Die Lage der Meinungsfreiheit in Europa - Podiumsdiskussion

Die Lage der Meinungsfreiheit in Europa - Podiumsdiskussion

Oktober 18, 2019

Ladies and gentlemen,

My name is Rudolf Leeb, I would like to welcome you to my gallery. The gallery is deeply committed to promoting young artists and helping them succeed in the art market. The gallery also genuinely defends women’s cause and aims at giving voice to young female artists, which is exactly what explains why most of our artists are women.

Why did we do this exhibition?

Art has more to offer than mere aesthetic pleasure. Art is the product of our time, it always is – even implicitly – the reflection of a given socio-economic and political context. Art invites us to reflect on current issues, to stimulate critical thinking and it prompts us to take action for the better of the society in which we live in.

This idea is very well illustrated by Silke Maier-Gamauf and Romana Hagyo’s installation, which was originally shown in the Notgalerie in Seestadt-Aspern in Vienna. This artwork has been demolished by a leading FPÖ official and therefore was strongly censored. In the exhibition we document the destruction of the installation and at the same time position ourselves against such censorship.

Santiago Sierras work, entitled “Political prisoners in contemporary Spain”, was censored in 2018 before the opening of the famous ARCO art fair in Madrid. And it was in fact the starting point of this exhibition on/entitled "Censorship and Freedom of Expression”. The exhibition house c / o Berlin has shown this work in spring 2019, and from there, it was brought to Vienna. This artwork has made possible a collaborate with the Catalan Cultural Association in Vienna for the elaboration of the show.

Ayre Wachsmuth, who is an Austrian artist and whose works are exhibited opposite the front door, focuses on documenting the different situations and ordeals that refugees are confronted to at the Bosnia-Croatia border.

There is hardly a work of art that better characterizes the current world political situation than Mirkan Deniz’s installation. The artist is a stateless Kurd who lives in Switzerland. This work was first shown last Spring in Basel and was awarded a prize. She has put together this work for our exhibition again. The installation illustrates a Kurdish house that has been destroyed by a Turkish tank. On the back wall, one can see the GPS coordinates where the house was located in Kurdistan.

We live in Austria, and despite the fact that message control, fake news and anticipatory obedience – that is to say voluntary self-censorship – are very much the object of current issues, freedom of speech has an integral part in the country’s identity. That is not the case, of course, for our neighbor countries like Hungary and Poland.

Under these conditions, today the participants of our panel discussion can freely and openly discuss the mentioned issues. We look forward to your insights.

Thank you for your attention.

On the podium

Yvonne Gimpel, Head of IG Kultur Österreich

Mamo Mirzani, Speaker HDP Österreich

Gabriel Lansky, Boardmember Reporter without borders

Salvador Espada, Speaker of Unidas Podemos Austria

Alfred Bosch, Catalan Minister for Foreign Affairs