Police Censors Exhibition “Diorthosi” (Correction) by Artist Paola Reveniotis (Nicosia, Cyprus)
via Diana Georgiou
The transexual artist, Paola Revenioti, had a photographic exhibition on 20 November 2014, depicting the naked bodies of trans and gay individuals. Citizens complained about the content and the Cyprus state police walked in, without notifying anyone, and charged the organisation for publicly displaying obscenities: namely, penises. Note, the exhibition is supported by the municipality of Nicosia and by the national LGBT association. Further note, homosexuality has been decriminalized since 1998. Final note, Cyprus has happily agreed to embrace all articles of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. Article 10 of the convention clearly states: everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers.
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More information about the case via incyprus
Gay rights NGO Accept-Cyprus LGBT has slammed police censorship after photographs exhibited to mark International Transgender Day of Remembrance were confiscated and its chairman charged with exhibiting obscene material in a public space.
Accept said that it has already lodged a complaint with the ombudsman and would also be reporting the issue to local authorities, the European Parliament and the European Commission. The exhibition “Diorthosi” (Correction) by Greek trans activist and photographer Paola Revinioti was staged at Nicosia Municipal Market to mark Thursday’s Transgender Day.
Accept said that on Friday, police confiscated the photographs after a complaint by one individual. It noted that in order to protect the exhibited work during the daily operation of the market, the photographs had been covered. “Therefore the works were covered both when the complaint was lodged and when they were being confiscated by police,” it said.
Police confiscated all the photos, then questioned and charged Accept chairman Costas Gavrielides with exhibiting obscene work in a public space, Accept added. Police acted without informing Nicosia Municipality which had officially given permission for the exhibition nor the organisers, it said. Some of the photos were returned, but others of male nudes were confiscated to be used as evidence in a trial. “Accept condemns what happened as clear-cut censorship and believes it has been targeted for its work,” it said. “The confiscation goes against any artistic expression that does not fall within the antiquated ideas of the police and the state as to what is art,” it added.
The photographer was not in Cyprus when the police raided her exhibition. She told Lemesos newspaper that she had been shocked by developments adding that there was nothing obscene in the photographs, many of which were take years ago for which no issue had arisen in the past in Greece. “It is terrible for an artist to have his work taken down and branded obscene,” she said.
Open protest letter
NO TO CENSORSHIP IN ART
As an artistic community we condemn the Cyprus Republic Police’s breaching and seizing of photographs from Paola Reveniotis’ exhibition “Correction” which took place at the Municipal Market in Nicosia on 21/11/14.
As artists and concerned citizens we believe that this downright act of censorship upsets, distresses and offends artistic creativity and the right to freedom of speech and expression.
We consider unacceptable such repressive acts, where art is subject to the judgment and censorship of any form of power.
We also consider it an alarming prospect that freedom of speech may be restricted, instead of protected, by any State institution. We confirm here that such practices belong to totalitarian regimes and not to democratic and multicultural societies.
The role of art is to be critical and to raise awareness on key social issues; to be a tool for change and to promote dialogue on issues that remain sidelined or suppressed.
We welcome Nicosia Municipality’s support for the visual and activist intervention of Paola Reveniotis, organized by ‘Accept’ LGBT Cyprus, as part of the International Day of Transgender Remembrance.
We would like to believe that the confiscation of the photographer’s work will remain an isolated incident, unrelated to her gender identity, sexuality and activism and similarly unrelated to Accept’s action.
We hope that this incident will provide the opportunity for open discussions and expressing positions responsibly on the following issues:
– What is considered obscene and what immoral? How does that insult and threaten society? Therefore, what representations of the nude human body are deemed acceptable?
-When and how is public space assaulted? How can we support the rights of trans persons (and also of other social groups) to claim public space and speech?
-What is the role of Art? Can what is constrained be considered Art?
-What are the limits and criteria of censorship, and at the expense of whom is censorship practiced? Who is eligible to censor and under what capacity?
Finally, we demand that any prosecution against the organizers of the exhibition is suspended and that the artist’s work is immediately returned.
Artists and citizens of Cyprus.
Sign the petition here.