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The shadow cone: where democracy ends and censorship begins

  • Event
  • 11 May 2024

As part of the first edition of the EXPOSED festival, MAO is hosting a talk featuring Shahidul Alam, a Bengali photojournalist, teacher, and social activist, Yasmine Eid-Sabbagh, a French-Lebanese artist and activist, and Zeina Arida, director of Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha.

Together with Davide Quadrio, they will delve into the pressing issues of freedom and censorship within the artistic sphere, as well as the evolving dynamics surrounding the binomial democracy=freedom: as the notion of freedom appears to be gradually crumbling and corroding, challenged by the unstoppable rise of the equation freedom=privilege, the autonomy of thought can only be exercised within rigid boundaries.

The dialogue will unfold through reflections pertinent to the post-global world, possible practices of resistance within the field, spheres of expressive freedom, and the development of artistic and intellectual paradigms stemming from non-Western and undemocratic social, cultural, and political contexts.

What implications does this shift in the democratic axis hold, and what revelations may emerge in the future?

The necessity for a discussion on these issues arises from two pivotal events involving Alam and Eid-Sabbagh, which have marked a watershed between a before and an after, catalyzing a significant anthropological change.

In 2023, Yasmine Eid-Sabbagh was among the participants in documenta 15, curated by the Ruangrupa collective, an event that precipitated a crisis surrounding artistic and expressive freedom unparalleled since World War II; Shahidul Alam was instead supposed to be one of the curators of the 2024 Photography Biennial in Germany: the event was canceled because of Alam's own pro-Palestinian positions.

On the occasion of the meeting, their artistic practice will be presented at MAO from an archival and documentary perspective: rather than a conventional exhibition, it aims to offer the public insight into two distinct approaches to art and political activism.

Free admission subject to availability.