On 15 May the letter below was sent to all organisations joining the ’Your Voice Against Poverty’ campaign, see
and the organiser, BOND:
'Your Voice Against Poverty' bans sculpture
Do you agree with this censorship?
The African women's NGO Rainbo has been forbidden to exhibit a controversial sculpture at the 'Your Voice Against Poverty' event at the brink of the Thames in London on 2nd June. The ban has been decreed by BOND, the organizer of the event. Allegedly the ban is motivated by a wish to please the Christian organisations affiliated to BOND. The banned piece of art is a handsome bronze sculpture depicting a crucified pregnant teenager. The sculpture has been cast in various varieties as an accusation against the crusade launched by Christian fundamentalists against contraception and sexual education with President Bush and the Pope in the lead.
The sculpture has been exhibited for a couple of months in front of the Lutheran Cathedral of Copenhagen in co-operation with the dean and the parish council who wanted to make a statement that not all Christian circles are supportive of the crusade of the Pope and the fundamentalists.
Subsequently the sculpture titled 'In the Name of God' has been exhibited in front of the Danish Women's Museum in Aarhus and at WSF2007 in Nairobi, Kenya.
You'll find more information about these exhibitions at:
For the moment a women's movement in Nicaragua is receiving the sculpture. In the coming weeks they will be carrying out a comprehensive campaign to highlight the alarming maternal mortality, and they will use the Pregnant Teenager as the hallmark of the campaign all around the country. In addition they will make 1,000 miniature models of the sculpture to be distributed to parliamentarians, members of the Judiciary and other outstanding persons. For more information see:
Until now the information is scarce, but in near future we'll add more documents.
On this background it seems grotesque that BOND and Your Voice Against Poverty' will ban this sculpture at their public rally in London. Indeed, such 'progressive' grassroots' circles, are the last ones that I would deem to be supportive of the crusade against contraception and sexual education orchestrated by the Pope and President Bush.
I'm a Danish sculptor, creator of the sculpture and initiator of the art manifestation. For decades I've been staking my sculptures to ignite a debate about the North/South relation - and the inequitable distribution of the world's resources. My huge sculptural manifestations have been a well-known and appreciated component of international NGO rallies such as the European Social Forums in London, Paris and Athens, the WTO Ministerial Conference in Hong Kong 2005, Jubilee 2000 in Prague - just to mention a few examples. You'll find substantial information and plenty of photos on my homepage:
For sure, I have been censored by totalitarian regimes, e.g. the Chinese government, and I have been expelled from Mexico for the 'crime' of erecting a 'Pillar of Shame' against the Acteal massacre in co-operation with the CNI, the indigenous peoples' organisation. But I have NEVER had an experience like this: that 'progressive' NGOs like BOND or other democratic western NGOs make an attempt to obstruct the exhibition of one of my sculptures - in fact I can hardly believe it's true! To meet stubborn resistance from those who have always been my allies!
So I am contacting you to find out whether your organisation is really backing this absurd decision, a decision that if it should be definitive, would have serious consequences for a future unprejudiced co-operation on the NGO scene.
The ban has been decreed by Tom Allen from BOND to which you are associated. He upholds his position despite of repeated protests from Rainbo and me. To illustrate his stance I'll quote an e-mail that he has sent to Rainbo on 27th April:
"I've shared this with my colleagues on the Mobilisation Group and we've come to the decision that, much as we sympathise with your messages and objectives, we don't think it would be appropriate to exhibit this sculptor on 2nd June.
There are two reasons: one is that this is a family-friendly upbeat day aimed at a young audience, two is that there will be a lot of Christian organisations, and individual Christians, involved, including CAFOD, Church of England, Tearfund, Christian Aid, etc. I'm afraid this sculpture is just too "heavy" for this audience.
Perhaps Rainbo would still like to have a stall in the main park, with information about the work you do and the issues you work on? We think this exhibition would be inappropriate however."
I hope you'll make an effort to alter this absurd and disastrous decision that represents a blatant attack on the freedom of expression.
We have already booked the air tickets for going to London with the sculpture, and they cannot be cancelled. So we now have an 'embarrassed' banned and homeless, and apparently highly controversial, sculpture on its way to London. So we will be pleased to offer the sculpture as a loan to any NGO in London that could arrange a reasonable exhibition - for their own sake, and for fulfilling the essential purpose of the sculpture. Such an exhibition could be made at some culture centre, a mundane gallery, a museum or some other entity that might be more courageous than the progressive grassroots.
The possibilities are manifold: Maybe Bono from U2 could take the sculpture under his wings. He would probably not be scared of the reactions that could be expected from antiquated presidents and popes due to their rigid ideas about contraception. And to those who fear the sculpture could be offensive to families with children, I can tell that the sculpture has already been seen by thousands of children in Copenhagen (at the Christmas sermons) and in Nairobi - and they did not get scared of the sculpture..............
In fact, it is a lot more merciful than many of the macabre crucifixes exhibited in Christian churches.
You receive this message along with more than 300 organisations affiliated to Bond or the 'Your Voice Against Poverty' campaign.
Best wishes from
Jens Galschiot, sculptor
DK-5270 Odense N, Denmark
Tel.: +45 6618 4058
Fax: +45 6618 4158
Tom Allen can be contacted at
+44 020 7520 0253
Homepage of the Your Voice Against Poverty campaign:
Jens Galschiot's homepage: