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Support Manuel Borja-Villel, Director of Museo Reina Sofía, and the team at the Museo Reina Sofía in their opposition to the attempted censorship of a work of art in the exhibition “Really Useful Knowledge” (Madrid, Spain)

November 1, 2014

via CIMAM International Committee of ICOM for Museums and Collections of Modern Art

CIMAM wishes to express its support to Manuel Borja-Villel, Director of Museo Reina Sofía (MNCARS), Madrid, and the entire team at the Museum in their negative to censure a work of art* presented within the exhibition Really Useful Knowledge [curated by WHW (What, How and for Whom)]. Religious groups are pressuring the Spanish Ministry of Culture to censure this exhibition. CIMAM is against such pressures on any cultural institution dedicated to promoting the principles of artistic expression and freedom.

The exhibition endeavors to position the notion of critical pedagogy as a crucial element in collective struggles, and explore the tension between individual and social emancipation through education with examples that are both historical and current, and their relation to organizational forms capable of leading unified resistance to the reproduction of capital.

The programming of art institutions is done for the construction of a civil and public space of debate and of a critical discussion around the experiences we share. Art institutions are for freedom, respect and debate; never for repression, violence nor censorship.

CIMAM wishes to encourage debate and civilized exchange of ideas and wants to express the deep concern for the turn of the actions against the freedom of artistic expressions and of the values of dialogue defended by the Museo Reina Sofía (MNCARS).

CIMAM has initiated a petition addressed to the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports, to support Manuel Borja-Villel, director of Museo Reina Sofía (MNCARS) and the entire team involved in this exhibition.

Please SIGN and share!

(*) Mujeres Públicas’s “Cajita de fósforos” (2005) consists of two matchboxes depicting, on one side, a burning church building, and on the other, the slogan: “The only church that illuminates is one which burns. Contribute!” (La única iglesia que ilumina es la que arde. ¡Contribuya!). The presentation of the piece by Mujeres Públicas, an Argentine feminist collective, was equated by one religious organization to a use of public funds by the state museum to “insult Christians.”

Source: Hyperallergic.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. November 1, 2014 1:18 PM

    Oh the irony! A petition defending an exhibition devoted to the free open and non-hierarchical sharing of knowledge, and the petition comes without a word of explanation or justification. So much for “open and public debate.”

    Reminds me those marches against Injustice and Discrimination that are by invitation only; pretty much what I’ve come to expect from ICOM…

    • November 10, 2014 4:58 AM

      Thanks for the clarification. I’ve signed the petition with the following comment:

      As Gauguin once wrote, “You have the right to be stupid, but you have a duty not to be.” On the other hand that still gives Mr. Borja-Villel the right to be stupid, even if I wish he and his institutional supporters had done a better curator’s job of explaining and justifying the inclusion of this piece. I can think of a few myself but they’re sadly missing from this discussion, which seems to be focused on defending the Global Museum Establishment, not the art. I’m signing the petition out of principle, but frankly, I’m tired of being asked to help you guys clean up your own mess.


  1. Support Manuel Borja-Villel, Director of Museo Reina Sofía, and the team at the Museo Reina Sofía in their opposition to the attempted censorship of a work of art in the exhibition “Really Useful Knowledge” (Madrid, Spain) | ArtLeaks | Ned Hamson Se


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