NO 'ISLAMIC' ART HERE, WE ARE BULGARIAN!

NO 'ISLAMIC' ART HERE, WE ARE BULGARIAN!

Mon, 02/24/2020 - 09:57

Oddly, Bulgaria appears to be the odd man out in the free world in matters of... art. No, this is not a question of censorship of unabashed nudity or controversial political viewpoints.

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© BTA and Anthony Georgieff

This is not even a case of the Czech artist, David Cerny, who infuriated the Bulgarians so much with his Entropa installation in Brussels, in 2009, that the Sofia government formally requested the section of the artwork depicting our motherland as... a Turkish squatting toilet be enshrouded in a black veil because it caused offence. The Germans and the Dutch, who had perhaps overwhelming reasons to feel insulted (the installation depicted Germany as a spaghetti junction of motorways forming a swastika), never said a word.

Fast forward 11 years and there you have the supposedly liberal and pro-Western government of Boyko Borisov (the one which keeps getting elected because it promises to protect Bulgarians from Communism) walking out of a deal to put up an exhibition of Bulgarian art entitled Art and Cultures in Bulgaria in the 16th-18th Centuries at the Louvre in Paris. The reason? It would have been displayed in a Louvre section dedicated to... Islamic art.

The talks to organise the exhibition, which would have included Orthodox icons and other objects, date back to 2012. As the time for the show approached some "academicians" belonging to the notorious Bulgarian Academy of Sciences insisted Bulgaria should cancel the exhibition because it was a "French speculation" and "manipulated scientific fact." They were joined by the Holy Synod, the governing body of the Orthodox Church. The high priests issued a statement they would not deliver their icons to an "Islamic exhibition."

Predictably, the Internal Macedonian Organisation, a governing party led by the current defence minister, billed the show insulting if not sacrilegious.

So, GERB's Culture Minister Boil Banov informed French Ambassador Florence Robinе the exhibition was off for good – and for a "good" reason. Instead, the Bulgarian government would be proposing another exhibition about, say, prehistory or the glory of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom.

Issue 161
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