Hours after the opening of Printemps des Arts fair in Tunis, a controversy broke out when one of the organisers asked the artist Electro Jaye to take down his piece, ‘La république Islaïque de Tunisie’. (The word “islaïque” is a combination of the word “Islam” with the word “laïque,” which means “laic” or “secular.”) The fair was being held in the monumental Abdelia Palace at La Marsa.
“One of the organisers told me that he was receiving pressure from the State to take down my artwork because it was too politically engaging and might cause problems, and I did it,” Electro Jaye told Tunisia Live.
Subsequently, the DJ turned off the music and independent artists began removing their work in solidarity, as a statement against censorship.
Electro Jaye declared that his art was “censored” because it showed the Star of David and a Christian cross, with the name ‘La république Islaïque de Tunisie’, which could be interpreted as anti-government and offensive to the new Islamic government.
The response of one of the organizers, Mr. Sadok Hendaoui, contradicts Electro Jaye’s statement saying that the occurrence was merely a misunderstanding. “We have [other] more controversial artwork exhibited and we have no intention of removing it,” attested Hendaoui.
Tunisia Live – 2 June 2012:
Political Art: Controversy over Censorship at Tunis Printemps des Arts Fair
Art Now – 4 June 2012:
A Tunisian Graffiti Artist Cries “Censorship,” and Locals Line Up Both to Support and Dismiss Him