Moscow, April 2, 2015
The Russian Federation’s Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky answered the questions of a spokesman of the Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper concerning the sacking of the director of a Siberian theatre, after his modern, offensive staging of Wagner’s opera Tannhauser.
“I believe the heads of large government institutions should understand that the freedom of creative work presupposes a very serious responsibility: you must realize what you are doing, how, and for what purpose you are doing this,” Vladimir Medinsky said.
“I was told that (theater director) Timofey Kulyabin had shown creative courage. And I asked in return: “Are you a very courageous person? Replace Christ with Muhammad. The latter’s canonical biography has little-studied moments as well. Let us add our own fantasies into it. Are you afraid you will not be able to return home on the same day? And how about inventing a new interpretation of the history of Holocaust? Why are you not undertaking such a venture? That is by no means creative courage; but rather folly and provocation. Alas, provocation is the easiest way to fame.”
“If we let these matters take their course, then we allow the conflict to be aggravated. We may adopt all kinds of documents that sound beautiful, like “the principles of national policy,” take part in meetings with the President at the Kremlin, smile each other… But unless we determine what is permissible and what is off-limits, all this will not work. We should realize that among other things, culture is a set of certain taboos. It is this inner system of prohibitions that makes civilized people different from savages,” the minister also noted.