Chris Degenhardt with his work, Invasion, which was banned from the Murwillumbah Public Library by Tweed Shire Council.
Chris Degenhardt with his work, Invasion, which was banned from the Murwillumbah Public Library by Tweed Shire Council. Blainey Woodham

Council refuses to hang Nazi art

CONTROVERSIAL artist Chris Degenhardt 'has accused Tweed Shire Council of “blatant censorship” after refusing to hang his anti-Repco Rally Australia painting in the Murwillumbah Library.

The painting, titled Invasion, was deemed offensive by Tweed Mayor Warren Polglase yesterday for its inclusion of a dead koala, a woman crying next to a crashed car and two men dressed as Nazis.

Mr Degenhardt was informed the work had no place on the walls of the library on Thursday morning when he arrived to hang the painting as part of his exhibition.

“This is blatant art censorship,” the Nobbys Creek artist said.

“Speaking out against censorship in art is important. Freedom of speech and free expression are the most crucial components to a truly free society.”

Mr Degenhardt  said the painting was a social commentary on the outrage he felt after the NSW Government introduced special legislation to approve the Australian leg of the World Rally Championships in Tweed last September.

He said not allowing the painting to hang only solidified its message.

“Many argue that one of the primary responsibilities of an artist is to use their medium to communicate the injustices of the world in which everyone lives,” he said.

“Not allowing local people their voice is such an injustice. Of course, the vicious cycle for censoring artists is that the artists speak about censorship from the government, but the moment that art is censored, it receives truth and power.”

Mr Degenhardt's other paintings, which did not relate to Repco Rally, were allowed to be hung in the library.

Tweed Mayor Warren Polglase said the painting was propaganda and the library was not an appropriate venue.

“Council has decided to not allow this particular work to hang in the Murwillumbah Library as it could be viewed as offensive by some members of the public. I am personally offended by it,” Cr Polglase said.

“People come to the library to browse through the books, to read and to use the computers. They certainly don't come to be confronted with a violent and perhaps defamatory depiction of a local event.

“I imagine children could be upset about the dead koala covered in blood, or the weeping car accident victim.”

Both the Murwillumbah and Tweed Heads libraries provide art space to encourage local creativity and give artist the chance to sell their work.

A Tweed Shire Council spokeswoman last week initially said the artwork would be allowed to hang in the library.



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