Topic: Doublethink 2
There is a lot of discussion here regarding censorship which I do not believe it to be relevant in the case of the IFM v NFA dispute.
NFA stated that "the establishment and operation of a department of the school in the occupied territory on a permanent basis stood in conflict both with Cyprus as well as International Law principles."
I can not recall any such a law, local or international, but I would like to believe that no official press release by either party would claim anything which is unsubstantiated. On IFM's defence, NFA "has not fulfilled its contractual obligations to secure the selected venues by the curators in the entire city".
IFM also states that the NFA called "... into question the artistic independence of the curators and Manifesta."
Both cases have their strong points but somehow I cannot see what "artistic independence" has to do with the issue regarding the venue. Censoring and independence has to do with the freedom (or lack of it) to present work in the best possible light within a particular social, political, economic, geographical, ethnological, anthropological and cultural environment. NFA, to my knowledge, at no point stipulated the content of what was going to be exhibited, taught or discussed. I also understand that they did not get involved in the process of selection regarding who would participate in Manifesta 6. This was the total autonomy and freedom of choice of the curators.
The main point of dispute is that of the venue not of censorship or artistic freedom.
The IFM statement reads "... forces Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot artists and intellectuals alike back into a state of enforced isolation"
The isolation and in effect censorship of Cypriots living in Cyprus unfortunately comes from big institutions not unlike the IFM. This censorship however is veiled behind arguments which most times have nothing to do with the artists or the quality of their work but with the artist's representation in 'well connected' galleries and/or their representation in big international exhibitions. I have been visiting big international exhibitions for about 20 years now and I know that a Cypriot representation merely means presence rather than exposure for the artists. The machinery running 'exposure' always focuses on the commercial viability of the artist in the international scene and that only comes from the establishment, meaning the powerful commercial galleries.
Having said the above, I would like to also pose my doubt regarding NFA's ethical right to cancel the exhibition on the grounds of the venue. From what we read, the particular venue had a legal Cypriot deed. ie the pre 1974 owner was a Turkish Cypriot. With this in mind I can understand the public outcry against the NFA and I can also understand how this is interpreted as an separatist attitude of the NFA against the Turkish Cypriots. What I would like to know, is the local/international law which prevented the NFA to accept the location of the school in the North. I would also like to know how this law would prohibit the establishment of a temporary school (100 days) and not an exhibition or a coffee break event, one of which I, and many other Greek Cypriots have attended.
I cannot pretend to know all the facts on the whole interchange between the NFA and the IFM so I would refrain to speculate but I would instead "claim that [del]cities[/del] cultural bodies are not under attack from the outside as from the inside" (Nigel Coates, Ecstacity, 2003). The cancellation of Manifesta was not because of politics but because of the lack of transparent communication between the two bodies and the conflict between two differing agendas.