„We already know what kind of utopian attention can be generated through prohibition.“
-János Sugár, Hungarian visual artist

„There shall be no taboos in art.“
-Erich Honecker, General Secretary of the Central Committee and Chairman of the Council of State of the GDR, 1971-1989

Artistic expression in general, and specifically rock music and its (audio)visual articulation have always made the ruling classes uneasy. Their reactions have ranged and still range from denial or cooptation to outright destruction of what‘s upsetting them. The latter can be achieved through censorship, classically understood as measures taken by a body politic or similar entity to to suppress unwanted statements. However, censorship is shifting, hard to grasp concept. It can take on many forms, even be used as a polemic term or ‚censoredness‘ as a mark of distinction.

This exhibition offers a first examination of different types of censorship and their ramifications using the concrete example of audiovisually presented rock music in film, television, music clips and their appropriation by the internet as well as new forms emerging specifically for the net. Popular music in particular has always been for the eye as well as the ear, this synthesis stemming from the age old dream of synaesthesia, the mixing of the senses. Is music‘s power enhanced, when tabbo-breaking images are married to already provocative lyrics? Or does visualization dilute the power of imagination?

We have chosen to focus on Hungary and the GDR/post-1990 Germany for a number reasons – to illustrate transformation processes from socialism to post-socialism, to counteract the monolithic conception of the so-called „East Bloc“ by contrasting the GDR, a static, repessive „really existing“ socialist society with the more dynamic and open one in Hungary and to present works, some of which have not been shown outside of their country of origin or not screened for a long time, seldom or even not at all.

Pre-publication or after the fact bans, absurd changes to the works, attempts to neutralize through cooptation – these are some of the tactics used by the powers that be – be it a centralistic one party state, ‚militant democracy‘ or rampant capitalism – to suppress undesirable images and sounds. The motivation can be preservation of power, intolerance, commercial considerations or simply fear. On the other hand, shouldn‘t a society not guarantee inner cohesion by preventing and punishing statements that could hurt minorities or impede the development of groups needing protection, such as young people? Wear do youth protection and political correctness (not in the pejorative sense but as protection from discriminatory speech patterns, hate speech and intolerance) end and where does restriction of freedom of speech and artistic expression begin? Do media restrictions really curb certain ideas or do they give certain works a cachet and significance they otherwise might not have had? Are youth protection and censorship moot in the age of internet? This exhibition hopes to encourage reflection and debate about these questions, recount tragic, outrageous or simply absurd censorship measures, demonstrate how these measures could be circumvented with cunning and courage and simply present interesting and entertaining music clips, film excerpts and TV appearances.