ASAP: Step into The File Room - East Valley Tribune: News

ASAP: Step into The File Room

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Posted: Friday, October 28, 2005 10:17 am | Updated: 9:12 am, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

The United States may be a free country, but censorship can still be found here and there.

Remember when radio stations wouldn't play Dixie Chicks songs after singer Natalie Maines criticized President Bush? Was there a T-shirt you weren't allowed to wear in high school? Technically, bleeping out curse words on TV is censorship too.

Want more examples? Step into The File Room.

The File Room is a searchable online archive cataloging instances of censorship in the arts -- in America and around the world. Anyone who feels they were censored, or knows about artwork being censored, can submit an entry on the site:" class="content-link" target= "450">.

The site, maintained by the nonprofit National Coalition Against Censorship, grew out of a new media art installation by Antoni Muntadas in Chicago in 1994. It was originally produced by the Randolph Street Gallery and has traveled around the world.

"It was an opportune coincidence. Muntadas started doing this installation as the Internet developed," said Svetlana Mintsceva, who direct the arts program at the NCAC. "So he made it like a file room but also integrated this new tool, the Web."

Mintsceva said the File Room has been linked to the NCAC since 2001. More than 300 instances of censorship have been added since the original installation.

"It is by no means comprehensive and because it is open to people world wide, we don't guarantee that all the entries are true," she said. "We use the honor system. People have their own ideas on what constitutes censorship. They define it in a way that suits them, and we don't want to do any judging."


asap rummaged through The File Room for good examples of censorship from the last several years. Some highlights:

2005: Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, a law firm in Washington, complained about an art exhibition featuring crocheted nude figures in the lobby of its offices. The artist crocheted fig leaves to cover up the breasts and genitalia.

2003: A Cheyenne, Wyo., record store pulled music by Insane Clown Posse after parents of a teen who committed suicide said the group "did not do him any good."

2002: The principal at Moravia High School in Moravia, N.Y., would not exhibit student art depicting nudes because "young children might not want to see the drawings." They were eventually shown with the breast and genital areas covered with black stripes.

2001: The Museum of the City of New York altered some of the works in the exhibition "AIDS: A Living Archive." According to Jane Rosett, one of the two curators of the show, "Photos were cropped to exclude images of intimacy between men, and museum officials rejected representations of condoms."

1999: New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani tried to cut funding to the Brooklyn Museum for showing a Chris Ofili painting of the Virgin Mary that used elephant dung and partial pictures cut out of pornographic magazines. The move was blocked in the courts.

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