The Hate Against Art: Ways of Seeing Revisited
Last year the festival showed Ways of Seeing, a groundbreaking theatre play that addresses important issues related to power and racism. The consequences have been severe for theatre director Pia Maria Roll and the theatre group. In Israel, actor and theater director Einat Weizman has been called a ‘killer of babies,’ because she addresses human rights violations committed against Palestinians. Both Einat and Pia has been heavily criticized and pressured by their own governments, simply for putting up theatre plays that questions the status quo.
Pia Maria Roll and the theatre group were attacked not just by cyber bullies but by several politicians in power, including the prime minister. The Culture Minister of Israel has publicly stated that theatres will be blacklisted from public support if they put up Einat Weizman’s plays. They have both experienced threats and harassment as a result of this pressure. The organization Freemuse writes in 2020 that emerging trends in Europe represent a real danger to artistic freedom. Rising populism is taking a stronger hold and a rhetoric which often enforces traditionalist values is providing a groundswell in which limits on freedom of artistic expression are legitimised.
Is hatred against art growing? Reactionary forces have always criticized alternative art expressions, but is it getting worse? How do Einat Weizman and Pia Maria Roll experience this reactionary turn? Why is art considered so threatening? And how do we counter this limitation of freedom of speech?
Einat Weizman, Actor and Director, Israel. Writer of the play Okkupasjonens fanger (Prisoners of Occupation).
Pia Maria Roll, Theatre Director, Norway. Director of Ways of Seeing.
MODERATOR Sofia Rana, City Council Representative for the Red Party in Oslo and anti-racist activist.