Artists won’t submit tape to Ontario censor board by John Bentley Mays (1984)


Confused: Sexual Views by Paul Wong

Originally published in the Globe and Mail, June 13, 1984

Several Toronto artist-run centres will defy the Ontario Board of Censors by sponsoring an installation containing videotapes which have not been submitted for pre-censoring.

Confused: Sexual Views, a mixed-media work by Vancouver artist Paul Wong featuring 27 videotaped interviews on sexuality will open at Artculture Resource Centre (ARC) on Friday evening. It will be on view through July 15. The work was originally commissioned by the Vancouver Art Gallery as the inaugural exhibition in its new video gallery. Its opening was cancelled by VAG director Luke Rombout because he did not believe the tapes constituted “a creative act.”

The exhibition is being sponsored by the following artist-run centres: the Funnel Film Theatre, ARC, Mercer Union, YYZ, the Music Gallery and Art Metropole. According to organizer Michaelle McLean, the list of sponsors is expected to be longer by the time the work opens.

“For this installation the sponsors have agreed as an act of protest not to submit the videotape element to the censor board,” McLean said. “This action is being taken to protest the province’s existing and proposed film and video censorship legislation, and the acts of the Ontario Board of Censors against artists’ work.”

Asked about possible Government response to the installation, censor board spokesman Sid Rodaway said, “The board is not trying to censor art, but to enforce existing laws. If these people are protesting, they may be going to set up a public situation, and the act may apply. The inspectors will have to wait for the event, then make up their minds whether (the sponsors) are acting in contravention to the law. I am sure they will there to watch.”