ARCO Madrid censors Art

Following on the Spanish government’s violent crackdown on citizens in Catalunya for peacefully daring to exercise their right to vote and decide their own future, Rajoy’s authoritarian minions follow up with censoring artworks that bring to light the government’s violation of civil rights. In an unprecedented move, an exhibit by Spanish artist Santiago Sierra, created for Spain’s largest art fair ARCO Madrid 2018, was removed by the gallery Helga de Alvear apparently intimidated by the fair’s organizers IFEMA in deference and fear of Spanish authorities that cannot admit to jailing political prisoners. The exhibit apparently showed photographs of various Catalan political leaders (faces pixelated) who are held indefinitely in Spanish prisons since the referendum of October 2017, some in spite of being legitimately re-elected in elections last December (called by Madrid in hopes of squashing independence). Here is a link to the article in La Vanguardia: The return to Franco-esque fascist policies in what was once an exemplary democracy in southern Europe shows the dangers of fanatical nationalism that should provide ample warning to supporters of Brexit in the UK and Trumpism in the US. The situation in Catalunya grows more ugly with time and Catalans show no signs of backing down from their desire to separate from Spain. Who can blame them with the anti-democratic behavior of Spanish leaders and courts? Madrid continues to insist the minority of citizens in the region have more authority than the majority regional government while threatening legally elected representatives with prison just for voicing the opinions of their constituents working to make Catalunya autonomous and independent. No wonder many of these politicians are fleeing the new Spanish inquisition and asking for asylum in other countries of the European Union. In light of such serious consequences a frivolous censorship of art truly pales but it is still a sorry commentary on the trajectory of oppression when it extends into the cultural realm. The artist Sierra noted, “If Spain is not a dictatorship, it certainly looks like one.” Amen and OLE. The artwork was purchased by Tatxo Benet, of Spanish telecommunications company Mediapro, who promised to exhibit the work elsewhere. For her part, the mayor of Madrid Manuela Carmena, boycotted the opening of the fair in protest for the artwork’s removal.

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