Ruling Out Art: Media Art Meets Law In Ontario Censor Wars

In the 1980s, the Ontario government engaged in a series of legal skirmishes with media arts communities. Its Board of Censors – responsible for the classification and approval of all film and video exhibited in the province – began to subject artists’ work to the same cuts, bans, and warning labels as commercial film.


Ruling Out Art, a new book by Taryn Sirove, reveals what happens when art and law intersect, when artists, arts exhibitors, and their anti-censorship allies enter courts of law as appellants, defendants, or expert witnesses. Sirove argues that the administration of culture during Ontario’s censor wars was not a simple top-down exercise. Members of arts communities mounted grassroots protests and engaged the
province in court cases, ultimately influencing how the province interpreted freedom of expression, a fundamental and far-reaching legal right. The language of the law in turn shaped the way artists conceived of their own practices. A timely launch, given the changes currently
underway regarding film regulation in Ontario.



Free event that will feature on-stage discussion with Sirove, a panel discussion, and video clips examining the long history of film regulation in Ontario.

Copies of Sirove’s book will be available for purchase.


This is a free event.