Right Wing Politician Says Anish Kapoor ‘Has Declared War on France’
Some people just don't know when to stop.
Anish Kapoor had no idea what he was getting into when he accepted the invitation to install artworks in the gardens of Versailles. On September 30, right wing politician Fabien Bouglé, a local councilman, published an article on the website of Nouvel Observateur in which he claims that the artist “has declared war on France” and urges Kapoor to “stop the war on our country.”
The article appeared only three days after the sculpture Dirty Corner was vandalized for the fourth time—an unknown attacker scratched the word “Blame” into the gold leaf that now covers the previous defacing.
In the article, Bouglé describes the installation by the British-Indian star artist as an “act of provocation and war against France and the French” and accuses Kapoor of having damaged “a part of the renown” of the palace at Versailles. Bouglé goes on to denounce the remarks Kapoor made in an interview earlier this year in which the artist explained that he wanted to “invite chaos to Versailles,” and “upset the balance.”
In early September, Kapoor’s sculpture, which became 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.”
Kapoor wanted to leave the hateful slogans untouched as a reminder of the “dirty politics” that inspired them, saying that the work has “become a receptacle for the dirty politics of anti-semitic vandals, racists, and right-wing royalists.” The French President Francois Hollande invited Kapoor to the Elysée Palace, and called the vandalism “hateful and anti-semitic.”
But that didn’t sit well with Fabien Bouglé. The councilman filed a complaint with the local public prosecutor against the artist and Catherine Pégard, president of Versailles, for “inciting racial hatred, public insults, and complicity in these crimes.” He twistedly argued that “Catherine Pégard and Mr. Anish Kapoor fully recognize the anti-semitic content of these slogans,” and were therefore complicit if they leave the sculpture untouched (Bouglé has also commented favorably on the very first attack on the work in June).
Bouglé won the court case. On September 19, a Versailles court ruled that the anti-Semitic graffiti must be wiped off “without delay” from the sculptures and surrounding stones.
“We lost, can you believe it?” Kapoor told artnet News. “Some very racist, in my view, deputy from parliament took me to court. We were forced to hide the graffiti. It’s a terrible, sad thing.” Taking to Instagram, Kapoor likened the court ruling to “a woman [getting] raped and blamed for her own rape.”
Kapoor then covered the graffiti with gold leaf, commenting that, “in fact the Judgment was not passed against me, the Artist, but against Catherine Pegard, President of the Chateau de Versailles. I was NOT cited in this litigation. Furthermore this judgement has no effect on me or my ability to modify the sculpture as I see fit, as the author of the work.”
As if to make sure that the artist is directly addressed by his vitriolic attacks, Bouglé declares in his article that “Anish Kapoor has hurt the French” and “has created a systemic shock and injury that the French are not ready to forget.”
It is worth noting that no one has been arrested yet in connection with the repeated acts of vandalism.
To be continued.
Follow artnet News on Facebook:
Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.