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Statement of the Board of Directors of the Andrei Sakharov Fund concerning the exhibition 'Forbidden Art - 2006'

On March 21, 2007, there took place a meeting of members of the Board of Directors of the Andrei Sakharov Fund (B.M. Bolotovskiy, L.B. Litinskiy, Yu. V. Samodurov) on the situation that has developed around the exposition "Forbidden Art - 2006" that is being exhibited at the exhibition hall of the Andrei Sakharov Museum and Public Center. A.E. Shabad, Chairman of the Museum's Council, L.A. Bazhanov, a member of the Council, A.V. Erofeev, the exhibit's curator, and other invited experts also took part in the discussion.

Following a detailed discussion of the issues concerning organization of the exhibit and the way it is being conducted, and the discussion provoked by the exhibition, we state that:
  1. Freedom of artistic expression in its various forms, and in untraditional forms as well, cannot be a subject of censorship, and this right is one of human rights that should be protected alongside with other basic human rights. Because of that, the challenges advanced by some church officials should be rejected as impermissible attempts at ideological dictate.

  2. While not claiming the right to pronounce judgment on artistic merits of the exhibit as a whole, we ought to refer to the high professional reputation of the exhibit's curator, A.V. Erofeev, head of the department of "Contemporary Trends" of the State Tretyakov Gallery, as well as to the same of those artists whose works he has selected for the exhibition. Mikhail Roshal-Fedorov (1957 - 2007), a recipient of the National Prize for Contribution to the National Contemporary Arts. Vyacheslav Sysoev (1937-2006), a famous cartoonist, who, in the Soviet times, in 1983, was awarded a two years labor camps term for his work. Ilya Kabakov (born 1933), the recipient of the "Golden Lion" prize at Venetian Biennale (1993), one of the most sought after painters in today's Russia. All painters represented at the exhibition are well known to those interested in contemporary art.

  3. Having taken into account that not every potential visitor to the exhibition can be expected to be prepared for the encounter with contemporary art, the exhibit organizers did everything they could to spare the visitor the shock of a sudden visual contact. In any case, nobody had the intention to offend anybody's religious beliefs or to degrade ethical values.

  4. A public discussion of the issues raised by the exhibition and by its critics will be held at the Museum, on March 28. Opponents of the exhibition are invited to participate.
March 26, 2007

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