Furthermore, CIMAM announced that „important questions regarding freedom of expression, censorship and institutional responsibility“ would be discussed at the committee’s next meeting this November (November 7–9, 2015) in Tokyo (1). Keynote speaker of the respective session is Patricia Falguières, who has had already the opportunity to articulate her thoughts about the “MACBA case” at the online platform of L’Internationale (2) – a five years European project involving among others the MACBA, the Vanabbe Museum, and SALT.
In terms of censorship Falguières clarifies at the very beginning of her text that in her perception “censorship is … a buzz-word that blinds both those who use it and those towards which it is destined.” To me this position completely disqualifies her from any keynote lecture that should introduce issues of censorship in a differentiated way. It’s a bit like someone who should give a keynote lecture about sexual abuse, and who is convinced that in the most of the cases people who say that they had been sexually abused do not know what they are talking about – and / or just want to blame someone else. The awkward problem of censorship in democratic Western societies is not only that it silences a certain articulation, but that the one who got censored mostly also gets deprived to call this publicly an act of censorship.
Not enough: Falguières calls Ines Doujak’s sculpture “Not Dressed for Conquering / Haute Couture 04 Transport” – the very sculpture that Marí wanted to remove from the exhibition the day before the press conference – a Trojan Horse, an instrument aiming to destroy “the fragile strongholds called museums.” She suggests that the artist and curators of the exhibition “The Beast and the Sovereign” would have had the mean plan to destroy the MACBA using a sculpture that they clandestinely smuggled into the museum … camouflaged as what? The MACBA – like many other museums – not only is a “bastion”, as Falguières again and again writes, but rather a maximum security prison. You simply cannot bring something into this museum, which would not have been beforehand squeamishly scanned from tip to toe.
And why should we have done this: bringing a Trojan Horse to MACBA? Falguières speculates, that we all are “political, commercial and media backers” that cannot stand “permanence” but instead “need scandals”. In place of “medium and long-term in-depth work”, we would go for “one-shot scandalous exhibitions” and “short term media effects”. She obviously has no clue about Doujak’s more than 30 years long research on textile production. She obviously has also no clue about Hans and my institutional and curatorial work. Fine –, but this fact should have irritated her at least: how could she not know anything about us when we are such media bitches? But what really strikes me: she should at least know Valentín Roma’s and Paul B. Preciado’s work, especially in the last two years at MACBA, before writing such an article. Their work was definitely not about short-term effects, but about rethinking this museum – on the basis of a profound knowledge and a long-term perspective – with, against and beyond its intellectual founder. And this “with, against and beyond” in my point of view is the very, and the challenging sense of continuity at the place of a museum.
But let me speculate what Falguières really means with “scandalism” and “Trojan Horses”, with “bastions”,” strongholds”, and “hunting-grounds”. Can it be, that it’s more about those dissident bodies, critical thoughts and institutional detournements, which were at the very heart of Roma’s and Preciado’s work at MACBA? Where they too much calling into question the neoliberal and heteronormative logics of power that – as everybody knows – are also at work at an art museum, and for sure at the MACBA (just take a closer look at the configuration of its consortium)? Were they at least a bit too queer, too critical for that “fragile bastion” called museum? Not to forget: Roma and Preciado were not smuggled into MACBA hidden in a fancy cake, but invited and engaged by Bartomeu Marí: like were Friedrich Meschede, Chuz Martínez, Carles Guerra, and Ines Doujak.
But again: What is the problem with Ines Doujak’s sculpture at all? What makes it so unbearable and menacing for a Spanish contemporary art museum?
Falguières admits, that she herself is fine and fully “Charlie” when it comes to those two-dimensional “most outrageously daring cartoons … of … presidents, … the pope, bishops etc.” to be found in magazines and being produced, as she believes, “to the delight of a small readership and the indifference of most of the population.“ Should that be the aim of caricature? Can our society stand caricatures – those impudent jokes about authorities and sovereigns – only as long as the most of the people do not notice them – as long as the people are ignorant of them like the beast should be ignorant of the law?
Howsoever, the problem of Doujak’s sculpture, according to Falguières, is that it is three-dimensional! A cartoon – under certain circumstances – might be fine. “But”, as we get instructed, “a drawing is not a naturalist sculpture, a magazine is not a museum, a press drawing is not a three-dimensional effigy exhibited in a public building.” Is Doujak’s sculpture naturalist?
Anyway, Falguières is convinced: when it comes to the three dimensional form and the museum, fun definitely ends. And that is why, as she assumes, most of the directors of European museums – who “prudently” kept silent about the MACBA-affair – would agree not to show Doujak’s sculpture in a Spanish art museum. Honestly: I hardly can imagine that most of the directors of European art museums are afraid of three-dimensional works. So what is it that kept them – like many other representatives of the art world – so silent once the big-bang of Barcelona was over? Agreement? Lack of interest? Gloating? Fear?
What is missing in the art world at large – a world whose main currency, as we all know, is “being friend with”; and whose basic law says “you’ll be with us, or you’re out” – is a profound culture of conflict and disobedience. If we really want to protect the museums from being absorbed by neoliberal interests, we have to start here: to work collectively and in the long run on a serious culture of conflict; and to rethink the open and hidden hierarchies, forms of intimidation and silencing, power plays and players, which are at work at today’s art institutions in the name of “professionalism” and “friendship.” It’s about redefining what we mean by friendship, professionalism, solidarity, critique, emancipation, the freedom of expression, the potentiality of art and of the institution. The project “The Beast