As a follow-on to the posts earlier this week about liberals running away from difficult issues regarding freedom of speech here, and here, it’s interesting to see the above. London’s Mall Museum is hosting an exhibition, it’s the seventh on a theme of a “Passion for Freedom”. We might note that its blurb specifically acknowledges that it is nine months on from the events at Charlie Hebdo and the deaths of other journalists and bloggers who make a stand for free speech. Brave words. Are they matched by brave deeds?
There is an ENORMOUS eight foot female vagina on show – oooh very edgy that. Wow, we haven’t seen anything like that before. Seriously kids, metal vaginas are sooooo Anish Kapoor. Took the artist Jamie McCartney five years to make this though,- one great big out of date fanny. Aye well.
They however have not pulled this fanny for the fear of giving offense, oh no, great big metal fannies are fine, very French indeed, (perhaps they will gild it) instead they pull a set of diorama featuring Sylvanian family figurines in various tableau where they are being threatened by other woodland figures dressed as ISIS figures, robed in black, carrying ISIS flags and guns, creeping up on them unbeknownced. This is a magnificent piece of work by the artist Mimsy. It is witty, fun and thought provoking in equal order. She shows the Sylvanian family figures sunbathing on a beach, or seen sitting quietly in a classroom, having a bucolic picnic on a hillside, or otherwise envisioned in pedestrian and very everyday western situations. It emphasises the threat to our lifestyles by fascist Islam. The use of these everyday situations reinforce the impact. It’s very effective.
The Police have already taken a view, stepped in and stated that because this art is “potentially inflammatory material” they will only “protect” the event if more money, all £36,000 is paid (to them) for protection. IE, the state would like you to drop this element of the exhibition. As of Now.
“Potentially inflammatory material”, well of course it’s bloody inflammatory! Art is meant to be inflammatory, and to shake things up. It’s also called freedom of speech. “Far away, in the land of Sylvania, rabbits, foxes, hedgehogs, mice and all woodland animals have overcome their differences to live in harmonious peace and tranquillity. Until Now,” reads the catalogue note to this now non existent display. “MICE-IS, a fundamentalist Islamic terror group, are threatening to dominate Sylvania, and annihilate every species that does not submit to their hard-line version of sharia law.”
As part of the satire rests on the Sylvanian Families living out the western idyll unaware and unthinking of the threat approaching them, it is particularly apposite that the state should get it pulled. Lest anyone think too hard about the whole situation, and of how fragile our own belief in “freedom” is, when met by an actual real threat.
It’s not even as if this is even a fresh exhibition, London College of Art showed the same tableau in May. Then it was called MISIS (Mice IS) geddit?
The whole debacle raises the question of what exactly the artistic response to terrorism might be? And we might ask what has changed since May (apart from an election of course) that means artistic responses to terrorism and Islamofascism are been quietly pushed off of the public stage?
“Of course” the organisers say “we believe in freedom of speech but…” And with that “but” it all evaporates. Supine, cowering, despicable, -I mean they could have had a whip round to meet the blackmail from our cowardly, worthless plod and pay them off, but then they just didn’t did they?
Copyright David Macadam 2015