Does Censorship in Art Protect People? A Case Study on BLOOP Festival Ibiza

July 30, 2017

Censorship in the media, arts, education, religion, politics and its pretext for protection has existed in our society ever since we can remember. But, as more and more the movement for freedom of speech, rights protection, and other counterpart tendencies grow, censorship seemed to be of something of the past. However, just recently it struck again, in Sant Antoni on the Ibiza Island in Spain.

The 2016 edition of the BLOOP International Proactive Art Festival’s theme was NO FEAR. As loyal and consistent as he can be, internationally-famed artist Ino painted a big imposing hand pointing at a small hand that resisted pacifically with the middle finger. The mural, titled FUNK THE POWER, was located beside a school’s wall, in order to address the bullying issue that is currently discussed and tackled worldwide.

By the time it was completed, the artwork had sparked up debate among the members of the entire institution. Without prior notice to the BLOOP Festival, the Sant Antoni city council (that had issued an official permission to paint the wall) released a statement that the wall would be erased due to its “inappropriateness”.

Into Painting a Mural at the 2016 Bloop Festival

Ino’s Mural for Bloop Festival Removed

A remarkable artwork by Ino was considered indecent on an island traditionally notorious for nightlife - even though some 10 meters away from the school, there is the epicenter of cheap drunk tourism. The censorship of the mural shed some light, not only on the Sant Antoni city council’s ignorance towards to arts, but also on the rejection of a sophisticated, if not intellectual approach, which address the issue of bullying through art. The city council was shortsighted and only focused on the superficial aesthetics, the middle finger, and not the true message. It may have prevented the children from imitating the middle finger but then again, it officialises the adults’ slack attitude of refusal and their negligence when it comes to teaching them the real message. Living in Sant Antoni, children already witness tourists on a daily basis, some under the effect of illegal substances or alcohol 24/7, others half naked wandering around, with prostitution on every block. I imagine that the parents have to explain this to them in some way anyway. Nevertheless, the curtains were closed mercilessly with a paint roller dipped in white paint.

Ino's Mural being Removed
Ino's Mural being Removed

A Grand Comeback?

Ino expressed his understanding for the Festival’s relentless effort to prevent the wall from being censored, stating “You can erase a wall but not an idea”. BLOOP is moving to the island’s capital and aiming towards new horizons to export the BLOOP project around the world. On the other hand, Sant Antoni lost an international arts festival that re-qualified its transgressive tourism entirely for free. Now the sole quality tourism that’s left in Sant Antoni are the sunsets at Cafe del Mar.

And like the organiser said, “Art has to stir debate. Art needs to make people think…Despite the outcome”.

On BLOOP Festival’s website it still hasn’t been confirmed, but according to sources, Ino will make a comeback to the white isle. Let’s see what he stirs up for this edition of BLOOP, dedicated to the theme of CHANGES.

Written by Felix Hsu.

All images courtesy the author.

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