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.

Wilson Play Will Go On!

By |2019-03-07T23:29:00-05:00January 20th, 2011|Blog|

Overruling a decision by the schools' superintendent, the Waterbury, Conn Board of Education allowed a high-school production of August Wilson's play,  Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, to go on. Superintendent David L. Snead had opposed the production, saying that the school and educators should not be staging a play that might encourage use of the word "nigger." The play will [...]

LA MOCA – the false dichotomy between censorship and sensitivity

By |2019-03-07T21:56:26-05:00December 20th, 2010|Blog|

The familiar "he said/ she said" binary so beloved of the media has shaped the controversy over LA MOCA's whitewashing of a political mural as an opposition between those who define it as censorship and those who define it as sensitivity. Here is the LA Times: “Censorship,” some cry, referring to Deitch’s removal of Blu’s antiwar mural on the north [...]

Hundreds Protest Smithsonian Censorship

By |2016-01-14T12:58:59-05:00December 20th, 2010|Blog|

This Sunday, Dec 19th, hundreds of artists, curators, queer and free speech activists, as well as other supporters of free speech gathered in front of Metropolitan Museum to take part in a rally demanding that the Smithsonian return the censored video by artist David Wojnarowicz, “A Fire In My Belly,” to the National Portrait Gallery’s Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in [...]

LA MOCA whitewashing – is it censorship?

By |2019-03-15T15:33:15-04:00December 15th, 2010|Blog|

A mural announcing LA MOCA’s upcoming Art in the Streets exhibition, a survey of street art over the past four decades, was painted over - upon orders from the Museum - shortly after it appeared on December 8th. Was this an act of censorship or an exercise of legitimate curatorial control? The answer may depend on your definition of both terms.

NPG Censorship Protest in New York City – Sunday, December 19th, 1:00 PM

By |2020-01-03T13:39:00-05:00December 13th, 2010|Blog|

Stop the Censorship! Put the Wojnarowicz video back! Protest in New York City - Sunday, December 19th, 1:00 PM (details below) Send a message to the Smithsonian Institution and all of its museums: Stop the Censorship. Late in November the Smithsonian's head, G. Wayne Clough, did something unconscionable and shocking - he ordered the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC [...]

NCAC Censored!

By |2020-01-03T13:39:00-05:00December 8th, 2010|Blog|

Censorship incidents on the web are more and more common, but it's still rare when they happen to an anti-censorship organization like the NCAC. Network Solutions, a company providing web services, has threatened to remove TheFileroom.org, an interactive archive of worldwide censorship cases administered by the National Coalition Against Censorship, unless a photograph of two naked children by Nan Goldin, [...]

Protest against Censorship at National Portrait Gallery

By |2016-01-15T10:36:39-05:00December 3rd, 2010|Blog|

This is from an attendant at the protest organized by Transformer on Thursday, Dec. 2nd: The protest's silence was very effective.  The rows standing mute along the entire width of north steps of the Portrait Gallery for about 25 minutes until the museum closed at 7:00 was eloquent and impactful in a way beyond the quantity of supporters or passion [...]

Production of to Kill a Mockingbird will go forward!

By |2019-03-07T23:28:49-05:00December 3rd, 2010|Blog|

Victory: the Flagler Palm Coast High School production of Harper Lee’s TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD will be staged in the auditorium on February 24, 25, and 26 (two shows). It will be staged AS WRITTEN! The production was canceled last month by the school's principal, who was concerned about the use of the word "nigger" by characters in the play.

David Wojnarowicz – censored once again

By |2016-01-15T10:35:30-05:00December 1st, 2010|Blog|

If David Wojnarowicz were alive to witness his video, Fire in the Belly, attacked by the Catholic League and removed from the National Portrait Gallery, he probably would not have been surprised. Wojnarowicz’s work received its share of controversy during the culture wars of 1989-90. His essay Postcards from America: X-rays From Hell caused National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) [...]

National Portrait Gallery Removes David Wojnarowicz Video from Exhibition

By |2020-01-03T13:38:58-05:00December 1st, 2010|Blog|

Yesterday (Nov 30th), in response to complaints from the Catholic League and several Republican representatives the National Portrait Gallery decided to remove Fire in My Belly, a video by multimedia artist David Wojnarowicz. The video was part of Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture, an exhibition exploring issues of sexuality and specifically gay sexuality (thought the official description of [...]

Florida High School Cancels Production of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’

By |2019-03-13T15:39:57-04:00November 5th, 2010|Blog|

A Florida high school production of a play based on Harper Lee’s 1960 Pulitzer prize-winning novel about racial conflict, To Kill a Mockingbird, has been cancelled. At the center of the controversy that prompted the cancellation was the historically necessary use of the word “nigger”. The reason “nigger” is a word that carries such painful weight, of course, is due [...]

Kudos to YouTube

By |2020-01-03T13:38:45-05:00October 14th, 2010|Blog|

Earlier this year we reported on YouTube's removal and subsequent restoration of videos by dance-artist Amy Greenfield. At that point we voiced serious concerns about the lack of an appeals process for individuals who believe that their work has been unfairly removed from the site as well as the absence of "art" in the list of exceptions to the YouTube [...]

Controversial Artwork Vandalized in Colorado

By |2020-01-03T13:38:39-05:00October 7th, 2010|Blog|

What began as a heated protest over Enrique Chagoya’s artwork at the Loveland Museum in Colorado has ended in vandalism.  A disgruntled woman ripped into Chagoya’s controversial lithograph “The Misadventures of the Romantic Cannibals” after she busted the artwork’s plexiglass case with a crowbar. City council members, religious groups and individuals had hoped that the public pressure caused by the [...]

Fear and censorship: Or, how strong is our commitment to free speech?

By |2020-01-03T13:37:40-05:00May 10th, 2010|Blog|

Violence against those who create and disseminate controversial words and images is not new. But for the last couple of centuries, commitment to free speech has trumped fear of violence in Western liberal democracies. As late as 1989, Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses continued to be published and read in the face of a fatwa issued against its author and in [...]

Free speech Surrendered: Corpus Christi at Tarleton State

By |2019-03-15T15:31:28-04:00March 29th, 2010|Blog|

The cancellation of Terrence McNally’s play Corpus Christi by Tarleton State University, under pressure from the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights and others, is an affront to academic freedom and First Amendment principles of free speech. The play was denounced by Tarleton’s president, Dominic Dottavio, who called it “crude and irreverent.”  Texas Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst opined that [...]

(In)decent exposure? Nudes in art

By |2020-01-03T13:37:11-05:00February 26th, 2010|Blog|

Representations of nudes in painting, sculpture, and photography frequently become subject to controversy. The law, however, is clear: simple nudity (that is nudity outside of a sexually explicit situation) has full constitutional protection. (That does not mean that public officials are always aware of this as a current case in Temecula, CA, testifies.) But what about a live [...]

Temecula City Managers Remove Nude Artwork from Visual Expression 2010 Show

By |2019-03-14T18:07:47-04:00February 17th, 2010|Blog|

In January, artwork by Jeff Hebron, which had been selected for inclusion in a Temecula, CA juried art exhibit (Visual Expressions 2010), was removed upon the request of the City Management. The problem: the painting depicted a nude figure. The gallery where the piece was to be shown is a city-owned space, which is why there are serious [...]

Google Supports Free Speech in China … but not elsewhere

By |2020-01-03T13:37:03-05:00February 3rd, 2010|Blog|

LIGHT OF THE BODY (segment) from Amy Greenfield on Vimeo. Google has taken a firm position on censorship in China, yet, ironically, Google willingly and actively censors. It censors so as to conform to local laws, but it also censors deliberately and voluntarily by restricting speech on, for instance, YouTube (fully owned by Google). A recent example of the breadth [...]

Consequences of the Google China conflict: Hillary Clinton for an open Internet

By |2019-03-14T17:36:41-04:00January 26th, 2010|Blog|

In an impassioned speech at the Newseum in Washington on January 21, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attacked countries who limit the free circulation of peaceful dissent and religious ideas on the Internet and those who use the Internet for the "darker purposes" of promoting violence and making sexual advances on minors. She also spoke about the increasing concern over [...]

Champions of free speech?: the Case of Google in China

By |2020-01-03T13:36:34-05:00January 21st, 2010|Blog|

When, a few years ago, Google agreed to China’s restrictions on the circulation of information and started google.cn, it claimed that “increased access to information for people in China and a more open Internet outweighed [Google’s] discomfort in agreeing to censor some results.” Now, suddenly, Google is threatening to reverse its policy and close google.cn. This change of mind came [...]

Censorship Guts New Haven Art Exhibition

By |2016-01-14T15:35:01-05:00November 25th, 2009|Blog|

An upcoming exhibition at The John Slade Ely House for Contemporary Art in New Haven, organized by the Orchard Street Shul Cultural Heritage Artists Project, is overshadowed by the organizers’ decision to censor one of the artworks in the show. After numerous requests that Richard Kamler, one of the participating artists, modify parts of his installation, and a month before [...]

Public Speech at the Mercy of a Heckler’s Veto

By |2019-03-14T17:35:51-04:00November 16th, 2009|Blog|

A billboard with the words "Don't Believe In God? You are not alone" was removed from a site in downtown Cincinnati because of threats received by the owner of the site. Even though both the freedom of religion (including the freedom to not believe in god) and freedom of expression are among the founding principles of the U.S., there are [...]

Under Pressure from Police, Parole Board Stops Levasseur from Speaking at UMass Amherst

By |2020-01-03T13:36:19-05:00November 12th, 2009|Blog|

After being dis-invited upon pressure from Governor Deval Patrick and then re-invited by a faculty group, Ray Luc Levasseur is now stopped from speaking at The University of Massachusetts - Amherst because his parole board refused to let him leave Maine. The parole board has not given any reasons for this decision, but two facts make us suspect it was [...]

The Chamber of Commerce Should Not Be Immune to Political Satire

By |2020-01-05T23:18:32-05:00October 29th, 2009|Blog|

On Monday, October 19th, the Yes Men, a group of artist/political activists, set up a mock website that looked like the Chamber of Commerce’s, and held a mock press conference where they announced that the Chamber was shifting its opposition to serious efforts to address global warming. Major news sources were fooled into reporting the story. In response, the Chamber [...]

Good intentions – dire consequences: US v. Stevens

By |2020-01-03T13:36:08-05:00October 9th, 2009|Blog|

Which of these images would also be illegal if a 1999 law, heard on October 6, 2009 by the US Supreme Court, were to be upheld? Remember – we are talking about images, not the acts themselves. video from circus companies showing workers hooking elephants and striking tigers; footage from factory farms where farmers are beating sick turkeys to death [...]

Presidential Speech Treated as R-rated Movie

By |2020-01-03T13:35:26-05:00September 18th, 2009|Blog|

Under an onslaught of vocal protests that President Obama’s “stay in school and study hard” speech was a means to “indoctrinate” children into “socialist” values and the President’s political “agenda” schools and whole school districts decided not to show the speech. For a partial list of schools and school districts that have canceled the speech click here. Nobody equipped with [...]

Nudity in Art is Not Indecent Exposure

By |2019-03-14T18:09:55-04:00August 31st, 2009|Blog|

The arrest of Zach Hyman’s nude model during a photo shoot at the Metropolitan Museum of Art was predictable in spite of the irony of the location. Whereas marble and oil nudes are usually left at peace (not always though: art containing nudity is a frequent target of censorship), a living woman posing naked for an artist is guilty of [...]

AT&T Blocks (then Unblocks) img.4chan.org

By |2020-01-03T13:34:08-05:00July 27th, 2009|Blog|

This morning NCAC woke up to a mailbox full of hundreds of complaints against AT&T’s blocking access to img.4chan.org. The mass outrage over AT&T’s action had by that time also reached the company and led to the rapid unblocking of the site. AT&T denied any attempt to censor based on content and issued the following statement justifying the block as [...]

LA Supervisor Rails Against Opera Festival

By |2019-03-07T21:56:06-05:00July 16th, 2009|Blog|

Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich is demanding that Los Angeles Opera overhaul the Ring Festival L.A. planned for next year, calling Richard Wagner a, “Nazi composer.” He is, of course, wrong. The Nazi's may have used Wagner, but Wagner was already long dead. Yet, the issue remains, Wagner held rather despicable anti-semitic views (along with the majority of his [...]

Nude Sculpture Removed from Public View in Michigan

By |2019-03-13T15:04:25-04:00June 25th, 2009|Blog|

This week, “Walking Man,” a sculpture of a nude man, was removed from the public space in front of the Anton Art Center in mount Clemens, MI, because of individual complaints. That city officials should respond to the complaints of a few vocal community members by removing an art work from a public space is a disturbing violation of both [...]

Art becomes a peep show at Shasta College

By |2019-03-13T15:08:47-04:00May 12th, 2009|Blog|

Debbie Smith’s painting, “See It Go” was selected for inclusion in the year end student art show at Shasta Community College in Redding, CA. Styled on the mid-20th century-era “Dick and Jane” books, it depicts two children playing outdoors and a man wearing an open blue bathrobe exposing his sexual arousal. According to press reports, “in response to [...]

Provost of UNCW resigns, short tenure overshadowed by censorship

By |2019-03-07T22:40:56-05:00April 7th, 2009|Blog|

Brian Chapman, Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, resigned this week after a less than a year-long tenure. The resignation came shortly after the UNCW Faculty Senate passed a motion admonishing the UNCW administration for not consulting with the Women's Resource Center, Faculty Senate Steering Committee and other interested parties before requesting [...]

Porn censorship at the University of Maryland

By |2016-01-14T15:47:55-05:00April 3rd, 2009|Blog|

Chill. Porn is a genre like any other – science fiction, crime drama, horror. Why should the pleasure derived from viewing it be a guiltier pleasure from the one derived from viewing serial killers slashing throats? To each, after all, her own. (And, yes, women watch porn too). Porn is also – whether you like it or not – protected [...]

BGSU art censorship update

By |2016-01-14T15:49:35-05:00March 25th, 2009|Blog|

In an email to faculty today BGSU Interim Provost Mark Gromko stated that “the piece was initially removed so that […] legal review could occur.” Apparently BGSU administrators were wondering whether “the sculpture constituted child pornography or breached restrictions on depictions of child abuse under Ohio law.” As is easy to ascertain, child pornography and depictions of child abuse both [...]

NCAC’s statement on the removal of sculpture from public university exhibit

By |2016-01-14T15:50:04-05:00March 23rd, 2009|Blog|

Statement from the National Coalition Against Censorship Regarding the Recent Removal of an Artwork from an Exhibition at BGSU Firelands’ Little Gallery The recent removal of artwork by James Parlin from an exhibition of sculpture in the Little Gallery at Bowling Green State University Firelands is an unacceptable violation of the academic freedom to openly discuss ideas and social problems [...]

Teens Sending Nude Photos of Themselves or “Sexting”

By |2020-01-03T13:20:02-05:00February 24th, 2009|Blog|

A survey of 1,280 teens and young adults conducted by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unwanted Pregnancy and CosmoGirl.com finds that 22% of girls and 18% of boys said they have electronically sent or posted nude or semi-nude images. The impulse to make a nude self-portrait is neither new, nor specific to kids. In the introduction to a [...]

Board decides to restrict access to ‘Sex for Busy People,’ ‘The Lesbian Kama Sutra,’ ‘The Joy of Sex’ and ‘The Joy of Gay Sex’

By |2019-03-07T22:39:53-05:00February 20th, 2009|Blog|

In January, we reported on a Topeka, Kansas woman’s push to move books about sexuality to a restricted section. As Rebecca wrote then, “Restricting books may seem like a fine compromise, but it has a serious chilling effect on library patrons’ reading selection, and adopting such a policy would permit one person to enforce her views on everyone else.” Yesterday, [...]

Self-Censorship on Campus

By |2019-03-07T22:39:40-05:00February 14th, 2009|Blog|

A new book, Closed Minds?: Politics and Ideology in American Universities (Brookings Institution Press, 2008), by Bruce L. R. Smith, Jeremy D. Mayer, and A. Lee Fritschler examines claims that America’s universities are dominated by faculty members who indoctrinate students in a leftist or liberal ideology and, instead found evidence of an “emerging risk-averse campus climate that threatens to impoverish [...]

Student Art Censored from Modesto Gallery Show

By |2019-03-13T15:16:06-04:00February 10th, 2009|Blog|

The art work of four art students at Ceres’ Central Valley High School (Ceres, CA) was rejected from the annual Young Masters Art Show. The Art Show, hosted by the Mistlin Gallery in downtown Modesto, CA, features the work of young people ages 1 through 18. Art teachers are allowed to submit 20 pieces (two per student), with all entries [...]

Self-Censorship on Campus

By |2019-03-07T22:39:45-05:00February 9th, 2009|Blog|

A new book examines claims that America’s universities are dominated by faculty members who indoctrinate students in a leftist or liberal ideology and, instead found evidence of an “emerging risk-averse campus climate that threatens to impoverish the intellectual vitality of undergraduate education.”

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