JIA CHANG, Standing up Peeing, 1~6, 2006 c-print 120x150cm.
The countries of the Asia-Pacific region are commonly defined as those that need American support to counterbalance the rise of Chinese power in this part of the world. This partnership accelerates economic and cultural rapprochement with the West so that in terms of censorship, the issues are more and more common.
Since the end of the avant-gardes, contemporary art has taken countless directions with no hierarchy, allowing the development of a great variety of artistic, critical and curatorial talents. But for the last thirty years this balance has been increasingly challenged by powerful global brand companies considering contemporary art as a communication tool. This comes at a heavy price : with an art world increasingly shaped by corporate interests and ther brands' global réputation of course always coming first, curators and artists started to get more and more censored. Now most of them know the rules so they either choose to turn down the well paid work proposals, or decide to collaborate and selfcensor themselves accordingly. As a matter of consequence, cases of censorship like the one described bellow get more and more difficult to trace.
CENSORS: SEOUL OLYMPIC MUSEUM OF ART, Seoul, Korea
In 2021, the Seoul Olympic Museum of Art (SOMA Museum) presented an exhibition curated by Stephanie Seungmin Kim, entitled Body & Mind ([Mom] & [Mam] in Korean). This exhibition was an exploration of how humans have developed and processed our understanding of the body and the mind into art forms across different time periods. It also examined how artificial intelligence and body technology push the boundaries of both body and mind.
In this context, the curater included Jia Chang’s work Standing Up Peeing next to three photographs showing Myron’s Townley Diskobolos and Polykleitos’s Spear Bearer or Doryphoros. The latter artworks have long been considered symbols of harmony, balance, and athletic energy transformed into timeless works of art. Stephanie Kim wanted to show how Jia Chang’s photographs, while equally visually stunning, stand in contrast to Diskobolos and Doryphoros, showing something very different – if not opposite - of these symbols and ideals.
When she was installing the works, museum staff came to see the results and vehemently opposed the idea of showing such works in museums targeting family audiences. Despite the curater's arguments, the clear and powerful effect of presenting such a contrast, and the fact all subjects were naked, she was forced to withdraw the set of Jia Chang’s photographs, Standing up Peeing.
Myron’s Townley Diskobolos and Polykleitos’s Spear Bearer or Doryphoros exhibited in Seoul Olympic Museum of Art (SOMA Museum), Seoul, Korea, from 1st April to 7th of August 2022 (this year).