Nude studies have been part of Western art from time immemorial, and have no intrinsic or inherent connection with lewdness or pornography. But the example of Michelangelo and everyone else goes out the window when it comes to appeasing Muslims. The principle is absolute: in Muslim countries, non-Muslims must conform their behavior to Islamic sensibilities. In non-Muslim countries, non-Muslims must conform their behavior to Islamic sensibilities.
In the invitation to the private art show the project sounded really good. It sounded as if something good was being done for artists. Marzahn-Hellersdorf Adult Education Centre is giving artists the opportunity to present their works to a wide public on the floors of the institution. Creatives are brought together with citizens and thus exposed to criticism much more directly than in a commercial gallery. This is how the municipality describes its art exhibition space programme. “Imaginative & colourful paintings and drawings” is the name of the current exhibition of the Berlin artist Susanne SchÃ¼ffel.
The show was supposed to open with a celebration on Friday evening. But the private show was not held; the artist had cancelled. She was allowed to show only some of her pictures. Six nude pictures had been removed a few days before. She is raging.
Last Monday the 46-year-old artist learned that her nude pictures could not be shown on the corridors of the adult education centre “out of respect for Muslims”. That is the explanation the deputy director of the adult education centre, Gotthard HÃ¤nisch, gave. Muslims could “feel unpleasantly affected” when looking at the sketches. Muslims, including some from the asylum seeker reception home in Carola-Neher-StraÃŸe, visit the adult education centre for German courses.
Susanne SchÃ¼ffel cannot accept the reasoning of the deputy director. “There was no conflict. No one had complained about the sketches. That is anticipatory obedience,” says the graduate of WeiÃŸensee art school. “This is about the freedom of art.” Her classical nude sketches show nothing crude or offensive. “They’re about the beauty of woman.”