Censorship comes in many forms and shapes. The 'typical' cases are those of top-down repression of artists and other dissident voices by political powers, or religious institutions with more or less explicit political authority, which deny permits, withdraw funding, or even resort to violent means to silence unwelcome voices. However, we increasingly see - or acknowledge - cases where citizens' groups united by a religious or political ideology rally against a specific artist or artwork.
It is part of the essence of art works, that what can be a work of excellence for one may be a stumble block for others. Add to this the hyper connectivity through social media, facilitating the union of a 'crowd' and the multiplication of a message, and the arena in which arts is being produced and received can turn into a battlefield. Conversely, it can also provide an opportunity to hear different voices and better understand the different positions.
In this time of blurred lines, several organisations around the world do wonderful work to combat censorship, enhance artistic freedom and support artists in danger, allowing them to continue to create even in extreme situations. We bow to their work, and hope they will be able to continue the crucial work they are doing. On our side, with this Fresh Perspectives issue, we decided to focus on 'newcomers' - professionals who are young, emerging, and/or not yet widely known, whose work at the intersection of arts and social change, whether by choice or by accident, has caused them troubles.
This publication combines the voices of courageous artists and experienced human rights defenders with short, selected testimonies from arts professionals who have replied to our online call for contributions. The precious experience and knowledge of American artist and human rights activist Siddharta Joag harmonizes those voices into a text that will hopefully be of interest for both experienced readers and professionals with limited knowledge of these topics.