[-empyre-] Fwd: [spectre] Fwd: Fwd: Removal of Works from Azerbaijan Pavilion in 54th Venice Biennale

simon swht at clear.net.nz
Wed Jun 8 19:35:06 EST 2011

I'm assuming that others have received this via spectre - but I am 
forwarding it just in case it doesn't make it in to the flow of the 
discussion, to which it appears particularly apposite.

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: 	[spectre] Fwd: Fwd: Removal of Works from Azerbaijan Pavilion 
in 54th Venice Biennale
Date: 	Wed, 08 Jun 2011 11:18:38 +0200
From: 	Francis Hunger <francis.hunger at irmielin.org>
To: 	Spectre <spectre at mikrolisten.de>

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: *beral madra* <madraberal at gmail.com <mailto:madraberal at gmail.com>>
Date: 2011/6/8

please distribute

I was invited by the Ministry of Culture of Azerbaijan to be the 
advisory curator of the exhibition of Azerbaijan Pavilion in 54th Venice 
Biennale. From September 2010 on I have worked with Mr. Chingiz 
Farzaliev, who acted as commissar and local curator. All the works of 
these artists have been evaluated in meetings in Baku and Venice. Aidan 
Salakhova has presented her sculptures in every detail which have been 
produced in Carrara and these works together with the works of the 
artist have been published in the catalogue and announced in the website 
from April 2011 on.

31st of May, when I came to the pavilion I was informed thatMinistry of 
Culture has found Salakhova’s two sculptures which were installed in the 
entrance of the Palazzo controversial to the prestige of the country.

Aidan Salakhova and me, we felt very concerned and responsible of the 
image of the exhibition and respecting the position of the other artists 
we tried to be positive and find a solution. As it could not be removed 
during the opening days, the sculptures were covered with textile. Until 
5th of June, every daywe have discussed with the authorities and 
responsible people of the pavilion and explained that:

-Removing the sculpture will mean “censorship” and it will do more harm 
to the image of the country than the sculpture itself; it would be much 
effective, if the officials would place a label next to the sculpture 
and declare that the authorities are not acknowledging and approving the 
form, message or concept of this sculpture, that it is the 
interpretation of the artist.

-The concept of the sculptures has been misinterpreted and misjudged by 
the authorities or by their advisers; all symbols, signs, objects 
Salakhova is using have a historical and traditional knowledge and 

-The meaning and message of this work is extensively explained in my 
catalogue text and is eventually the artist’s interpretation of “being 
woman under the religious dictums”; here the religion is not only 
related to Islam but also to Orthodoxy and other religions, which before 
Islam introduced the veil;

-The selection of artists and the works have been made by me and by Mr. 
Farzaliev with utmost responsibility and prudence; during this process 
there was not one negative hint that came on Salakhova’s work.

-The Venice Biennale is a platform for extreme artistic freedom, for 
sensitive topics, for limitless criticism; therefore all countries must 
consider and accept this context before participating.

However, we were not able to convince and stop the removal of these 

In my 25 years of curating profession, I have never experienced this 
kind of conflict. However, lately I am observing - probably most of my 
colleagues also do - the growing intrusion of the political and official 
power on contemporary art production and on the artists and curators in 
many countries, including the developed democracies. Contemporary art 
production and its theoretical and critical context is being employed 
and exploited by the official power as well as by the private sector as 
a tool for high prestige and glory; but at the same time its content and 
concepts are not tolerated and acknowledged.

We in the production sector of contemporary art are witnessing and 
enduring this use/abuse process. We release protests and supports for 
the victims of these attitudes. Journalists investigate and write about 
it. However, at the end the damage is done and the artist or the curator 

In the case of Azerbaijan Pavilion, I think from now on this is the 
problem of the artists and curators living and working in Azerbaijan. I 
have done my best, to bring the Azerbaijan contemporary art production 
into the agenda of international contemporary art; however I must 
acknowledge that I was naive and I failed. The artists, art critics and 
curators in Azerbaijan should act and liberate art making, art 
production and creative criticism and take their long deserved position 
in the international art.

On the other side, this is also becoming a general problem in the art 
world and I think the artists and curators should have an international 
legal protection against these conflicts.

Beral Madra

Tuesday, 07 June 2011

beral madra
curator, art critic
BM Contemporary Art Center, Istanbul
www.bmsuma07.blogspot.com <http://www.bmsuma07.blogspot.com/>
www.pluversum.blogspot.com <http://www.pluversum.blogspot.com/>
www.supremepolicy.blogspot.com <http://www.supremepolicy.blogspot.com/>
0090 212 2311023 <tel:212%202311023>
bmadra at tnn.net <mailto:bmadra at tnn.net>
btmadra at dsl.ttmail.com <mailto:btmadra at dsl.ttmail.com>
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