NEW YORK --- To a crowd of Manhattan scenesters, media types and celebrities at the Gagosian Gallery Tuesday, Madonna introduced her latest endeavor, a short film call called "secretprojectrevolution" to go with the launch of her project "Art for Freedom," a website that will serve as a digital platform for artistic expression.
"The idea of freedom and to be able to fully express myself -- not only as an artist but as a human being -- is very important, and I do not take my freedom for granted," Madonna said in speech at the event. "It seems to me everywhere I travel in the world -- as I do quite frequently -- that people are either not free and fighting for it, or free and taking it for granted, and both of those situations make me extremely agitated."
Madonna brought up Russian punk group Pussy Riot and Chinese artist Ai Weiwei , both of whom have faced persecution by their respective governments, as examples of artistic freedom being stifled.
Madonna is partnering with digital download service BitTorrent and Vice media to launch her "Art for Freedom" platform, which she hopes will start a revolution. The pop star says it will be a place where "we invite artists, or people who have a story to tell, to make a film, write a story, paint a picture, take a photograph, share with us through your art, what your definition of freedom is."
In the film, which has been screened in other places around the world and was posted online after the event, Madonna and other depicted artists are jailed and abused by their captors. It also features a scantily clad Madonna brandishing a gun, a scene that drew controversy when a promotion for the film was posted the day after the Navy Yard shooting.
"I work with metaphors and symbols and irony," she said at the screening, adding, "No, I do not condone violence. But there's a lot of people that try to show people up with guns, and other weapons."
The screening also included a live performance of the dancers in the film, as well as a song by Madonna herself, covering Elliott Smith's "Between the Bars" with a cameo by her son Rocco, 13.
"I want to start a movement of people, of artists who are not worried about winning popularity contests, who are not worried about approval. who are not worried about whether their ass is good -- though it is important to have a good ass," she said.