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Artists launch project seeking redisplay of all works removed from art festival in Japan

Artists announce the start of "ReFreedom Aichi," a project that aims to resume the exhibition of all works removed or temporary withdrawn from Aichi Triennale 2019 international arts festival, at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward on Sept. 10, 2019. (Mainichi/Akiko Nagata)

TOKYO -- Five artists participating in the Aichi Triennale 2019 international arts festival announced at a press conference on Sept. 10 the start of a project that aims to resume the exhibition of all works removed or temporary withdrawn from the event.

The project called "ReFreedom Aichi" was launched after the statue of a Korean "comfort woman" was pulled from a discontinued section about censorship entitled "After 'Freedom of Expression?'" following criticism and an arson threat.

In objection to the festival's decision, 12 artists and groups from in and out of Japan temporary suspended the exhibition of their works or altered them.

Artists who were individually expressing their opposition will work together in the project to hold events, such as workshops with experts that are open to the people of Aichi and a campaign calling out to people to use the hashtag #YOurFreedom to write about anything they feel lacks freedom.

ReFreedom Aichi aims to attract support and prompt the Aichi Triennale Organizing Committee to resume the display of all artworks. The project is currently supported by 35 artists and groups including those from overseas.

In the press conference held at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan in Tokyo, contemporary artist Meiro Koizumi, whose work is currently being exhibited, called for the general public to join in the project's activities. He stated, "Freedom of expression is directly connected to the freedom of deciding your own thoughts and how to live your own life."

(Japanese original by Akiko Nagata, Cultural News Department)

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