov (Writer of the novel)|
Confronting Bodies: Catholic Legion of Decency
Date of Action: 1961
Specific Location: United States
Description of Artwork: The novel, "Lolita," which was published in 1955 and quickly became a classic, follows the seduction and sexual relationship of a middle-aged man with his twelve-year-old stepdaughter. It has been both praised as a masterpiece and denounced as pornography.
Working closely with Nabokov, the film was watered down considerably. Lolita's age was raised to make her a teenager, no provocative clothing was worn, any scene remotely sexual was watered down to being merely implied and further obscured by comedy. Even though the PCA further required dialogue muted and scenes cut short, it eventually got their seal.
However, even after being cut, the Catholic Legion of Decency still condemned the film for "offering unrelieved sexual depravity."
Critics were divided saying the film adaptation had lost the novel's shock value and had lost its purpose in the editing.
Artist: Marta Kubisova|
Confronting Bodies: Director of the State Concert Agency, Dr Hrabal
Date of Action: 1970
Specific Location: Czechoslovakia
Description of Artwork: Kubisova had won prizes for her song "Harmonika," which was a tribute to Russian soldiers who died during World War 2. However, after the Warsaw Pact invasion of 1968, she refused to sing it anymore and instead preformed "Modlitba," which was meant to evoke national spirit.
The secret police used the photographs as an excuse to cancel all Kubisova's contracts for performing or recording.
Artist: Bonnie Sherr Klein|
Confronting Bodies: Ontario Film Censorship Board
Date of Action: 1981
Specific Location: Ontario, Canada
Description of Artwork: "Not a Love Story: A Film About Pornography" is a documentary focusing on the pornography industry as an opposing force to feminism. It criticizes the industry's use of violent images to dehumanize women and promote violence against them.
Artist: Kolosa John Kargbo|
Confronting Bodies: Sierra Leone party officials, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting
Date of Action: 1979
Specific Location: Freetown, Sierra Leone
Description of Artwork: "Land of Distress" is a play that was performed by Kolosa John Kargbo and his company of 11 others in Freetown. It is about corrupt government officials and a young man who returns from Europe to expose them while introducing democracy (Sierra Leone had recently become a one party state and the government had resisted a coup d'etat.)
Kargbo and company found it difficult to cope. After another uncompromising play, Karbgo was transfered to the city of Bo by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. The decision was based on the idea that he could cause less damage there. Another of the comapnies plays was critical of female circumcision, but this was censored due to complaints from the secret society that practiced it. After continued harassment, the group disbanded.
Artist: James Joyce|
Confronting Bodies: US Post Office, New York Society for the Suppression of Vice the British Director of Public Prosecutions, and British customs officials.
Date of Action: 1920 - 1933
Specific Location: Great Britain and the United States
Description of Artwork: "Ulysses" is an 18 chapter book in which each chapter represents about one hour in the course of a day and reflects a chapter in the Odyssey. The story follows an ordinary day in Dublin and touches upon obscene points such as urination and masturbation. Due to each part being written in a different style and having different themes associated with it, the story seems very disjointed. This is why court cases against the book were limited to certain chapters, making it difficult for lawyers to defend the obscenities by linking them to the story as a whole.
The trial scared off any potential publishers and printers who saw it as filth, but eventually Joyce had the book released in France. However, Joyce still found resistance to it in English speaking countries. The US Post Office held any copies of the book it found and had them burned. British customs officials also confiscated it and had it sent to the Home Office for examining. In 1922, the Director of Public Prosecution deemed it indecent and ordered that customs not let the book get through to Britain. He made this decision having read only 40 pages.