A survey: Non-Utterance
The current and the previous year have forced us to take a fresh look at freedom of artistic expression and recognise that it is threatened not only in countries with authoritarian regimes but also in countries with competitive democratic elections. This survey aims to capture this moment, analyse the atmosphere in the artistic environment, and serve as a critical basis for the new "Non-Utterance" Open Call, which explores censorship and self-censorship in art.
The process of art persecution we are facing and following is far from unique; it has a long history, and the geography of the persecution of art is still significant, even if it does not always concern countries with autocratic regimes. We know of high-profile cases in countries with developed democracies, where instead of state control, the repressive policies can be dictated by corporate interests, Church concerns about values protection, moral panic, institutional self-censorship, or even predatory strategies of the art market.
In the research literature, it is more common to characterise the reactionary processes as censorship than persecution or even foreclosure, which Judith Butler understands as the system where the "codes of unspoken rules dictate what is permissible in speech and language" [1]. German sociology and social psychology have coined the term "vorauseilender Gehorsam" ('anticipatory obedience'), which refers to the voluntary anticipation of a presumed desired behaviour. In anticipation of a command, a behaviour is performed independently, even before an explicit request to do so. While persons acting in anticipatory obedience can retain the illusion that they are acting voluntarily, this behaviour is also one of the main ingredients of politically totalitarian systems.

It is usually those works that have been repressed that first come to the attention of researchers. At the same time, we know little about the conditions under which artists continue to make art, the strategies they employ to protect themselves and avoid drawing unwanted attention to their work, and the self-censorship that inevitably conflicts with the author's intentions. We observe the process of how artistic
expression, suffering from censorship or self-censorship pressures, undergoes many changes: what became dangerous to speak about directly begins to be spoken about indirectly, starts to disguise itself, or indicates its own absence. Artists deploy new strategies to protect themselves, but some of them, even after changing their address and country, do not dare to express themselves openly or directly. This has given rise to a new and unexplored system of imagery, non-appearance, and non-expressiveness, which will be the object of our interest. The only possible strategy for studying these processes is to work directly with the artists, so we would like to start our meticulous work with a new survey.
During the next 2024 round, AIR InSILo aims to create a safe space for the completion or reworking of an idea or an artwork that has never been realised due to the political momentum or restraints of self-censorship nature.

The survey outcome will help shape the direction of a new call and will give the artists a good reflection on the limits of freedom and liberty of their environment. One can participate in the survey anonymously; for this, please use any anonymised email address.

[1] Judith Butler, "Ruled Out: Vocabularies of the Censor", in Censorship and Silencing: Practices of Cultural Regulation, Robert C. Post (ed.), Rebecca Frazier (man. ed.), Los Angeles: The Getty Research Institute for the History of Art and the Humanities 1998, p. 247–261.