Artworks made by Andrew Schoultz and Paul Insect for the South Park 20th Anniversary Show to be displayed at Comedy Central’s South Park Art Gallery from July 21st-24th during the Comic Con convention in San Diego have been censored and pulled from the exhibition by South Park Public Relations Team.
The art world, a realm populated by masterpieces often hailed for their transgressive and controversial imagery, regularly butts against standards of decency and good taste in the fight for freedom of expression. Throughout history works of art have been altered, silenced and even erased due to unacceptable content, whether the motivations for censorship were religious, social or political.
From religion, to celebrities to other animated series, South Park’s choice of topics has managed to court controversy several times in its 15 years on the air. The show appears to be a crudely drawn and vulgar series but over the last years it has become widely recognized as a smart commentary on virtually all aspects of our culture.
Although it may not look like the most controversials works to contemporary eyes, Andrew Schoultz‘s “Bowing Man with South Park Robe” and Paul Insect‘s “Heat Of The Moment” were deemed immoral by South Park Public Relations Team. Andrew’s scene depicts a reverent man bowing and praying, while wearing a robe made from fabric that depicts the main characters from the show while Paul’s artwork shows Jerome “Chef” McElroy being shot by several police officers, a very current topic at the moment in the United States.
Coming from South Park, this censorship is wrong, very surprising and in total contradiction with the ideology the TV series represent.
We reached out to both artists which responded with the following statements:
“My painting has been censored and banned by the South Park Public Relations team, from the South Park 20th anniversary show, happening at Comedy Central’s South Park Art Gallery during this years Comic Con convention in San Diego.
This show was curated by Eric Allouche, who in no way can be held responsible for this decision. I was given no guide lines for the piece. I only knew it had to be about the TV show South Park. I was also never informed that my work could possibly be denied from the exhibition. I put a ton of thought, time, effort, and resources into the piece. As an artist i sincerely tried to make a work, that i felt was relevant and appropriate for such an exhibition.
In all honesty my intention was not even to create a piece that i thought was offensive and/or edgy. Given South Park’s long history of extremely challenging every, cultural, religious, and social norm, many times in an extremely politically incorrect way, i deemed my piece tame at best.
My painting simply depicts a reverent man bowing and praying, while wearing a robe made from fabric that depicts four of the main characters from the show in fabric pattern.. How is this offensive and or controversial i ask? And more so, even if it was, would not a South Park Exhibition be the appropriate place to show such work? My intention was never to depict any specific culture or religion… In fact, a general audience drawing a common conclusion like that, would have to do a lot more with mass medias depiction of different cultures and religion, than my own. And to me this is an important dialogue to have.
This is, in fact, the purpose of art in society. To create a dialogue and conversation about things that may not always be the easiest of topics to deal with, seems like a worthy and true reason to create art. People dressed in the fashion that i depict in my painting is a very common thing in movies, TV, and in Life, and are not directly related to any specific religion or culture. In fact, in the movie, “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, the main character Indiana Jones dresses similar in nearly half this motion picture. In fact, this way of dressing is very effective and common, when you are living in an erred or desert climate. In my paintings and art, i often time address such issues as Global Warming and water shortage. Men living in a world absent of water is actually the original intent of this particular figure. In this particular painting, i would more describe the figure to be a Shaman or a Healer bowing and praying for mankind, in a very meditative and calming way. It would have been more than acceptable to have any and all of this information present next to my work, in case a viewer had questions.
I find it truly disappointing and hypocritical, that especially a show such as South Park, would participate in such a thing as censorship, when in all fairness, a huge part of there reputation and fame came from testing these very boundaries in society. Comic Con is known for its craziness and theatrical costumes worn by fans, some of which can veer toward extreme gore, and sex.
Last year i saw people dressed as Zombies, with bloody bite marks all over them, and i also saw Porn stars dressed as scantily clad super heroes… Neither of which i find offensive, however the point being, that This hardly seems like the environment to be judging what is appropriate and what is not, which just adds to how hugely ironic this whole situation is.
Anyway- I feel like the way I am being treated by the South Park PR team is not only hypocritical, but simply wrong. If they want to act in such a way, i believe they should be held accountable for their practices and it should be know that their spirit, is very much in contradiction with the TV show that they represent.” — Andrew Schoultz
“Its a form contradictory censorship from a program that lives off cultural controversy.” — Paul Insect