Mimeta was in the programming board for the international celebration of freedom of expression in arts and culture. The first edition of the annual festival was launched in 2013.
Art has a power that many authorities fear. It is often much more on target in its description of reality than other forms of expression, reaching hearts more directly than the well worn approaches of the news media. This is why many artistic forms of expression are controlled, censored and prohibited in today’s world. Classical examples are dictatorships that for a variety of reasons, including power politics, and religious or cultural concerns, monitor artists and censor their expressive endeavours. But more subtle methods are also used to suppress artists: in Western democracies controversial and penetrating observations and expressions are marginalized and unacknowledged because they “don’t sell”, or “don’t appeal to common interests”.
Art is like the air we breathe and the water we drink. It must move freely if we are to survive. In all countries and among all groups of people art is crucial when we shape identities, and form and develop nations. In significant historical and contemporary movements and change processes, art, including the written word, theatre, music and song, has motivated and mobilized people to maintain hope and the will to resist oppression and persecution. We have seen the mobilizing force of artists in today’s Egypt, and we know the significance of songs in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, against slavery in the US, and in the civil rights movement in the US. In the former Soviet Union, Vladimir Vysotskij’s songs functioned as “living bandages” for the soul of the Russian folk, contributing to the growth of Glasnost and Perestroika. It is not hard to imagine what Nora in “A Doll’s House” and Pippi Longstockings have meant to equality and women’s liberation in and outside Scandinavia. From the world of films we know that today’s Iranian filmmakers are able to show the world a different Iran than what the authorities want us to see, which in turn reduces the stigmatization of this country in the West.
“Red Zone” is a broad annual cultural festival involving most forms of art.