Organisation - April 19, 2011

'Plop' chicken photo removed for open day

Six artistic photos of animals in intensive farming were taken down last week because of the Open Day in Forum. Censorship or a misunderstanding?

No longer to be seen in the Forum
Nearly 1,300 schoolchildren attended the Open Day for Bachelor's studies in Forum on Saturday 9 April. What they did not see were artists' photos that included a 'plop chicken' (battery hen) and a caged mink. These photos were part of an exhibition brought to Wageningen by the General Studies organization. They had been hanging in Forum for three weeks but the exhibition was due to open officially on 9 April, which was also the Open Day.
Insulted
The artists Marianne Berkhoff, Marijke Volkers and Katinka Schreuder saw to their surprise that six of the nine livestock farming photos by Berkhoff had been taken down. The photos about the fishing industry and greenhouse horticulture were still hanging. The artists let it be known they felt 'insulted' and removed all their work from Forum in protest.
'Censorship'
Photographer Marijke Volkers suspects censorship: director Rob van Haarlem of the General Studies organization told her that the photos had been taken down because they were 'apparently not suitable for sensitive children'. Van Haarlem: 'That is indeed what I said. That was my interpretation after the Forum receptionist phoned me on Friday to say that the photos were not appropriate on an Open Day with hundreds of schoolchildren.' Van Haarlem then removed the photos himself.
Forum manager Joris Fortuin says the receptionist was simply passing on the comments of the programme directors and information officers. 'These were remarks along the lines of  "Are those photos going to be staying up?" Van Haarlem was not asked to remove the photos; he took that decision himself.'
Banners
Van Haarlem got a different impression. He thinks what happened is a real shame. 'I am in the dark about the specific reason. It was said the photos had to go to make room for banners but there was nothing hung in the places where the photos had been.'
Simon Vink of Communications & Marketing, the department organizing the event: 'There was a possibility that the banisters would be needed for hanging up banners but that didn't happen in the end.'
Vink says it certainly was not censorship: 'We like to have the entire interior of the building in a uniform style, and the photos did not fit in with the style of the stands and the information material. There is only one target on the Open Day and that is the schoolchildren. In principle, everything else is subservient. We are sorry the photographers only discovered this on the Saturday.'

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