Critics claim there is a growing trend in Macedonia that artists who explore controversial issues calling into question the state or church are being censored and are practising self-censorship, Balkan Insight reported.
A recent case in 2014 involved an artist, Irena Paskali, who created a billboard asking why so many Macedonians accepted being double-billed for their utilities, rather than to object. The billboard was set to be part of the 2014 exhibition ‘Billboard Art 2: Procrastination’ held in the capital, Skopje, until Paskali ran into a problem – she and the organisers couldn’t find a printing house that would print the billboard.
Paskali told Balkan Insight: “This case was an indicator that if the art piece does not support government policy there is a chance it will be censored. Specifically, my work was banned from this exhibition because one of the companies didn’t want to print it fearing that they would be fined by the authorities, or enter into conflict with them.”
The organisers of the exhibition, the Institute for Culture and Art, found this particular case to be troubling with one of their members, Igor Sevoski, saying that “the direct approach in the illustration of the society’s philosophy of how things should work caused censorship of the work at the very root, even before it was printed.”
The Macedonian Ministry of Culture issued the following statement at that time in response to Paskali’s case:
“We consider accusations of censorship as frivolous, tendentious and unfounded. This is a desperate attempt by the opposition to defocus the public from the successful implementation of the National Strategy for the Development of Culture.”
Since 2008 there have been several instances of artists being refused exhibition space and works being banned, destroyed, defaced, and censored in Macedonia, due to them calling into question or exploring issues around national identity, religion, the relationship between church and state, sexuality, personal identity, and nudity.
» Balkan Insight – 6 November 2015:
Critical Voices ‘Erased from Macedonian Arts’
» Artsfreedom.org – 28 June 2012:
Macedonia: Work of art destroyed for offending religious feelings