Svetlana Mintcheva

About Svetlana Mintcheva

is NCAC's Director of Programs. She joined NCAC after years of academic teaching and research on post World War II art and literature. Having spent a large part of her academic career analyzing provocative art and its socio-political contexts, she is happy to be on the front lines protecting the coexistence of a diversity of voices in the cultural sphere. Svetlana has published and presented multiple papers on contemporary art and writing — most recently, she co-edited Censoring Culture: Contemporary Threats to Free Expression (2006, The New Press). She curated the 2007 exhibition Filth, Treason, Blasphemy?: Museums and Censorship, at the McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum in Chicago, IL and conceived Exposing the Censor Within, a traveling interactive public art installation, which opened in California in March of 2007. An academic and an activist, Mintcheva has taught literature and critical theory at the University of Sofia, Bulgaria and at Duke University, from which she received her Ph.D. in critical theory in 1999. She currently teaches part-time at New York University. Her academic research and writing focus on postmodern literature and aesthetic provocations as well as issues in censorship and ethics.

Between Boycotts and Special Interest Campaigns: the Chilling of Speech on Israel and Palestine

By |2024-04-11T14:50:31-04:00February 5th, 2018|Blog|

Any art institution that displays art about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict - or even art that is created by Israeli or Palestinian artists - needs to carefully navigate a space between intense pressures coming from right-wing pro-Israel groups and calls for boycott from supporters of the cultural BDS movement.

NCAC Joins Worldwide Secret Cinema Screenings to Protest Censorship of The Interview

By |2020-01-05T23:18:47-05:00December 22nd, 2014|Blog|

On Sunday, Dec 21st, NCAC joined Secret Cinema and Spectrum to screen Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator in protest against the cancellation of The Interview. As NCAC noted in a statement regarding the cancellation, threats of violence have become increasingly successful in suppressing cultural expression. Before Sony Pictures Entertainment withdrew its film, The Interview, from all outlets of circulation and distribution, we saw London’s [...]

In Praise of Emotional Discomfort

By |2020-01-03T14:55:53-05:00November 6th, 2014|Blog|

The United States is proud of its freedoms, but it is also – and increasingly – a country of the easily – and proudly - offended. Being offended has become something of a political badge of honor: if I find sexist (or racist, or anti-gay) jokes appropriately offensive I am an enlightened feminist (or champion of minority groups or gay [...]

Bravos Drown Out Hecklers at “Death of Klinghoffer” Opening

By |2020-01-03T14:47:51-05:00October 22nd, 2014|Incidents|

The audience coming to see John Adams' Death of Klinghoffer on Monday, October 20th, had to pass through a cordon of angry protesters crying "shame" and holding placards condemning the Metropolitan Opera of rather far fetched things like "taking terrorist $$$" or "glorifying terrorism." They must not have succeeded in shaming anyone as the house was full. The few hecklers in the [...]

Sculpture of Male Nude Declared Porn by Some Texans

By |2020-01-03T14:52:14-05:00September 24th, 2014|Blog|

Jorge Marin's sculpture group Wings of the City has been on display in Houston's Discovery Green Park since early September. Almost predictably some viewers are objecting to the nudity of the sculptures. As usual those who object do it supposedly on behalf of the innocence of children - though Wings of the City has been exhibited internationally with no apparent damage to [...]

Conflict Avoidance

By |2020-01-03T14:47:46-05:00June 12th, 2014|Blog|

Cancelled commencement speakers, a rush of attempts to put trigger warnings on class content, student petitions to remove potentially disturbing artwork from campus… What is going on? Academia is no stranger to free speech battles. In the 1950s professors could be ousted for “treasonous or seditious acts or utterances” or for being members of an organization advocating the violent overthrow [...]

Then and Now: War Reporting

By |2016-01-14T11:39:28-05:00May 21st, 2014|Blog|

This year NCAC celebrates 40 years on the frontlines of the censorship wars. As we revisit our 40 year history —and the recent history of censorship in the US —we will be looking at how information access, creative freedom and control over what we see and know have changed - or not. The approach of Memorial Day reminds us how [...]

Damien Hirst’s “The Virgin Mother” Under Fire In Long Island. Protect Interesting Public Art!

By |2020-01-03T14:47:27-05:00May 8th, 2014|Blog|

Damien Hirst's The Virgin Mother is a large piece about even larger subjects: life, death, birth, and humanity. But is it too large for Old Westbury, L.I.? The Virgin Mother was previously displayed (there are several casts) at Lever House in Manhattan, outside London's Royal Academy, and on Fontvieille Harbour, Monaco. But now that it landed in posh Old Westbury, [...]

More Trouble in Academia: the Middle Eastern Debate

By |2020-01-03T14:43:19-05:00March 18th, 2014|Blog|

With by now predictable regularity, student activism - and even academic debate - on the conflict in the Middle East is met with punitive sanctions and attempts at silencing.  Such attempts exist on both sides, but disproportionately punish students and speakers critical of Israeli politics. The latest episode took place this March on the Campus of Northeastern University, where a [...]

Kennesaw State reinstates art installation, but is there more trouble brewing in Academia? Trigger warnings.

By |2020-01-03T14:38:05-05:00March 14th, 2014|Blog|

Kennesaw State finally formally announced the reinstatement of Ruth Stanford's “A Walk in the Valley” to the opening exhibition at the new Bernard A. Zuckerman Museum of Art. The piece, a commissioned work about Georgia author Corra Harris' homestead, was taken down two weeks ago, shortly before the formal opening on Saturday, March 1st.

Kennesaw State University To Restore Censored Artwork

By |2019-03-15T16:36:39-04:00March 4th, 2014|Incidents|

The National Coalition Against Censorship received word that Ruth Stanford's "A Walk in the Valley" has been restored to the Kennesaw State University's Zuckerman Museum of Art. KSU had said “A Walk in the Valley” was pulled because it did not fit the "celebratory nature" of the museum's opening.

NY Art School Boxes Student Sperm Project

By |2020-01-03T13:50:17-05:00March 5th, 2013|Blog|

The recent rather heavy-handed treatment of Marc Bradley Johnson’s MFA thesis project at New York’s School of Visual Art (SVA) raises some interesting concerns—especially for an institution that aims to play a leadership role in the bio-art movement. Johnson’s project consists of a refrigerator containing 68 vials of his sperm arranged on a grid. The artist originally intended to give [...]

Art, Porn and Censorship: the Mansfield Art Center (OH) Covers up Painting

By |2022-12-09T14:16:04-05:00May 24th, 2012|Blog|

A painting, included in a juried exhibition show at the Mansfield Art Center in Ohio, was partially covered with black paper. The painting had been selected for inclusion in the show, but the management of the Art Center decided that the outside edges of the work, which were covered with clippings from pornographic magazines, should not be seen by anyone. Sans [...]

Art Succeeds in Starting a Conversation, But Some Call for the Cancellation of the Project

By |2020-01-03T13:43:19-05:00March 1st, 2012|Blog|

Update: Lawrence, KS officials have banned the project, saying the proposed art installation would amount to animal cruelty. The Kansas code allows “with respect to farm animals” for “normal or accepted practices of animal husbandry, including the normal and accepted practices for the slaughter of such animals for food or by-products and the careful or thrifty management of one's herd [...]

Kismet Cancelled in Pennsylvania School District

By |2019-03-15T17:05:35-04:00October 25th, 2011|Blog|

The Richland, PA School District canceled a high school student production of Kismet, a 1953 musical made along the lines of stories from the Arabian Nights. The musical was planned to open in February. The reason: the proximity of the town to the 9/11 attacks: "Flight 93 flew right over our heads." A fact which apparently has made local citizens [...]

Anti-Bullying Legislation: Good Intentions, but…

By |2020-01-03T13:43:11-05:00September 1st, 2011|Blog|

A New Jersey state law coming into effect today (Sept 1st)  is considered the “toughest legislation against bullying in the nation”. It may, however, also prove to be dangerously overbroad and stifle student speech on a variety of topics. Called the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights, the law was adopted in the aftermath of the suicide of a Rutgers University student [...]

In Banning Books School DIstricts Betray Students

By |2020-01-03T13:43:09-05:00August 26th, 2011|Blog|

As Banned Book week approaches it appears that the book censors are in competition to suppress some the most interesting and recognized authors and books! Buckling under pressure from vocal individuals with narrow ideological agendas, school districts are betraying their primary responsibility: to provide young people with a quality, wide-ranging education and help them develop into thinking members of society. [...]

On M.F. Hussain, Free Expression, and Pluralism

By |2019-03-07T23:30:38-05:00June 13th, 2011|Blog|

Nudity in art appears to be controversial whether exhibited in a public space in the US, or created by India’s most renowned artist. And so is the artistic treatment of religious icons. India’s greatest contemporary artist, M. F. Hussain, died June 9th, 2011, at 95, still in self-imposed exile caused by the hundreds of legal cases filed against him in [...]

CUNY Likely to Reverse On Kushner, But The Pattern Stands

By |2020-01-03T13:40:36-05:00May 9th, 2011|Blog|

A Seattle billboard removed by Clear Channel Outdoor It is appalling that the trustees of CUNY voted not to bestow an honorary degree on Tony Kushner, the acclaimed Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, because a trustee disagreed with his views on Israel. Denying him this honor solely because of his political views violates core First Amendment principles and is [...]

Christian Extremists Vandalize Art — Again and Again

By |2020-01-03T13:40:29-05:00April 20th, 2011|Blog|

Last October we reported about an incident at the Loveland Museum/Gallery in Colorado where a woman ripped into a lithograph after she busted the artwork’s plexiglass case with a crowbar. She did this because God told her to do it. In her explanation of the vandalism, Kathleen Folden refers to the similar destruction of Andres Serrano’s Piss Christ in Australia [...]

The Logic of the Censor

By |2016-01-15T10:43:44-05:00April 6th, 2011|Blog|

Susan Burns, the woman who tried to tear a Paul Gauguin painting off a wall at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., stated her reasons thus: “I feel that Gauguin is evil. He has nudity and is bad for the children. He has two women in the painting and it’s very homosexual. I was trying to remove it. [...]

President of Maine College of Art Condemns Censorship of Maine Labor Murals

By |2020-01-03T13:40:22-05:00March 30th, 2011|Blog|

Update: As the Boston Herald reports, Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree has issued a statement insisting that the Maine Department of Labor mural (removed in late March by order of Gov. Paul LePage), should be put back up in the Department so the state won’t have to repay to the federal government most of its $60,000 cost. She adds, "Public art [...]

Our ever more private public spaces

By |2020-01-03T13:40:03-05:00March 1st, 2011|Blog|

The latest billboard controversy, around the removal of a billboard paid for by a Texas anti-abortion group from an advertising space in SoHo, owned by Lamar Advertising, comes as no surprise. In 2006 Lamar refused to run photographs by Polish artist Karolina Bregula that show same-sex couples holding hands. The photographs were to be displayed as part of a Real [...]

Controversy Around 89 year Old Statue in Queens, NY

By |2019-03-13T15:37:32-04:00February 25th, 2011|Blog|

Unveiled in 1922, Frederick MacMonnies' Triumph of Civic Virtue was called sexist from the get go. And sexist it unarguably is (to an extent that it borders on a parody of sexism): Virtue is a club-wielding man, while Vice is two women being trampled beneath Virtue’s feet. The statue stirred up so much public debate that the city held a [...]

In Censoring Art Gainesville State College President Violates Academic Freedom

By |2020-01-05T23:15:44-05:00February 17th, 2011|Blog|

Stanley Bermudez' Heritage? (above) had been displayed for just over two weeks at the Gainesville State College Gallery before Martha Nesbitt, the President of GSC, ordered its removal. The painting, which layers images of a Klansman and a lynching upon a Confederate battle flag, drew protests spurred by a post on Southern Heritage Alerts. The Heritage Preservation Association, which has [...]

By |2019-03-13T15:39:47-04:00January 21st, 2011|Blog|

ARTINFO reports: After outraging the art world, several of its funders, and a giant chunk of its constituency with its fatal decision to remove David Wojnarowicz’s “Fire in My Belly” from the National Portrait Gallery’s “Hide/Seek” show, the Smithsonian has chosen to respond to its critics in a dramatic, and rather odd, fashion: instead of returning the work to the [...]

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