• Steven Heller

The Daily Heller: Goths, Vandals, Tolerance and Intolerance

You'd think that extolling the virtues of tolerance and acceptance would be tolerated and accepted in our current world. Well, think again. The internationally traveling Tolerance poster exhibition has had its fair share of unexpected, not always welcome consequences. The series of posters, curated by Mirko Ilić and offered free of charge to any group or organization that has a public venue in which to hang them, has been vandalized and some have stolen. Most recently in Timisoara, Romania, where the exhibition opened on Nov. 16—a period coinciding with the Romanian parliamentary election campaign.





As designer and historian Ovidiu Hrin reports: The first aggressive reaction toward the exhibition happened on social media, and it might have served as the catalyst for what followed. On Nov. 20, the local candidates of a conservatory party appeared live on Facebook to create a stir around it (besides voicing an anti-LGBTQI+ discourse, they also accused a competing political party of being behind the exhibition with a hidden agenda of "destroying national values" and "perverting the innocence of children").




Soon after, two of the "insulting" and "offensive" posters in the show were stolen overnight (and recorded on video). The exhibition team reprinted four extra copies and reattached them. The same two posters were then repeatedly stolen and replaced. On Dec. 2, the same two posters expressing tolerance for LGBTQI+ rights, by artists David Tartakover (Israel) and Levente Benedek (Romania), were vandalized with graffiti. And on Dec. 5, two days before the close of the exhibition, 24 of the 58 posters were stolen, randomly, leaving the exhibition half-dismantled.


The Tolerance 2020 poster show in Romania was organized to mark the UN International Day of Tolerance. The exhibitions were curated by Ovidiu Hrin (TypopassageTM) and Mirko Ilić (The Tolerance Project). These are all the countries on the list are linked to my blog posts.

Next to the country name, the numeral indicates the number of shows in that country and the hashtag (#) marks countries where posters were destroyed or vandalized.


Austria 1

Bosnia & Herzegovina 3

Canada 1

China 1

Colombia 1

Croatia 10 #

Denmark 1

Dominican Republic 2

England 1

Finland 2

Holland 1

Hungary 3

Iceland 1

Indonesia 3

Italy 1

Lebanon 2

Moldova 1

Montenegro 1

North Macedonia 1

Portugal 8

Romania 6 #

Russia 1 #

Serbia 6

Slovakia 1 #

Slovenia 5 #

South Africa 3

South Korea 2

Spain 6

Taiwan 1

Thailand 1

Turkey 3

Ukraine 4

United Arab Emirates 3

USA 7 (not yet shown in New York)


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