When is censorship justified? Panel Dr Peter Bowden, Julian Burnside AO QC, Associate Professor Robert Nelson, facilitator Dr Zanny Begg

The panel session, When is censorship justified?, includes Dr Peter Bowden, Julian Burnside AO QC and Associate Professor Robert Nelson, with Dr Zanny Begg as facilitator. It was recorded at the Future/Forward summit on Thursday 6 November 2014 at Carriageworks, Sydney.

Dr Zanny Begg is an academic at UNSW Art and Design, an artist, theorist and curator. Her recent exhibitions include The List, Campbelltown Arts Centre, Sydney, Things Fall Apart, Artspace Sydney, Emeraldtown, Gary Indiana, Artspace, Sydney, What Keeps Mankind Alive, Istanbul Biennale, Turkey, the Taipei Biennial, Taiwan, Sharjah Biennale, Plot for a Biennial film program, United Arab Emirates and Self Education – Self organisation, National Centre for Contemporary Art, Moscow, Russia. Zanny was invited to Hong Kong for an Australia-China Council Residency (May 2007), Indonesia for an Asia-Link Residency (June 2008), Chicago for a residency with Mess Hall (2010), Indonesia for an Australia Indonesia Institute Residency (2011) and to Barcelona for an Australia Council Residency (2012). She was the director of Tin Sheds Gallery (2010-2014) and her recent curatorial projects include Baadlands: An Atlas of Experimental Cartography, The Right to the City, Tin Sheds Gallery and There Goes The Neighbourhood, Performance Space. For more information: www.zannybegg.com.

Given artists’ role as iconoclasts within the broader socio-political context, should they observe any ethical boundaries?
Dr Peter Bowden has recently edited a book on applied ethics, and has just published a book on whistleblowing, covering Australia, Great Britain and the United States. His career to date has been in institutional strengthening, concentrating since 2003 on institutional ethics. He was Professor of Administrative Studies at the University of Manchester, and prior to that, Coordinator of the MBA program at Monash University. He has worked with or advised a number of international organisations, including the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, and United Nations agencies. Most of this work was on strengthening national or sectoral institutions. He is currently Research Associate in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Sydney and a member of the Executive Council of the Australian Association for Professional and Applied Ethics.

What are the implications of art censorship for the community? Might we need a Bill of Rights?
Julian Burnside AO QC is a barrister based in Melbourne. He specialises in commercial litigation. He joined the Bar in 1976 and took silk in 1989. He acted for the Ok Tedi natives against BHP, for Alan Bond in fraud trials, for Rose Porteous in numerous actions against Gina Rinehart, and for the Maritime Union of Australia in the 1998 waterfront dispute against Patrick Stevedores. He was Senior Counsel assisting the Australian Broadcasting Authority in the “Cash for Comment” inquiry and was senior counsel for Liberty Victoria in the Tampa litigation. He is a former President of Liberty Victoria, and has acted pro bono in many human rights cases, in particular concerning the treatment of refugees. He is passionately involved in the arts. He collects contemporary paintings and sculptures and regularly commissions music. He is Chair of fortyfivedownstairs, a not for profit arts and performance venue in Flinders Lane, Melbourne, and Chair of Chamber Music Australia. He is the author of a book of essays on language and etymology, Wordwatching (Scribe, 2004) and Watching Brief, (Scribe, 2007) a collection of his essays and speeches about the justice system and human rights. He compiled a book of letters written by asylum seekers held in Australia’s detention camps. The book, From Nothing to Zero was published in 2003 by Lonely Planet. He also wrote Matilda and the Dragon a children’s book published by Allen & Unwin in 1991. In 2004 he was elected as a Living National Treasure. In 2009 he was made an Officer of the Order of Australia. In 2014 he was awarded the Sydney Peace Prize.

How much tolerance can we stand? Has the clock turned back on censorship?
Professor Robert Nelson works in the Office of the DVC (Education) at Monash University as an Associate Professor. The key theme of Robert’s research is how the aesthetic interacts with the moral and the educational. Good teaching, like good writing or architecture, is beautiful and exciting as well as useful and purposeful. What creates this stimulation? And how does beauty relate to global environmental priorities and the urgent educational needs of changing opinions and behaviour to create a fairer and greener society? Robert’s research is eclectic. He publishes prolifically on art and design, bicycles, method, ecology and urban planning, with five books and over 1,000 articles and newspaper reviews. Underlying these investigations is Robert’s philological study of the history of ideas, which he pursues through primary texts from antiquity to the present. Interpreting philosophical and poetic writings and comparing their rhetoric with inventions in art, design and music, Robert is developing a history of feeling and the linguistic institutions that define vision for better or worse. Robert Nelson is an Art critic for The Age.