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The crusade of the French far-right against an artist accused of "pedopornography"


Le Pen's party is leading a campaign against Swiss painter Miriam Cahn, who is exhibiting a work on forced fellatio at a Paris museum. Her censors believe that the victim is a minor and demand her removal. Justice has given the reason to the artist

The painting is titled

Fuck Abstraction


It depicts a corpulent man forcing a handcuffed victim to give him fellatio, along with another kneeling figure he holds by the head.

The work has been exhibited since February as part of a retrospective dedicated to the Swiss artist Miriam Cahn at the Palais de Tokyo, perhaps the most prestigious contemporary art center in Paris.

No one had noticed the canvas, surrounded as it was by other disturbing prints of the most heinous war crimes.

Until the extreme right of Marine Le Pen discovered the work and demanded that it be taken down immediately from this public museum.

Cahn's censors consider the victim in the painting to be a minor.

The artist assures that she is not like that: her undeniable complexion difference would only be a poetic license to distinguish her victim from her executioner.

These two perceptions have led to the biggest cultural controversy of the season in Paris.

The case has ended in court.

Following the accusation by Le Pen's party, the National Rally (RN), six associations against child violence brought the Swiss painter before the Administrative Court of Paris.

They demanded to censor that work and prohibit the exhibition to those under 18 years of age.

However, the French justice ruled this Tuesday in favor of the artist and considered that the complaint is unfounded.

In her car

View of the Miriam Cahn exhibition at the Palais de Tokyo (Paris).

The painting accused of "pedopornography", 'Fuck Abstraction', is second from the right. AURÉLIEN MOLE

The Parisian museum where Cahn's show,

My Serial Thought

, is on display, applauded the decision and denounced "the instrumentalization of the work of art and the contempt for the role of museums" shown by the extreme right, it said in a statement.

Despite everything, the Palais de Tokyo has reinforced this week the mediation around the work, making a team of guides available to the visitor who specify the artist's intentions.

At Cahn's request, an explanatory text has also been added next to the work, which ensures that the work alludes to the war in Ukraine and the Bucha massacre.

“They are not children.

The painting deals with how sexuality is used as a weapon of war, as a crime against humanity.

The contrast between the two bodies shows the bodily power of the oppressor”, Cahn has defended himself, who in other paintings also denounced the violence committed in the framework of the Balkan war or in the Persian Gulf.

Nearly 45,000 people have already visited the exhibition, which brings together 200 of Cahn's works and which will remain open in Paris until May 14.

Even so, this story might not end here.

The Association Juristas por la Infancia, which has branded this work as "pedopornographic", assures that it will appeal the judicial decision before the Council of State, the country's highest administrative authority.

Behind the campaign is Caroline Parmentier, media deputy for the RN of Le Pen.

She started it in mid-March through her social networks, when she went to the Palais de Tokyo to see the painting with her own eyes, which other personalities had already opposed, such as the television presenter Karl Zéro .

“Nothing justifies this exhibition, not even denouncing the war.

This work is an incitement and a nod to predators and child aggressors, ”she said in a video recorded in the museum rooms.

Days later, Parmentier faced French Culture Minister Rima Abdul Malak during a plenary session in the National Assembly, with Le Pen nodding and applauding alongside his deputy.

“The artist's intention is diametrically opposed to your interpretation.

art can offend

"This work is an incitement and a nod to predators and child aggressors", said the deputy Caroline Parmentier, close to Le Pen

The works of Cahn, 73, have been exhibited at the biggest events in contemporary art, such as Documenta in Kassel, the Venice Biennale or the last Arco fair in Madrid.

In 2019, she also starred in an exhibition at the Reina Sofía Museum without causing any scandal.

When presenting her retrospective in Paris in mid-February, the artist assured that she thought with "her guts and not with her brain", which could explain the visceral energy that emanates from her gloomy painting, with its radioactive content under a deceptively childish stroke. .

It is not the first time that the French extreme right has used culture as a battlefield.

At the end of last year, the RN already battled to obtain the cancellation of an exhibition by cartoonist Bastien Vivès, invited to the Angoulême Festival, the most important in the comics sector.

An association for the protection of children had denounced Vivès, author of acclaimed books such as

El sabor del cloro


Una hermana

—but also three other volumes that included uncomfortable drawings, of sexual content, starring minors—, for “dissemination of pedo-pornographic images.

Behind this campaign was Parmentier, who has specialized in the fight for the defense of “common values”.

The room dedicated to the works of Miriam Cahn at the 2022 Venice Biennale. Giuseppe Anello / Alamy

In reality, these culture wars have been a specialty of the French far right for decades.

The strategy is always the same: denounce the elitism of contemporary art circles, vindicate the historical heritage and the beauty of lifelong art.

It allows them to mobilize their electorate with their apology for traditionalism, seduce the religious flank of the more moderate right and, above all, fill headlines.

In 2014, an inflatable work by American artist Paul McCarthy, depicting a Christmas tree in the form of a giant sex toy, sparked protests from the ultra-conservative Printemps Français collective, which was created during mass demonstrations against gay marriage in France.

In 2011, the extremist association Civitas also protested against the two plays, directed by Romeo Castellucci and Andrés Serrano, for their alleged blasphemy.

In the eighties, the National Front, the previous brand of the RN, had already been outraged by the decorative columns that Daniel Buren installed in the Palais Royal in Paris.

For extremists, contemporary art is part of the “unbearable reality of a society in full decline”, as Le Pen once put it.

Which they do not hesitate to imitate, for some time now,

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Source: elparis

All life articles on 2023-03-29

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