With books still banned across the US, a museum in New York has made it possible for those defying tight censorship to share a selection of books that have been banned since 2021 in many US school districts, including multiple works by Toni Morrison, as well as to “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini, and several books that are seen as radical or dangerous.
Banned book reading room
Banned Books Room is presented in parallel with the multimedia exhibition at Fotografiska Museum in New York until October 22.
The exhibition includes the Ormay Project, which includes a collection of artist Eric Gottsman’s work based on the Urmay book; It is an Ethiopian book that was banned in 1980. The artist uses the book as a model for his creative photography work.
In his interview with the British newspaper “The Guardian”, the artist Gottsman, owner of the “Ormay” gallery and the initiator of the idea of the reading room, says that this room is intended to make room for uncomfortable ideas that are intended to be banned.
He adds: The idea of suppressing creative expression is anathema to me. I was shocked to realize that school districts just an hour or two away from New York City had banned books like The Bluest Eyes and Beloved by Toni Morrison.
Banning books in the United States
Gottesman explains that, through his work in the exhibition, he draws an analogy between the banning of books in Ethiopia in the 1980s and the current ban in the United States, saying: “Despite the vast differences between Ethiopia in the 1980s and contemporary America, there are similarities between the two cases, as many of these books were banned from To rewrite history and make claims about who should be allowed to exist publicly in our society.”
According to data collected by the American Library Association, book bans are currently at record levels in the United States.
The organization documented 1,269 requests to monitor library books and resources in 2022, which is the highest percentage in the twenty years in which the association monitored book bans. And 90% of those demands were efforts to ban multiple books, which is a massive escalation through 2021.