Press release: World Conference on Artistic Freedom of Expression in Oslo

18 June 2012

Artists who have received death threats, experienced imprisonment, abduction or censorship because of their artistic work will enter the stage when the first ever World Conference on Artistic Freedom of Expression is held at the Oslo Opera House.

On 25-26 October 2012, artists from all genres and from all over the world will examine and discuss with curators, scholars, cultural producers and media people where, how and to what extent constraints are placed on artistic freedom of expression. The conference is organised by Fritt Ord and Freemuse.

Sentenced to 59 years in prison
The Burmese comedian and film director Maung Thura, better known as Zarganar, has been politically persecuted and imprisoned for his artistic and activist activities. He is known for his sharp ridicule of the Burmese government. In 2008 he was imprisoned for “public order offenses” and sentenced to 59 years behind bars. Thanks to massive international pressure, he was released in October 2011 along with many other political prisoners in Burma. Zarganar will open the conference in Oslo. He will be joined on stage by Win Maw, the Burmese VJ and musician who was imprisoned in 2007 and released in January 2012.

“Censorship is characterised by the self-contradictory fact that by imposing limits it provokes reactions to those limits. By limiting freedom it helps fuel the desire for even greater freedom, as the title of the conference illustrates: All That is Banned is Desired,” comments Marie Korpe, executive director of Freemuse.

Bente Roalsvig, project director at the Fritt Ord Foundation, adds:
“Paradoxically, the censorship of art often draws our attention to the political significance and explosive force of art. However, censorship has many guises. During the conference in Oslo, we will examine obvious cases of censorship as well as more hidden mechanisms such as market censorship and political agendas.”

Documenting censorship
The conference website,, is launched today. It will present news stories, features and interviews about censorship of the arts. The website is the first of its kind and aims at setting a new standard for the documentation of censorship of artistic freedom of expression. As the conference programme evolves, it will feature presentations of artists and speakers coming to Oslo as well as updates about the conference programme.

The world conference and the new website is made possible thanks to financial support from the Swedish Postcode Lottery, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Fritt Ord Foundation.

Media contacts
• Ole Reitov, programme manager, Freemuse: +45 2323 2765 (mobile), +45 3332 1027 (office), e-mail: – website:

• Bente Roalsvig, project director, Fritt Ord Foundation: +47 91613340 (mobile), +47 23014643 (office), e-mail: – website:

Press photos for download

Conference website



Freemuse is an independent international organisation which advocates freedom of expression for musicians and composers worldwide. The organisation’s home page,, is the world’s largest knowledge base on music censorship. For more information about Freemuse, its activities and publications, see
FREEMUSE – Freedom of Musical Expression
Nytorv 17, 3rd floor, DK-1450 Copenhagen K, Denmark
Tel: +45 3332 1027

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