Artwashing a Dictatorship

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Image by Marco Verch

Has spending millions on contemporary art and architecture helped Azerbaijan artwash its image?

As reported by HYPERALLERGIC on February 28 2021, by Nevdon Jamgochian

Azerbaijan’s campaign of artwashing has been a concerted effort for over a decade.

Since at least 2011, Azerbaijan has used artists and art institutions for propaganda purposes to a degree that is unequaled in the contemporary era. In the last decade, scores of artists and institutions have taken money from the brutal dictatorship of Azerbaijan to “artwash” its reputation. This is especially important to call attention to now, since Azerbaijan is actively engaged in ethnically cleansing an indigenous community and destroying millennia-old monuments, permanently robbing the world of a rich cultural record. To preserve endangered and invaluable artifacts, the art world needs to stop normalizing Azerbaijan’s monstrous behavior and start accepting responsibility for platforming despots. Any artist or cultural group that receives patronage or money from Azerbaijan is complicit with war crimes, oppression, and ethnic cleansing.

Recently, investigative journalists from the Organized Crime and Reporting Project (OCCRP) caught Azerbaijan buying votes and silencing critics in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), which ironically investigates corruption and has some cultural activities. This fallout from this exposed corruption and bribery lead to the expulsion of 13 members of the Council of Europe.  

Read the full in-depth investigative journalism report by HYPERALLERGIC to learn more about the propaganda, corruption, violation of human rights, and criminal activities by Azerbaijan.

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