LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM
20 Great Guildford St, London SE1 0FD, next to Tate Modern
26 artists from 12 different countries.
Many people are waiting patiently in front of the gallery. Everybody wants to get in, the rest are watching the movie through the massive glass window. The hall is full. On the podium the winner of the public award is announced. “In more than 30 Islamic countries being a homosexual is banned,” says the winner of the public award, Steve Rosenthal. “Very often we encounter the situation where gays are imprisoned, sentenced to be flogged or how it is shown on my work, just killed. Homosexuality is banned and those who have such a tendency are persecuted or arrested. It is a pure Middle Age approach; we cannot compare it to that of Europe. I’m very happy that the Passion for Freedom Festival is happening and maintains our biggest value, freedom. Thank you for the award.”
Another award was given to the authors of a book, The Hidden Blue Print of Freedom, Anthony and Thomas Pototschnik. “The book emerged during two years of research, with my brother and with the support of the university milieu we did a case study, which resulted in the diagram showing how freedom appeared since the beginning of civilization and how it can easily disappear. Thank you for the award and enjoy the book,” says one of the brothers. All the books were sold out during the evening, but they are still available next week on the internet.
“Participation in such a competition is the act of solidarity with artists and all people whose rights to express freely are limited. We don’t want privileges, we want freedom. There are many beautiful and wise women here, it’s an honor to take part in this event,” says Roland Okon, author of black and white photography “Blind” – honorable mention.
This year, around 500 people gathered during the Passion for Freedom festival. “Artists came from different parts of the world: the United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, Italy, Russia, Poland, the Czech Republic, Nepal, Mexico, America, Afghanistan, shall I continue?” asks Agnieszka Kolek, curator of the exhibition, with a smile , “Iran and Israel. Artists know how important it is to have freedom of speech and freedom of women.” The festival takes place each year in London and is attracting more and more attention.
The honored guest of the festival, Jafar Panahi, was not able to come. He couldn’t attend the private view, because of his films. He was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment and a 20 year ban on artistic activity, which precludes giving any form of interview to the Iranian or foreign media, as well as not being allowed to leave the country. He wasn’t able to escape. His movie “This is not the film” was greeted with applause by the audience gathered in the gallery.
“We stand here today with thousands of artists across the world that are imprisoned, harassed, tortured and even killed mainly for speaking up and speaking the truth.” says Maryam Namazie, Iranian founder of the European movement, One Law for All. “It’s not just artists in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia and Syria, countries under Islamic rule that face these threats. We are having this festival here in London where it’s obviously freer for our artists but it’s still not completely free. There is a lot of censorship, a lot of intimidation that takes place against artists. From cancellations of exhibitions to pressure not to address issues that are called taboo. And of course religion is the most taboo subject and particularly Islam. Islam is the most taboo subject.
There is a huge attempt to silence people from criticizing and questioning Islam. Nothing is more important than criticizing religion. That’s how society has advanced through the ages. Today nothing is more important than criticizing Islam and Islamism.”
The source of the festival’s success lies in the idea that artists can be very powerful because they can represent issues around freedom in a beautiful and engaging way. It’s true that Freedom is the foundation of our happiness. It is a profound value which we gained over hundreds of years and we should protect it. Where the government and politics failed, the artists will manage.
1st Prize – SANDRA ACKERMANN for No man`s land
2nd Prize – MAGDALENA CZUBAK VLASAK for No title (and not needed ones are needed)
3rd Prize – MARIO RAOLI for Triathlon (video)
Public Award – STEVE ROSENTHAL for No Homosexuals
Special Award – ANTON POTOTSCHNIK, THOMAS POTOSCHNIKfor The Hidden Blueprint of Freedom
SANDRA ACKERMANN, GERMANY/GREAT BRITAIN | KARIN ROY ANDERSSON, SWEDEN | ESKILD BECK, DENMARK | MILENA BULJAN, GREAT BRITAIN | VICTORIA BURGHER, GREAT BRITAIN | EDNA CANTORAL ACOSTA, MEXICO | MAGDALENA CZUBAK VLASAK, USA | FIONA DENT, GREAT BRITAIN | ARINA GORDIENKO, GREAT BRITAIN | HEATHER MCDONALD, GREAT BRITAIN |ROLAND OKON, POLAND | DESPINA PAPADOPOULOU, GERMANY | POLINA PAKHOMOVA,GREAT BRITAIN | STEVE ROSENTHAL, GREAT BRITAIN | FLORA ROBERTSON, GREAT BRITAIN | AXELLE RUSSO, GREAT BRITAIN | GOVINDA SAH, NEPAL/GREAT BRITAIN |KARINE SCHNEIDER, FRANCE | FIANNE STANFORD, GREAT BRITAIN | PAULA STEVENS-HOARE, GREAT BRITAIN | ZOE SUA KAY,GREAT BRITAIN | VALERIYA VYGODNAYA, GREAT BRITAIN | EWA ZASADA, POLAND/AUSTRIA | ARTUR ZARCZYNSKI, POLAND/GREAT BRITAIN | MARIO RAOLI, ITALY
ART WORKS SOLD
– SANDRA ACKERMANN – “No man´s land”
– VALERIYA VYGODNAYA – “Snow White among the people”