On Saturday, works by 25 year old Melbourne artist Paul Yore were seized by police from an exhibition at Linden Centre for Contemporary Arts following a complaint from the public. Yore was subsequently interviewed by St Kilda police but released without charge pending further investigations. His work was part of one of several group exhibitions curated by Geoff Newton celebrating the work of legendary Australian artist Mike Brown. The confiscated images were from an installation entitled ‘Everything’s F*cked’ and featured images of children collaged onto sexually questionable material, including a cut out featuring Justin Bieber’s head urinating from a dildo into a sink.
Anyone familiar with Yore’s work knows that it’s campy, souped-up, often scandalous. That’s why the exhibition contained appropriate warning signs, including leaflets stating that the exhibition was unsuitable for children. Sure, it’s not for everyone, but should Yore be charged with producing and possessing child pornography? Of course not.
National Association for the Visual Arts executive director Tamara Winikoff observed that “This is just another case of people being overprotective of public sensibilities and not acknowledging that people are perfectly capable of making up their own minds” and LOL agrees. This type of censorship is inflamed by lazy press stories like this one printed in the Herald Sun last week that drag up the same old sensationalist ‘tax payer funded’ angle. Tired. Lazy.
‘Everything’s F*cked’ was contained within a gallery space that people could chose to enter after being appropriately forewarned. Disappointingly, the entire exhibition has been closed prematurely so there’s no opportunity for viewers to reach their own conclusions. We need to support artists to make the work they need to make. Inhibiting the rights of artists and galleries to show work that is deemed as ‘challenging’ is a very worrying symptom of an increasingly conservative cultural climate.