In the 1980s, the Ontario Board of Censors began to subject media artists’ work to the same cuts, bans, and warning labels as commercial film. Ruling Out Art reveals what happens when art and law intersect, when artists, arts exhibitors, and their anti-censorship allies enter courts of law as appellants, defendants, or expert witnesses.
The administration of culture during Ontario’s censor wars was not a simple top-down exercise. Members of arts communities mounted grassroots protests and engaged the province in court cases that ultimately influenced how the province interpreted freedom of expression, a fundamental and far-reaching legal right. The language of the law in turn shaped the way artists conceived of their own practices.
By exploring how art practices and provincial legislation intertwined during Ontario’s censor wars, this innovative book documents an important moment in the history of contemporary art and cultural activism in Canada, one that helped artists secure their constitutional rights under the law.
1 Historicizing Censorship
2 Misunderstandings between Art and Law
3 Competing Anti-Censorships and Mixed Legal Outcomes
4 Defining Communities with Uncertainty
5 Media Artists Mobilize, Mobilizing Media Arts
Appendix: Censorship Jurisprudence and Landmark Legal Challenges
Notes; Bibliography; Index
Taryn Sirove is an art historian and independent curator based in Toronto. Her research focuses on contemporary art in Canada, particularly new media work and policy frameworks for the regulation of media art.