Creating Spaces of Freedom

Creating Spaces of Freedom

Culture in Defiance


9780863567360 January 2002 Paperback 196pp Over 100 full colour illustrations.

About the Book

In some countries, artists who express dissenting views of the social and cultural circumstances, in which they live and work, experience resistance ranging from social exclusion to, at worst, state oppression. In response, they seek refuge within their imaginations and artistic endeavours where they create and inhabit ‘spaces of freedom’.

Creating Spaces of Freedom is an anthology of essays by such notable figures as Nobel Prize Winner in Literature Wole Soyinka, anti-apartheid activist Albie Sachs, banned Vietnamese novelist Duong Thu Huong and the Algerian comedian Fellag. In addition, this unique cultural document contains nearly 100 photographs of news, CD and book covers, films, cartoons, websites, and fine art.

From Brazilian soap opera directors and Chinese avant-garde artists to Arab cartoonists and Serbian website designers, people from around the world find ways to transcend limitations and avoid repercussions. Creating Spaces of Freedom celebrates triumph over adversity.

About the Contributors

Els van der Plas is the director of the Prince Claus Fund. An art historian, art critic and curator, she was the founder and director (1987-1997) of the Gate Foundation in Amsterdam, an organisation for the intercultural exchange of contemporary art. She co-edited Creating Spaces of Freedom, published by Saqi Books, and The Art of African Fashion, published by the Prince Claus Fund. She writes for several magazines and lectures at different universities worldwide. She curated, among others, the following shows, Het Klimaat (Netherlands, 1991), Indonesian Modern Art (Indonesia / Netherlands, 1993), Orientation (Indonesia / Netherlands, 1996) and Secrets (Netherlands, 1996).

Malu Halasa is editor at large for Portal 9: Stories and Critical Writing about the City, a new journal from Beirut. She is co-author of Syria Speaks: Art and Culture from the Frontline, The Secret Life of Syrian Lingerie: Intimacy and Design, Creating Spaces of Freedom: Culture in Defiance and series editor for the Transit anthologies, including Transit Tehran: Young Iran and Its Inspirations and Transit Beirut. Her exhibitions include ‘Culture in Defiance’, on the art of the Syrian uprising for the Prince Claus Fund Gallery; and Art and Documentary from Iran for the Atrium Gallery, LSE.

Marlous Willemsen is a policy officer for the Prince Claus Fund. She studied Arabic language and culture at Utrecht University (1988-1994), and Islamic art at Otto Friedrich University in Bamberg, Germany (1991-1992). She is a member of the board of the Centre of Islamic Art and Culture, Rotterdam, which she managed (1994-1997) before joining the Prince Claus Fund in 1997. In this centre she ran partnerships with cultural organisations in the Middle East and North Africa and set up intellectual projects in the Netherlands.


‘An exhilarating collection.'
Marina Warner, The Independent

‘This book is not only a wonderful celebration of the necessity, the dignity, and the joy of freedom.’
Ian Buruma

‘A long overdue look at the role of art in places where subversion is the only way to challenge the status quo.’