• DK: Law against burning Qurans risks criminalizing Galschiøt art pieces
Expert warns leading galleries of political censorship at Art Basel HK
As you will see it is full speed ahead at Galschiots Gallery and workshop.
In Denmark, Galschiot has found himself in the center of a huge debate concerning a new Danish law, that is meant to stop right winged extremists from burning Qurans. But by criminalizing "improper treatment of Qurans and crucifixes" the government could end up criminalizing several well-known art pieces as well. Centrally in the debate is Galschiots sculpture of a Crucified Pregnant Teenager (In the Name of God - 2007), and his sculptures "10th Plague" (2001) (description DK) and his upcoming 'Spartacus-alley' might also be affected by this legislation.
So far, a journalist has been roaming the Danish Parliament with a small version of Galschiøt's Crucified Teenager, hoping to extract opinions from the politicians, while art institutions refrain the best they can from answering. The debate is far from over and you can read more later in the newsletter.
In Hong Kong, a 23-year-old law student has gotten 6 months in jail. Her 'crime' was planning to hang a lithographic banner of The Pillar of Shame from a bridge on the anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre. The judge referred to both the Pillar of Shame and Galschiøt and we are deeply affected by the situation. Hong Kong's decision to use the sculpture to imprison the young student and as evidence in the court case against our friends in the democracy movement in Hong Kong is detestable. Unfortunately, the student, Zeng Yuxuan, is one of many who have been imprisoned in Hong Kong for fighting for freedom of expression and the right to remember the Tiananmen massacre. More on the case here.
Meanwhile, there's unrest in Hong Kong's art market. The renowned art expert Eric WEAR has approached the absolute elite among the worlds art galleries. He suggests that they refrain from exhibiting at Art Basel in Hong Kong for fear of money laundering and political art censorship. He bases his concerns, among other things, on the case of the imprisoned student and the confiscation of the Pillar of Shame and other artworks critical of China. You can read more about all of this here.
We have a lot more going on, like a trip to Taiwan, exhibitions and theatre play at the gallery and possible Pillar of Shame exhibitions in both London and the European Parliament. But you can read about that in a future newsletter.
Best regards, Gallery Galschiøt's chief writer and the brave gallerists.
Denmark's New Law Against Burning Qurans
- Risk of Art Censorship
By Camilla Binau (intern)
In Denmark, there is currently a widespread debate about the consequences if a new law, which prohibits the burning og Qurans, comes into effect. The proposed legislation criminalizes "improper treatment of objects of significant religious importance to a faith community", a definition that both ordinary citizens and various experts are trying to interpret these days.
At the gallery, our own Jens Galschiøt has been participating in discussions in newspapers, TV and radio, about whether the new law has a censoring effect on the art scene in Denmark. Jens states that many artists probably won't self-censor due to the legislation, but many art institutions will opt out of works that challenge the law. Thereby contributing to political art censorship.
It remains unclear how artists should interpret the new proposal - what can an artist permit themselves? And what is the punishment for crossing the line?
This is especially relevant for Jens Galschiøt, who has had to reconsider previous artworks and their place in society if the new legislation comes into effect. He brought a smaller version of his sculpture 'In the Name of God (2007)' of a crucified teenager to a TV debate and it was subsequently taken to the parliament where a journalist confronted the country's parliamentarians with the question "Should this be banned?".
The question was either avoided or answered with "I hope not", and this uncertainty is part of the issue Galschiot addresses. It's difficult to draft legislation of this nature, that prevents wrongful mockery of religious minorities, while protecting artists' rights to produce art that provokes, questions religion, or simply uses religious iconography.
Spartacus Alley
Meanwhile, Galschiot is working on the project "Who is the Samaritan?", which might also become problematic in light of the Quran law. "Who is the Samaritan?" is an art installation that will consist of an alley of 10 individual crosses, each five meters tall, each mounted with a decomposing crucified person. On each cross, there will be a label with the crucified person's nationality, e.g., the Egyptian, the Burmese, etc. The idea is for the piece to represent an alternative version of the historical "Spartacus alley", which was an alley of crucified rebels. Spartacus led a rebellion against the Roman Empire in 73 BC, which some sources say aimed to abolish slavery. The revolt was not a success, and it was these people who ended up on the crosses. "Who is the Samaritan?" aims to shed light on the lost democratic fights, e.g., in Syria, Libya, and Afghanistan. The artwork also draws connections to the West. Many of those who lost the battle for democracy and human rights in their homeland are persecuted by their regime. But when they try to flee, the West closes its borders and its eyes, letting the refugees drown in the Mediterranean Sea.
Background - The monument in Hong Kong
In 1997, I erected an 8 meters tall monument in Hong Kong in memorial of the massacre. This monument is so far still the only memorial about the Tiananmen Square massacre on Chinese soil. It's important that artists, cultural groups, and others that defend human rights use their freedom of speech to tell the story of the massacre. I hope that you will help in doing this. 
32 years after the massacre, history seems to be tragically repeating itself. Now with Hong Kong as the epicenter for youth demanding their basic Human Rights and the Chinese Government forcefully taking down the youth. China has passed landmark legislation to force national security laws in Hong Kong, effectively crushing the city's autonomy, removing pro-democratic forces from the parliament and sending pro-democrats in jail.
China’s supression of free speech is spreading to Hong Kong. Galschiot is just one of many critics who have been denied entry. So the city is deprived of a cultural exchange that is taken for granted in all open democratic societies. The expulsions are a blatant violation of the principle of ‘One country – Two systems’ that was guaranteed as part of Hong Kong’s reunion with China in ‘97.
Throughout 2019 and 2020 massive demonstrations in Hong Kong took place. They fought for the basic human rights that China promised Hong Kong's citizens when they took over the country in 1997, But the peaceful demonstrations have been met with comprehensive violent force from Hong Kong's police.
Today, China has passed landmark legislation to force national security laws in Hong Kong, effectively crushing the city's autonomy, removing pro-democratic forces from the parliament and sending pro-democrats in jail.
A functioning democracy on Chinese ground, even though only in Hong Kong, has been an extremely important symbol for the more than one billion living in mainland China. With the new security law, this symbol is gone.
The Pillar of Shame was taken down by university of Hong Kong on Dec. 22, 2021. It was done in the cover of night, without any information to the sculptures rightful owner, Jens Galschiøt. The sculpture was locked in a container for 1½ years. Dialogue with University of Hong Kong to get access to it was to no avail.
On May 5th, 2023 Hong Kong Police seized the Pillar of Shame (of course without notifying Jens Galschiøt) to use it as evidence against the Democracy Movement.
An arrest warrent for Jens Galschiøt by Hong Kongs authorities was reported by Sing Tao Daily, On August 4th, 2023, with the intension of tranferrering him to mainland China.
Useful links
Download the documents about Tiananmen 1989
Contact Jens Galschiot: E-mail: aidoh@aidoh.dk, Internet: www.aidoh.dk, tel. +45 6618 4058, Banevaenget 22, DK-5270 Odense N
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About Jens Galschiøt
Danish artist Jens Galschiøt has created many socio-critical sculptures and installations through the years. Most often they are placed in public spaces around the world – as needle-sticks and silent reminders of a world that, in his opinion, is out of balance, and where exploitation of the world’s resources, inequality and migration are a constant part of the picture.
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9 meter tall banner litographs
Galschiot and former prime minister and Nato General Secretary Anders Fogh
Jens Galachiøt and people from China's democracy movement


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