One Can Not Be Too Careful

Gallery Lock-In is a makeshift gallery space tucked away in the backstreets behind the beachfront. A converted garage on a residential street corner, the low-key setting suited the theme of the exhibition.

A showcase of a broad range of talent in mixed and multi-media with gripping stories to boot.

Curated by an international team including Max Stropoc, Darya Apahonchich, Ania PsH, and Aliaxey Tolstou, One Cannot Be Too Careful showcases art tackling the themes of censorship – censorship in art, censorship of women’s bodies, censorship of the media, and political censorship in a climate of unrest in Russia.

Outside the garage, curator Ania PsH sat with her daughter, and was eager to introduce me to the works on show, starting with a series of short films on loop. The films ranged from informative to disturbing, to funny. Ania’s daughter had done the voiceover of one of the films: Why the Flowers Don’t Grow Through the Pavement,(Julia Kurdi, Valentina Egorova, Leda Garina, Olyen, Lisa Rechetova, Dmitry Biryukov) an infographic about the attainment gap between women and men in work and education. Russian Death (Anastasiya Emelyanova) saw a woman dressed as Death singing a traditional lullaby to a baby cradled in her arms… with the face of Vladimir Putin.

Putin’s face featured a lot in this exhibition, Ania told me about the dissatisfaction amongst the people about his leadership, and quiet hopes that Putin would die. These hopes were imagined as a graphic novel / poem, Putin’s Five Deaths (Aksinia and Veronika Saricheva), who welded simple drawing and writing style deftly to such a serious subject matter.

Other works showed newspaper front pages censored with glitter, a beautifully detailed embroidery of the artist’s own disability, exploring self-censorship, and a broken mirror surrounded by bright, abstract portraits critiquing beauty standards.

The second room held more harrowing content. Photographer Katerina Shmidtke’s series of portraits, Prayers for Freedom, pictured survivors of Syrian prison. The portraits were captioned with quotes telling stories of unjust arrest, unfair trial, and the tortures and assaults they underwent. This challenging and incredibly moving content highlights the importance that art has in bringing justice to victims of conflict, often those who have done little more than being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Though it looks lowly from the outside, the content is high quality and important. This is a showcase of a broad range of talent in mixed and multi-media with gripping stories to boot. The show has closed at the fringe, but be sure to catch it where it tours next.

Reviews by Natasia Patel

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The Blurb

This international exhibition aims to explore the phenomena of censorship and self-censorship in contemporary art. Previously censored artworks will be exhibited together with descriptions and documentation of the censorship acts. Following the exhibitions in Britain, Belarus and Russia that dealt mainly with political censorship and freedom of expression; this Brighton event will be a special feminist version, focusing on issues of censorship in the context of women’s art.