Recently in one of photography groups of Pakistan an interesting debate started when a picture showing few poor children was considered embarrassing by group administrators. The picture was deemed to project against national interest with a risk of creating negative image of Pakistan.
Group administrator sought opinion of senior photographers before decision to deleted the picture.
This issues repeatedly creeps up in groups and art circles and poses challenges to freedom of expression and the limits of liberty given to artists in a society obsessed with an idea of its image and how it is being perceived by the world at large.
I feel art tries to depict reality (whatever it is) and its vision is global rather than parochial. It addresses humanity rather than to a particular tribe or a nation. If a picture shows human misery and poverty, it means human society has still a lot of achieve. Still there are issues to deal, people to help and a long distance to the goal where we are able to provide a descent living to our brethren.
Banning such art (or books) is like gagging the voice of conscience and living in a world of self-delusion.
No one is going to look down at Pakistan just because we have few poor people.
Though we are ridiculed when our leaders are listed on top of corrupt politicians of the world. We are viewed with suspicion and hatred when terrorist are reported to have direct or indirect links to Pakistan. Reports of maltreatment to minorities tarnish our image, painting us as a nation of religious bigots and intolerant.
I think we should not add another feather to this reputation by banning an artist for showing few ugly spots on the face of our society. Such situations do occur when a book or a piece of art is deemed inimical to what authorities consider as national interest or religious dogmas.
History is replete with such examples where art was banned and books burned as they were perceived to challenge national narratives or religious edicts. Can truth be suppressed by denying the right of independent thinking or freedom of creative expressions?