Open-minded Greek artists and bloggers organised a Public Protest Exhibition, after the Police banned an «anti-national» video in the «Art Athina» exhibition, arresting immediately the… Exhibition’s art director (who spent a night in prison) a few days ago.
I don’t usually put such news stories in my blog, but this posting is written as an act of solidarity with other Greek artists, bloggers and open-minded people, currently protesting about this event.
On Monday, 11 June 2007, the curator of the exhibition Mr. Michael Argyrou faces trial for indecency and «offensiveness against national symbols». The prosecution is mainly based on an antiquated law of former (pre-World War II) dictator Metaxas.
I have not personally seen the banned art-video , but obviously this is an issue of Civil Liberties and of democratic principles. If Mr. Argyrou is condemned, the situation in Greece is likely to be on the verge of a serious deterioration, a regress from democratic principles to conservative fundamentalism.
The banned exhibit was a video-clip of female… masturbation, while the Greek National Anthem was being played in the background. The artist, Ms. Eva Stefani (daughter of famous Greek professor of psychiatry Stefanis) wanted to criticise certain aspects of nationalism, the invasion of the state in private lives, etc.
The video was banned after a member of the ultra-right-wing «LAOS» party denounced it as an offense against national sentiment; not because of the video’s sexual content. However, the art exhibition’s director was prosecuted on the grounds of being offensive in both ways: against national sentiments, as well as against public decency. As regards the latter, it’s ironical -or hilarious- today, to censor anything in Greece, on grounds of indecency; in a country where almost every news-kiosk (outdoor news agent) sells hard-core porn (with closeup-photos in public); where another Artistic Event was a public Porn Film Festival; a country where the most… famous Greek porn Star (Gousgounis) received official Awards (from the non-pornographic film-making community in Greece), and so on…
Censorship itself has been outlawed in Greece, since long ago. There is a clause against censorship of any type, in the Greek Constitution (after the military junta’s collapse 30 years ago). However, certain laws still exist against «public indecency» as well as against «offensiveness towards national symbols». The «public decency» laws are never invoked, except very rarely, e.g. (as in this case) to justify the prosecution of the second type of offensiveness, against national sentiments or national symbols (e.g. the flag).
I write about this in English for two reasons:
- As a warning (towards Greek ultra-conservatives) that their actions are severely defamatory for Greece as a whole; for the situation of deteriorating civil liberties in Greece, etc.
- As a form of solidarity towards the prosecuted individuals (and others). This issue isn’t merely «local gossip» which «stays inside the family»; it is instantly becoming well known world-wide.
I also had unpleasant confrontations with the ultra-conservative attitude of some Greek people, on some occasions. I also faced (many years ago) extremely conservative criticisms about some of my own Art, e.g. some erotic drawings (with samples in an on-line Art Exhibition here; but nobody even remotely suggested… banning them.
Finally, here are some links to other Greek bloggers protesting about these events (likely to be updated continuously):
(copy-and-paste this one; it’s removed as a link to reduce noise in that particularly crowded blog)