When did you last say fuck? I said it loudly yesterday; read on you’ll appreciate the irony. A few posts back, I said that I was controversial - well now I’ve actually been banned. At first it seemed sad, then I thought it was funny. After a while though, I became angry. I’ve been censored.
An open call for submissions went out, asking artists to depict their home town. I found some graffiti on a
wall (see above) and defied anyone to say it wasn’t the very epitome of Glasgow cheek, bolshy confrontationalism and also - humour. Yes, it certainly contains liberal use of the word fuck, but so does daily life in Glasgow . The graffiti has been visible in public for at least two years. Glasgow
I submitted the carefully sewn mini-sampler to the competition (there’s a £500 prize/commission.) I was thanked via twitter so things were looking good. A few weeks later, I was interviewed for the accompanying book and website, and my profile featuring the piece was put up online. The exhibition opened, but I couldn’t attend.
Good job really. I contacted the organisers (all artists themselves by the way) and asked for a picture of my work in the show. They emailed back a few days later, and said that – mindful of their audience – they couldn’t include my work in the exhibition, despite having said there were no restrictions. I think they were feeling doubly awkward as (only when the programme was announced) did I reveal that this was going to feature in an article I was writing, and would have been the happy ending to the quest I mentioned here for getting my work shown. Oops.
There were many ways around this for the organisers. First of all, make sure that any limits on what is permissible is shown clearly, as well as flagging upfront in the terms and conditions. Or they could stage the exhibition with the words: ‘Adult Content’ (we’ve all seen that). The show is being held in a town hall where the word fuck has been heard regularly, possibly for centuries.
I honestly thought that battle had been fought an won. I rue the day that people began to swear all the time simply because those carefully valued transgressive words lose their power if overused and now we need new ones, as fuck seems tame. But saying fuck out loud is one of life’s greatest joys, and most of us do it.
This blog is about my being an innocent artist, and I innocently thought that art involved freedom of expression. But artists censoring, or allowing others to censor their fellow artists for something so trivial – is so wrong, misguided and reactionary as to be surreal. Those silly people took the gloss of what could have been some excellent news.
Having said that, trying to be positive, I have been banned from a gallery and have now arrived. I learned to describe myself as an artist. Perhaps now I have earned the desirable soubriquet ‘controversial’ whenever (if ever) my work and name is mentioned. Fuck yeah!