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L'Internationale statement in support of the decision to open "La Bestia y el soberano" (The Beast and the Sovereign)

The Beast and the Sovereign

Opening of the exhibition The Beast and the Sovereign, MACBA, Barcelona.

The current crisis In MACBA around the La Bestia y el soberano (The Beast and the Sovereign) exhibition demonstrates again how the image, provocative or even crude, is a powerful force to break open and understand the limits of representation and the pains of social discord. It is the complex craft of contemporary cultural institutions to negotiate this important force, especially in a time of political and economic crisis when tolerance is low. The diverse and conflicting effects of artworks are never black or white, but institutions cannot avoid to make binary decisions on what to show and what not. There is no protocol for making these complex choices, but the leading principle should be to strengthen the civil community in its endless exchange between majorities and minorities. L'Internationale will therefore always defend the critical imagination of art as a catalyst in strengthening the notions of participative citizenship and democracy through the civic institutions.

The new decision of MACBA to re-open the exhibition is in line with this basic ethical principle and we greatly respect and support our colleague director Bartomeu Mari for his courage to change his initial decision to allow the public to make their own judgements and enable them to articulate their opinions.

We recognize the complicated terrain our colleague had to manoeuvre and understand the initial decision to not open the exhibition as the unfortunate outcome of haste and the increased pressure on public art institutions in Europe to curtail the space for critical or unconventional positions. However, in a moment where the capacity to express critique is in such a fragile state in the world at large, the freedom to express and exchange opinions has to be defended and we cannot avoid taking risks during this defence. We therefore appreciate that our colleague has also offered his resignation to the board of MACBA after such an incident.

We cannot yet know the consequences of the events of the past days, but we are certain that the visibility that is granted to both the work and the exhibition will help us to preserve, now and in the future, the possibility of imagination as a catalyst for recognising our co-dependence and the value of lives lived in common.

The views and opinions published here mirror the principles of academic freedom and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of the L'Internationale confederation and its members.

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