French Politician Attacks Anish Kapoor After Decision to Keep Versailles Vandalism

A right-leaning politician sees Kapoor as complicit in the hate crime.

Anish Kapoor's Dirty Corner after it was vandalized. Courtesy of Anish Kapoor.
French President François Hollande met with artist Anish Kapoor at the Elysée palace in Paris on September 8 2015 <br>Photo; AFP/Alain Jocard via Le Parisien

French President François Hollande met with artist Anish Kapoor at the Elysée Palace in Paris on September 8, 2015. 
Photo; AFP/Alain Jocard via Le Parisien.

Anish Kapoor privately met with French President Francois Hollande on September 8, following the second act of vandalism against his controversial sculpture Dirty Corner, which is currently installed in the gardens of Versailles. The meeting was not open to members of the press.

Over the weekend, the massive steel sculpture known as “the queen’s vagina,” was defaced with anti-Semitic phrases such as “SS blood sacrifice,” “the second RAPE of the nation by DEVIANT JEWISH activism,” and “Christ is king in Versailles.”

The French President has called the vandalism “hateful and anti-Semitic.”

However, rather than removing the slogans, Kapoor decided to leave the piece as is. “I had already questioned the wisdom of cleaning it after the first vandalism. This time, I am convinced that nothing should be removed from these slurs, from these words which belong to antisemitism that we’d rather forget,” Kapoor told Le Figaro

Dirty Corner allows this dirty politics to expose itself fully,” Kapoor said on his Instagram page.

This decision isn’t sitting well with local politicians. Le Parisien reports that elected official Fabien Bouglé, Councillor of Versailles, contested the artist’s decision and has filed a complaint with the local public prosecutor on Tuesday against the artist and Catherine Pégard, president of Versailles, for “inciting racial hatred, public insults, and complicity in these crimes.”

In a copy of the complaint obtained by the AFP, Bouglé argues that “Catherine Pégard and Mr. Anish Kapoor fully recognize the antisemitic content of these slogans,” and are therefore complicit if they leave the sculpture untouched. Bouglé, who is a right leaning politician and was involved in the movement against marriage equality, has commented favorably on the previous attack on the work in June, calling it “an artistic expression” and referring to the act as “poetic justice.”

Meanwhile, French Minister of Culture Fleur Pellerin weighed in on Kapoor’s decision in an interview with Canal+ on Tuesday, saying, “I have to respect the choice of the artist.” She added that the public debates surrounding Kapoor’s decision “are extremely interesting and raise the question of creative freedom.” 

Kapoor, who visited Versailles before meeting with the French president yesterday, has expressed his “great sadness” at the damage to the work. “Honestly I came here thinking I was going to cry,” he told the press in the video, which is dubbed into French, and described the visit as “like being at a funeral, a funeral of culture.”

He also saw a connection between the hateful slogans and the current refugee crisis in Europe. “What does it say about us,” he asked. “It is not just graffiti, it is a criminal act,” he added, asking that the perpetrators be found and prosecuted.

As the French and international media debate the British artist’s stance, and pen opinion pieces on the rise of “cultural fascism” in France, gallerist Kamel Mennour, who represents the artist in Paris and joined him at the meeting with President Hollande, called for an end of “French bashing” in a televised interview with Europe1, adding, “We’re the best.”

Related stories:

Anish Kapoor Refuses to Remove Vandals’ Anti-Semitic Slogans from Versailles Sculpture

Anish Kapoor Claims Vandalization of His Versailles Sculpture Was Politically Motivated

Anish Kapoor Deeply Saddened by Vandalization of “Vagina Sculpture” at Versailles

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