A new exhibition in the Baillieu Library will explore the history of censorship in Australia.
Banned Books in Australia is curated by Ms Jenny Lee, Associate Professor David Bennett and Associate Professor Richard Pennell, from the Arts Faculty, and designed with the help of recent Faculty of the VCA and Music graduate Ms Jenny Chang.
The exhibition includes books, photographs, documents and original artworks exploring aspects of censorship in Australia.
Associate Professor Bennett says, “It’s important that past and present practices of censorship in Australia be scrutinised and highlighted.
“Freedom of expression, even in a liberal democratic nation that is a signatory to the UN Declaration of Human Rights, is a highly circumscribed principle, subject to numerous ‘states of exception’, and the question of its limits is always a political question, subject to contestation by conflicting interest-groups,” he explains.
The exhibition will also delve into current censorship issues surrounding books such as euthanasia activist Phillip Nitschke’s The Peaceful Pill and the controversy surrounding the work of photographer Bill Henson.
Curator of Special Collections at the library Ms Pam Pryde says there are also a number of local and overseas artists contributing to the exhibition. A number of artists have created works responding to the overall theme of censorship whilst others have adopted an individual book to respond to.
Ms Pryde explains that the original idea for this exhibition began in 2007 when the Classification Review Board of the Office of Film and Literature Classification refused classification to two books held in the University’s Special Collections.
The books in question were Defence of the Muslim Lands and Join the Caravan by the late Abdullah Azzam.
The idea lay dormant for several years until the Bibliographical Society of Australia and New Zealand (BSANZ) decided to hold a conference titled To Deprave and Corrupt: Forbidden, Hidden and Censored Books in 2010 (14-16 July, State Library of Victoria), and asked the University of Melbourne and Monash University to host exhibitions to support the conference.
Banned Books in Australia will be exhibited in the Baillieu Library, and will run from 7 June – 29 August. Further details, http://www.unimelb.edu.au/culturalcollec…