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Art show in Poland condemned for giving platform to racist messages under pretext of free speech

AN ART exhibition at a Polish state gallery has been accused of giving a platform to racist messages under the guise of celebrating free speech.

The show, which opened today, features the works of right-wing artists in what organisers described as a challenge to political correctness and “cancel culture” on the left.

Political Art is the second exhibition at the Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art under director Piotr Bernatowicz, who was appointed by Poland’s conservative ruling party in 2019.

Since it came to power in 2015, the Law and Justice Party has harnessed the country’s cultural institutions in a mission to promote conservative and “patriotic” values.

The exhibition includes work from Dan Park, who has twice been jailed for hate crimes in Sweden.

The Swedish artist placed swastikas and boxes labelled “Zyklon B” – the gas used in the mass murder of Jews and others during the Holocaust – in front of a Jewish community centre in Malmo in 2009.

Among his works being shown in Warsaw is a poster that presents Anders Behring Breivik, the right-wing terrorist who killed 77 people in twin attacks in Norway, as a model for the clothing brand Lacoste.

Another artist in the exhibition is Uwe Max Jensen, whose performances have included urinating and defecating on objects and running around naked.

His work includes a large flag made up of four smaller LGBT pride flags angled to create a swastika, which he said is his way of protesting what he said was a taboo around criticising the gay rights movement.

An anti-fascist network in Poland criticised the exhibition, accusing the curators of using democratic principles like freedom of speech “to convey and justify right-wing hate speech.”

In a statement, the Anti-Fascist Year argued that including the more problematic artists would serve “to strengthen the electoral prospects of authoritarian parties everywhere.”

Co-curator Jon Eirik Lundberg denied that the show promotes racism and said its aim is to fight for freedom of speech in defence of democracy.

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