Monday, April 25th 7:30pm
(Reception 7-7:30pm)

Free and open to the public.

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Location: Traffic - Download Map


Mustapha Benfodil, "Maportaliche/It Has No Importance," 2011

A talk on censorship and controversy in contemporary art, discussing “The Persekian Affair,” blasphemy, public order and artists’ moral rights. Solicitor and Legal Consultant David Melville raises the question, “How should the State reconcile the right to freedom of expression and creativity with “public order” and the preservation of a society’s moral compass?”

In light of the recent events surrounding the dismissal of Sharjah Art Foundation Director Jack Persekian and the censorship of artworks in the 10th edition of the Sharjah Biennial, Solicitor and Legal Consultant David Melville looks at the issue of censorship and controversy in this context and beyond. The basis of the talk comes from Melville’s concern with the founding elements behind the ‘Persekian petition’ - namely the idea that the removal of Persekian is somehow a form of denying the cultural shifts that are happening in the region. In reality, it is more about setting boundaries - a theme between artists and the State for centuries, and the importance of operating in a dialogue rather than as between contesting parties.

About David Melville
David Melville is a Solicitor and Legal Consultant whose interest in the Arts, Public Affairs and Art Law stem from his knowledge of Intellectual Property Rights, particularly those relating to emerging Digital Media and Copyright, and the way those rights affect the art market, artists and galleries. With over 30 years of experience in the legal field, Melville has held a number of leading positions including that of ‘UK Legal Director for Amazon,’ where he managed the UK legal department of the world’s largest on-line retailer. He was involved in balancing the requirement to remove offensive and illegal content with the need to maintain freedom of expression. Melville has been in Dubai since 2008 and presently works as a Legal Consultant with Jafar Alwan Al Jaziri Advocates and Legal Consultants in Dubai, specializing in IP related issues and the Arts.