creative freedom

The artists Pepe Romero and Javier Ocampo have opened a debate that was pending in the country, that of creative freedom established in the fourth article of our Constitution. As a parliamentary advisor, I was part of the drafting team for that article in 2009. Since then I have seen various cases in the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation related to freedom of expression, where this constitutional body has already established a criterion regarding the limit that this must have. It did so by interpreting article 6, which literally says:

“The manifestation of ideas will not be subject to any judicial or administrative inquisition, except in the event that it attacks morality, private life or the rights of third parties, provokes a crime, or disturbs public order…”. In other words, this article has a limit, but creative freedom does not, which is also established in article 4, which says:

“Every person has the right to access culture and to enjoy the goods and services provided by the State in this area, as well as the exercise of their cultural rights. The State will promote the means for the dissemination and development of culture, attending to cultural diversity in all its manifestations and expressions with full respect for creative freedom. The law will establish the mechanisms for access and participation in any cultural manifestation”.

Regarding the latter, in the General Law of Culture and Cultural Rights (in whose elaboration I also participated), we established in article 7, the principles of cultural policy that the Mexican State must attend to through its government orders. The first of these is precisely “respect for creative freedom and cultural manifestations”.

In recent years, various artistic exhibitions, cultural events and sculpture installations have been inaugurated that have confronted creators, the cultural community and society in general. Outrage, misunderstanding and above all, media discussion is what they have generated the most. However, I believe that we are making progress in the progressivity of the right to culture.

Personally, this kind of pre-Hispanic harassment or ancestral smearing carried out by Pepe Romero and Javier Ocampo is not to my liking. I see in saliva, for example, an ingenious ruse to try to encourage unsustainable speech. At the same time, the generational inability to understand the normative. Paradoxical, because it is part of what both denounce in their speech. Now, creative freedom is not an aesthetic value or something that makes me like your work, but a legal precept that promotes the diversity of artistic and cultural manifestations.

I understand the central axis of these performative acts. The furtive, for example in the case of Pepe Romero, which makes it seem as if it had been allowed. There are artistic manifestations that support his proposal in the furtiveness of the act, this is one of them.

Imagine Banksy processing municipal permits to capture his works in the streets. Urban art, particularly mural-graffiti, even this type of manifestation that we are talking about, is not by invitation. Much less should they be subject to government qualifications or criteria. The rats painted by Banksy on the London Underground were erased by its authorities, who immediately announced that other spaces would be made available to them. Obviously, the artist did not answer the call. It is in stealth that part of his work resides.

Nor are we going to get fancy and ask these two performers if they know that the Mexican State has just signed the Council of Europe Convention on Crimes Related to Cultural Assets, as well as the Unidroit Convention (central elements of their artistic proposal).

Pepe Romero’s performative act did not cause damage, therefore it does not constitute a crime, in addition to being protected by the principle of creative freedom. We can criticize artistic ostentation, its procedural fetishism, the disappointing games of contemporary art, the frivolity of the new currents, even the museum institution, but not try to cancel what we do not understand, or worse, what we do not like. Freedom of expression should serve us to defend everything with which we do not agree, in the same way as creative freedom, to try to be more tolerant.

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