Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Isis Threaten Sylvania: Banned from Passion for Freedom Exhibition.

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Isis Threaten Sylvania by the artist Mimsy is removed from Passion for Freedom exhibition at London’s Mall Galleries, after police raise security concerns. Below, Guardian critic Jonathan Jones reviews the artwork.

Isis Threaten Sylvania is a series of seven satirical light box tableaux featuring the children’s toys Sylvanian Families. It was removed from the Passion for Freedomexhibition at the Mall galleries after police raised concerns about the “potentially inflammatory content” of the work, informing the organisers that, if they went ahead with their plans to display it, they would have to pay £36,000 for security for the six-day show.

In Isis Threaten Sylvania, rabbits, mice and hedgehogs go about their daily life, sunning themselves on a beach, drinking at a beer festival or simply watching television, while the menacing figures of armed jihadis lurk in the background. “Far away, in the land of Sylvania, rabbits, foxes, hedgehogs, mice and all woodland animals have overcome their differences to live in harmonious peace and tranquility. Until Now,” reads the catalogue note. “MICE-IS, a fundamentalist Islamic terror group, are threatening to dominate Sylvania, and annihilate every species that does not submit to their hardline version of sharia law.

The Metro says,

The controversial piece shows loveable hedgehogs, rabbits, and mice living their everyday life in the fictional land of Sylvania – all while ISIS militants are seen lurking in the background.

A description for the piece in the exhibition catalogue reads: ‘Far away, in the land of Sylvania, rabbits, foxes, hedgehogs, mice and all woodland animals have overcome their differences to live in harmonious peace and tranquillity.

‘MICE-IS, a fundamentalist Islamic terror group, are threatening to dominate Sylvania, and annihilate every species that does not submit to their hard-line version of sharia law.’

The artwork was created by London based artist Mimsy, who reacted angrily to suggestions that her piece was not ‘real art’.

I love my freedom’, she said.

‘I’m aware of the very real threat to that freedom from Islamic fascism and I’m not going to pander to them or justify it like many people on the left are doing.

Explaining the police decision, a gallery spokeswoman said: ‘Mall galleries was approached by Westminster Police who expressed concern about the potential risks of including Mimsy’s work.

They made it clear there would be an additional policing cost if the work was included in the exhibition and indicated this cost would be passed on either to the artist or to the exhibition organiser.’

Background to the pictures (Metro March 2015).

All is not well in Sylvania…

An artist going by the name Mimsy has created a scathing satire of ISIS, and the west’s reaction to the terrorist group, using Sylvanian Family dolls.

The project, which is called MICIS, comprises of two images depicting the happy, care-free world of Sylvania, with threatening figures clad in black clothes and carrying guns and ISIS flags, lurking in the background.

Talking exclusively to Metro.co.uk, Mimsy explained what motivated her to create this project: ‘I was inspired by the theocratic barbarism of ISIS, the obvious fear of terrorism in the west, and the neo-liberal denial of any actual threat.’

Mimsy then went on the tell us why she chose to express these views with Sylvanian Family dolls.

She told us: ‘I played with Sylvanian Families frequently as a child of the early 90s, and for some reason thought they were the perfect depiction of innocence.’

She went on: ‘there is also a one-dimensional childish element to the image that perfectly summarises the mentality of religious fundamentalists. They are blowing themselves up and murdering for a cause that is as so flat, thin and childish, it may as well be depicted as if it were a toy set in an ARGOS catalogue.’

As the staff of Charlie Hebdo learnt in the most horrific of way, religious fundamentalists don’t like satire. So it’s hardly surprising Mimsy has decided to remain anonymous.

When asked to give us more information about herself, the artist simply said: ‘I’m a person who loves the free world, loves democracy (with all it’s flaws) and most of all loves satire.’

We love the Sylvanians.

We love you Mimsy. 

Shame on the Censors!

Written by Andrew Coates

September 27, 2015 at 11:17 am

4 Responses

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  1. “We love the Sylvanians”

    As the shops start filling up with Xmas goodies, Andrew starts dropping hints. So, if anyone can’t think what to get him…

    http://www.argos.co.uk/static/Browse/ID72/33006252/c_1/1|category_root|Toys+and+games|33006252/r_001/1|Brands|Sylvanian+Families|1.htm

    Francis

    September 27, 2015 at 12:27 pm

  2. Can you eat them in salads?

    Andrew Coates

    September 27, 2015 at 3:50 pm

  3. The One Law For All campaign has disassociated itself from the Passion For Freedom organisation on the grounds that it feels that it is adopting a right-wing agenda. Here’s its statement:

    Passion for Freedom Art Festival is in its 7th year this week. The Art Competition was initially begun by One Law for All to promote secular and universal values, one law for all, and equal rights for all citizens.

    For two years now, however, One Law for All is no longer associated with the festival after it took positions that were opposed to that of the organisation’s. In November 2013, organisers introduced Tommy Robinson, former head of the far-Right English Defence League, as a special guest at a panel discussing a film Silent Conquest, which won an award at the festival. The film placed collective blame on Muslims who were deemed to be “conquering” Europe. Our then Spokesperson, Anne Marie Waters, was at the discussion but did not dispute the film nor Robinson’s introduction despite our organisation’s very clear position against the far-Right. Waters was asked to resign that same month.

    In 2014, One Law for All Spokesperson, Maryam Namazie, who had spoken at every art festival since its inception did not attend the event and informed organisers that One Law for All would no longer be working with Passion for Freedom. In 2014, the festival, which professed to be non-political, was sponsored by the Israeli embassy, amongst others.

    These changes in politics began to take hold after the festival was taken over by volunteers Agnieszka Kolek and Mariana Fox. Their perspective is similar to the far-Right point of view that sees “Muslims” as a homogeneous community “conquering” western societies. In fact, “Muslims” or those labelled as such include progressive and anti-Islamist believers and non-believers. Those deemed “Muslims” are often the first victims of Islamism and at the frontlines of resistance to it. Moreover, this point of view supports – without question – the Israeli state at the expense of the Israeli and Palestinian people.

    In their latest letter sent in September 2015, Passion for Freedom speaks of “freedom for our Western societies” as if freedom is for the West alone and not a universal concept fought for and defended the world over.

    Freedom is always the freedom of dissenters (as Rosa Luxemburg has said) – and those dissenters include many “Muslims” and non-Westerners. Whilst Passion for Freedom uses films and art by non-Western artists who face great risks, they push a clash of civilisations narrative (in their defence of “our Western societies”) which effectively undermines the very artists being showcased.

    One Law for All is outraged that an art competition it started and which was meant to unite humanity via art against the religious-Right is morphing into a tool of the Christian-Right.

    Dr Paul

    September 28, 2015 at 12:10 am

  4. “One Law for All is outraged that an art competition it started and which was meant to unite humanity via art against the religious-Right is morphing into a tool of the Christian-Right.”

    Outraged, maybe – but should it be surprised?

    Francis

    September 28, 2015 at 9:26 am


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