News / Ottawa

The show must go on for 'banned art'

A Toronto artist who says she is blacklisted by the federal government stopped in Ottawa Wednesday to unveil her “Banned on the Hill” art show on Bank Street.

Franke James held a walking art tour of six new backlit banners that stretch from Wellington to Queen streets along Bank Street. The banners mix visuals and messages critical of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Canada's stance on climate change.

James launched her campaign after her plan for a 20-city visual art tour in Europe this summer was scuttled. James alleges the Canadian government put pressure on European backers to withdraw support because her show was critical of oil sands development.

She said Monday she obtained emails through an Access to Information request, which show that $5,000 in funding was given the green light on April 29 for her show. Subsequent emails show a government official reversed the decision three days later.

When they were contacted in August, The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade said little about James' complaints.

“Ultimately, Canadian missions did not fund this artist's European tour,” department spokesperson Jean-François Lacelle said in an email to the Toronto Star.

To spread the word about her apparent muzzling, she raised $4,226 crowd-sourced funds to erect the “banned art”, which will be on display until Nov. 27.

“I hope to raise awareness about this blacklisting and silencing of environmental voices and also my particular situation,” she said.

“I don't work for the government so I can use my creativity and social media skills to put my message out there in a fun and engaging way that anyone ca understand.”

More on