Alert! Censorship is contagious

Què he de fer, doncs? Què han de fer els artistes, escriptors i dramaturgs catalans? Expressar les coses tal com les veuen, les senten i les poden argumentar, escriure o visualitzar?

Eugenio Merino. Always Franco, 2012. Cortesia Museu de l’Art Prohibit.
Alert! Censorship is contagious

I was going to say that the cultural world lives in turmoil; fearful prone to please everyone, in order to profit from it; careful not to hurt the sensibilities of those who handle the – very few – public money allocated to the poetic, visual, scenic, literary and industrial arts.

He was also going to say that the world of culture behaves in exactly the opposite way to what is presupposed: it is egotistical, selfish and lives permanently at war with fellow poets, artists, theatre-makers, writers and filmmakers. It's a cold war, full of cordial poses, kisses and hugs, but everything is imposed, fake: that subsidy that another receives, you don't receive it; that exhibition that a young man who has just arrived on the battlefield has managed to program, you, who have gone to a hundred inaugurations to make yourself seen, to show your kindest face, have missed it.

I was going to say that no one questions the cultural system. And when someone does, they are applauded, but always in private, lest those in command see a thumbs up in a post on a social network in which their command has been called into question. I was going to say that, from this acceptance of a cultural framework politically presided over by those less prepared in cultural matters - in cultural matters -, consequences flow from it: the main one is the perpetuation of the wildly neoliberal conception of Catalan culture.

I was going to say...

I was going to say these things and more. But now I realize I don't have to. I don't have to say them because there could be someone who, wherever you go, would have thought of me to write a text or, that would be the summation, to be the curator of an exhibition. And, if I tell them, they might look for someone more docile or submissive than me to carry out these tasks. Perhaps the editors of this same magazine, who have so kindly welcomed me for many years, if I say these things they might feel betrayed for having made excessive use of my freedom of expression, which they have never violated.

So what should I do? What should Catalan artists, writers and playwrights do? Express things as they see, feel and can argue, write or visualize? Or, on the contrary, do you need to curl up, encapsulate yourself in your own cautions or in the fears that accumulate? We have to decide if we are herds or restless consciences, my friend Arnau Puig told me one day. That's the thing, I think.

Should artistic expression have limits?

I don't mean that the decision is simple. Because the stratagems of censorship are multiple: before the express ban, the censors have other less invasive, almost invisible tactics, by means of which they obtain the same result. And this sibylline invasion of power in creative freedom produces a reservoir of doubt in the creator himself. That's when the artist must ask himself: "If I already know that they won't let me do something, why invest time and effort in doing it?" Perhaps it is better that I lower the original ambitions of the project, that I adapt my purposes to the limits that are imposed on me, explicitly or with evasions and circumlocutions.” And, in this way, the winner is not the artist, but the power, which no longer needs to do anything to impose its force.

Censorship is a disease that affects us all: there are some censors, but immediately afterwards there is a heart that endures or tolerates it or, in any case, does not denounce it. And censorship spreads easily. It's like an undetectable epidemic. When this happens in the field of culture, where there should be no dogmas of faith or ideological persecution, the result is miserable, cataclysmic, of supreme abjection.

Do I propose a direct confrontation with the censors? Since everyone who has power (presidents of boards of trustees, directors of museums or art centers, directors of the media, managers of a publishing house...) has prohibitive temptations, the confrontation does not have to be direct. Juan Goytisolo proposes an oblique tactic: "It is not a question of putting the pen to the service of a cause, however just it may be, but of introducing the contestatory ferment into the field of writing. Fitting the novelistic plot into the mold of repeated forms to the point of satiety condemns the work to irrelevance." In other words, if we transfer the formulation to the world of art, fitting your work into the usual and the systemic leads you to irrelevance as an artist. The opposite path does not necessarily mean resorting to the pamphlet (which, on the other hand, I feel more and more fond of) but to introduce "the contestatory ferment" into the work, into thought, into criticism. In order not to submit to the empire of censorship.

I was going to say that, in any case, the solution to censorship is not to make a museum of censored works... Shut up, Minguet, censor yourself a little, boy.

Escenari_prodigios_Bonart_180x180 pxthumbnail_arranzbravo. general 04-2014

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