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UK: Artist ‘censored’ at Bangladeshi exhibition by Tower Hamlets Council

13 November 2013

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Artist ‘censored’ by Tower Hamlets Council at Bangladeshi exhibition
Saif Osmani with some of his work at the Brady Arts Centre Saif Osmani with some of his work at the Brady Arts Centre

Adam Barnett, Reporter Wednesday, November 13, 2013
1:37 PM

A Bangladeshi artist has criticised the council after he was told some of his work was too controversial for public display.


One of the pieces deemed "too contraversial" by Tower Hamlets Council One of the pieces deemed "too contraversial" by Tower Hamlets Council

Saif Osmani, 32, who was born in Whitechapel, was invited to show his work at the Brady Arts Centre in Hanbury Street as part of a season of Bangladeshi drama and art.

But when Mr Osmani arrived on November 2 he says he was told by a council arts officer that four of his pieces, which combine the Pakistani and Bangladeshi flags, might anger “hardliners” and would not be shown.

Mr Osmani, who lives in Stratford, said: “I was told that due to the political situation in Bangladesh I was unaware of what this series of paintings could trigger with the ‘hardliners’.

“I can’t see why these events happening thousands of miles away have started dictating this exhibition here in the UK.”

Tower Hamlets Council declined to say who its arts officer meant by “hardliners”.

Mr Osmani said the rest of his work was moved to a corner of the room near the toilet and was later hidden by a pull-up banner.

Akhtar Hussain, of art group Avid Art Agency, said: “It is an absolute disgrace that this level of censoring is taking place in the name of political correctness at an event which was supposed to celebrated British and Bangladeshi arts, but instead curtails the content of the art on display.”

A spokesman for the council said: “We are clear that there has been no censorship in relation to this exhibition.

“As with any public space the council does have the right to decide what is exhibited and in this case the pictures chosen were fully discussed and agreed between the artist and a member of the council arts team.”

The exhibition runs until November 22 at the Brady Arts and Community Centre in Hanbury Street.

P.S.

The above report is reproduced here in public interest and is for educational and non commercial use