I want to talk about censorship. I want to do this because it se¬ems to me a reasonably topical subject which has links with everything dealt with in this magazine: Art and Culture. Before I express myself, I need to point out two basic premises. The first is that I might be a victim of censorship to such an extent that I do not realise I am speaking about things I only partially know about, if at all, because all the information I have so far assimilated has re-ached me already adequately censored and filtered. It is an extreme case, but it might be true, and as such obliges you, the readers, not to go any further with this editorial, since its contents and ideas have both been adulterated.The second premise is that I believe that, even where very strong censorship is applied, it is possible to make all kinds of idea circulate because of the many different communication tools which are available to a large portion of the world’s population. Having said this, something is not working right. If, as I think, the free critical thought which is at the basis of every personal and global evolution and improvement is circulating ade-quately, should we not now find ourselves living in a much more open society, a society much more willing to accept criticism? As things currently stand, this is not the case. It is however true that I am extremely familiar with the story and works of Ai Weiwei, the Chinese artist arrested and imprisoned for 81 days by the Chinese authorities for his anti-government ideas. Logically, I should know absolutely no¬thing about him, nor should it be known that the Chinese government committed such an injustice; everyone should not think that China is the country of censorship and the country where freedom of speech and/or expression are daily mutilated and repressed.Instead, I do know this. So I believe that ideas circulate in this fairly free way with great differences in truthfulness and exactness from their origins. Has the power of censorship ended, then? Absolutely not. But the way of censoring has changed. As things stand today, preventing communication is almost impossible, strongly li-miting it in any case causes indirect damage to the profit logic which is almost the unique driving force of our society (do not tell me that the logic behind the battle between Google and the Chinese giant is not pure¬ly economic). The point is that for a long time now our society has learned to sedate any type of opposition, by using a much more devious, underground kind of censorship: instead of cutting off the information completely, it has chosen to produce a version of its own, studied and distributed in such a way as to iduce even the most ferocious of thinkers to orientate their ideas, and very often their dreams, towards a logic which has the same purpose as drives our society itself, i.e. profit, money.We are all well aware that the system we live in does not function and does not contemplate the common good as one of its aims. This is clear, but despite it all the majority of us, including myself, do nothing concrete to change it. Free thought, in all its forms, particularly its artistic ones, should be the pool out of which we extract ideas for acting
concretely on so-ciety, modifying it and causing it to evolve: a process whereby artists of all kinds give concre-te form to ideas, ideas being a notoriously elusive material which can be moulded in infinite ways.
It is my personal opinion that things are not like that now. Imagine if we were all rich and famous. I believe many problems would disappear from our heads, and with them the will and desire to ask questions, seek answers and chan¬ge the things which surround us. Do you know why? Because we would have achieved self-fulfilment, that self-fulfilment that our society has posited as the highest goal and that, stran¬ge to say, does not contemplate the well-being of others. This is how they have educated us to think. This is the true censorship, which was being applied long before the censorship of global information. Profit interests are the best passport for the caste of VIP artists, all the more so since the works of these “artists” do not contain any idea which leads to deep reflection on the world. They do not in the least disturb the placid involution of critical thought, which in my opinion is the fundamental basis for any kind of personal or global improvement. In short, if an artist is potentially a money-making machine and is also harmless, lo and behold we have the perfect condition for his/her enjoying visibility, a visibility as wide as the potential markets on which he/she is proposed.Certainly, making art does not necessarily mean unsettling the souls of your viewers or activa-ting in them a mechanism of reflection whereby they question what surrounds them. Someti-mes, art can be simply an aesthetic event which participates in the description of the existing world, a focus which sheds light on a specific part of our system. Having said this, I hope Damien Hirst, whose works have gone under the hammer for various millions of pounds, will forgive me if I say that I do not believe he has contributed anything innovative or genial to the world of art. Perhaps it is for this very reason that he has managed to enter the Hall of Fame of the “creative” spirits of contemporary art. Money censures people’s heads and it does it extremely effectively. So please let nobody be scandalised if some artists or some ideas are censored, since actually we get to know the person or the thing that has been censored, and we also manage to understand their underlying message or idea. This does not mean approval of censorship. Indeed, opposi¬tion to any limitation and selection of ideas and concepts is something which must always in any case continue, just as freedom of speech must always be defended. But I’d like the¬re to be a bit more coherence; I’d like us not speak about Ai Weiwei only after his imprison¬ment. If his ideas are so potentially able to act on the ideals of a nation like China, which has retained it opportune to imprison him, they were also able to do so before that happened. Perhaps if Hirst had been Chinese, he would have been similarly censored. A question of contingencies.