Julia Farrington, Head of Arts at Index on Censorship, reports on the launch of Arstfex, the first international civil society network dedicated to promoting free expression for artists.
There are clearly parallels between investigative journalists and artists who reveal uncomfortable truths. But when controversy breaks, artists are much more exposed because they use their own personal language to tell the story, and bring their own experience and imagination into the narrative.
To cater for their needs, Artsfex, the first international civil society network dedicated to promoting free expression for artists, has recently been created.
"When the international community places emphasis on the protection of freedom of speech, it generally focuses on the freedom of media and literature," says Ole Reitov, Programme Manager at Freemuse and one of Artsfex's promoters.
International human rights organisations include repression of media and media professionals in their annual and country reports on freedom of expression. However, they rarely document repression of artists or cultural workers.
But artistic expression is under pressure from many sides and it is frequently in the centre of conflicts between different interest groups. This is where Artsfex comes in. We hope to be able to not only document violations but support artists at risk.
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