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South Korea: Harmful for children? ‘Forever Animal’ gallery exhibition censored in Seoul

26 August 2019
Sploshing on the Spree, Forever Animals exhibition, Rebecca Goyette, 2019
Sploshing on the Spree, Forever Animal exhibition, Rebecca Goyette, 2019

 

On August 1 2019, an exhibition of drawings and art films was cancelled at the Huam-Garok gallery due to alleged reasons of indecency.

Rebecca Goyette’s “Forever Animal” solo exhibition, described by the artist as being about “sexual sovereignty, pleasure and healing through connection” includes feminist depictions of women, nudity and sexuality.

According to Goyette, she had collaborated with Seoul-based curator Yeu Ryang Choi of Yeu & Me since 2017 and together agreed to show her works to a public South Korean audience at Huam-Garok. Whilst the gallery managers had agreed to show the works, the gallery owner cancelled the show on alleged indecency grounds.

In response to viewing the works, Goyette explains that the owner “reacted very negatively and censored my show, stating it was bad for kids”. 

“I didn’t realise how much extra labour it would take to make art about sex, particularly as our society shifts in the direction of nationalism and corporate control, the divine feminine is under scrutiny,” said Goyette.

Goyette states that Yeu Ryang Choi has proceeded with a lawsuit against the gallery on the grounds of contract breach. Given the legal proceedings, the exhibition still hangs in the gallery, although never officially opened, where passersby may view the works from the window, without access to visit the show.

'Forever Animals' exhibition closed visible from the street.
‘Forever Animal’ exhibition, closed by visible from outside of the Huam-Garok gallery, Seoul, South Korea, 2019

 

However, this kind of censorship is far from unusual. According to the Freemuse’s 2018 report Creativity Wronged: How women’s right to artistic freedom is denied and marginalised, “art portraying or depicting female bodies partially or completely nude are most commonly associated with notions of indecency”.

According to the report, 64% of artistic violations between 2013 and 2018 were motivated by perceptions surrounding indecency.

“So very often I have been met with resistance against my female-authored art about sexuality, but to have a beautiful show produced in collaboration with Yeu & Me disrespected like this, I cannot stay silent,” said Goyette.   

If you wish to see the exhibition works, visit the Gallery of Censored Works on artisticfreedomdefenders.org.

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