Censoring Culture

Contemporary Threats to Free Expression

A bestselling art historian and a free speech advocate explore subtle new forms of censorship in the art world and beyond

“In private, museum people have told me that self-censorship is indeed the order of the day. But it is quite rare for an official to speak about it in public. Self-censorship occurs behind closed doors. There are practically no whistle-blowers.” —Hans Haacke, conceptual artist known for his socially and politically engaged art

If your idea of censorship is an anonymous bureaucrat in a government office exercising prudish control over “offensive” art and speech, wake up and smell the conglomeration. Censorship today is just as likely to be the result of a market force or a bandwidth monopoly as a line edit or the covering of a nude sculpture, and the current system of new technologies and economic arrangements has subtle, built-in mechanisms for suppressing free expression as powerful as any known in other centuries.

In Censoring Culture, the nationally known author of the ArtSpeak books and the head of the National Coalition Against Censorship’s Arts Program bring together the latest thinking from art historians, cultural theorists, legal scholars, and psychoanalysts, as well as first-person accounts by artists and advocates, to give us a comprehensive understanding of censorship in a new century.