Events: Teach-in at Indiana University: The Samia Halaby Art Exhibit Censorship Controversy – Defending Academic Freedom and Artistic Expression – February 9, 2024

BLOOMINGTON, INDIANA – JANUARY 26: Protesters march against the cancellation of an upcoming exhibit at Indiana University for Palestinian artist Samia Halaby on January 26, 2024 in Bloomington, Indiana. Halaby, 87, has been outspoken in her support of Palestinians. (Photo by Jeremy Hogan/The Bloomingtonian)

The following event announcement was sent to the Bloomingtonian:

Press Release—January 31, 2024
Teach-in: “Warning! Dangerous Art!” February 9th, at 4 p.m
Indiana University, Bloomington, Place tbd

A group of Indiana University, Bloomington faculty is hosting a teach-in
focusing on the issue of academic freedom on college campuses.
On December 20th, 2023, David Brenneman, Director of the Eskenazi Museum at Indiana
University, Bloomington, informed internationally renowned artist Samia Halaby that a
retrospective of her work, in planning for 3 years, had been cancelled. No public announcement
was made.

The university’s higher administration has not provided a clear and persuasive explanation for that
action. Requests from the artist (an alumna of the IU MFA program and former IU faculty) to
provide such an explanation have gone unanswered. To date, the provost has defended this act of
censorship by stating that the exhibit entailed security threats that he had to take seriously. He
made a further claim that, in general, “when there is a risk of violence or a risk of other incidents
I would err on the side of caution…It is an easy decision for me.” (BFC meeting, 1/16/2024)
The cancellation has been condemned by PEN America, the National Coalition Against
Censorship (NCAC), and the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE).

Highlighting the shocking news of the cancellation of the Samia Halaby retrospective and the
suspension of Professor Abdulkader Sinno by the Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic
Affairs, the teach-in will consider the grave threat such actions pose to the future of academic
freedom for everyone at Indiana University. Scholars with expertise in related matters—from the
legal foundations of academic freedom to the history of censorship of artistic and intellectual
creativity—will provide necessary context to understand the relevance of this moment. Creators
of art in various media (from visual to written) will reflect on the impact of curtailing academic
freedom on the creative process and freedom of expression—on campus, and beyond.
***All are welcome to this important academic event defending freedom of
expression and open inquiry on our campus, values IU claims to stand for,

encourage, and protect.***

Contact: Alex Lichtenstein, 812-855-7504, [email protected]

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