A group of French artists interested in protecting artistic freedom is adapting NCAC’s Best Practices for Managing Controversy. The document, jointly developed by NCAC and a number of U.S. arts organizations, provides museums and other cultural institutions with guidelines that can help manage controversial content and transform controversy into a teachable moment about the nature of diverse opinions and an institution’s ability to address them.
At a meeting on March 17 in Paris, the Best Practices Guidelines were discussed in relation to concerns about recent censorship incidents in France, as well as in the context of a rising sense of fear and isolation among arts institutions.
A recent example of censorship in France is the artwork “Silence” by artist Zoulikha Bouabdellah. In January, her installation was to be displayed at Pavillon Vendôme in the Parisian suburb Clichy. The artwork showed high-heeled shoes and prayer mats. The artist withdrew the installation from the exhibition after a local Muslim federation warned of possible violence. Instead the artist replaced it with a video installation showing belly-dancing to the French national anthem, with swirling red, white and blue shawls symbolizing the national flag.
You can access the french translation of NCAC’s Best Practices for Managing Controversy/Guide de bonnes pratiques pour la gestion de controverses à destination des institutions culturelles here: Guide liberté d’exposition