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Should the Anti-Semitic Slogans Remain on the Sculpture by Anish Kapoor in Versailles ?

  • Anish Kapoor Versailles
September 8, 2015
Anika Dačić graduated in Comparative Literature and Literary Theory from the Faculty of Philology in Belgrade and is currently pursuing MA in Literary and Cultural Studies. Her interests lie in social and cultural aspects of contemporary art production and she especially enjoys writing about street and urban art. Likes to knit, play adventure video games and host quiz nights at a local bar.

Whether intentionally or not, the work of Anish Kapoor is more than often the subject of many controversies. Recently, his much debated Dirty Corner sculpture displayed at gardens of Palace of Versailles, at his retrospective exhibition, was vandalized for the second time, with anti-Semitic messages sprayed all over the artwork and the rocks around it. The creator of the piece is outraged by the hateful slogans, condemning the act, but this time he refuses to remove the inscriptions. The slogans will permanently stay on the artwork as a reminder of the intolerance throughout our history.

 Versailles palace gardens june work 2015
The hateful vandals’ messages won’t be removed as latest statements go

Vandalized Dirty Corner

Dirty Corner installation was attracting much attention on its own, let alone after these two incidents. Even before the exhibition started, there were debates regarding the nature of the sculpture which was seen as offensive. Dirty Corner, later known as the “vagina sculpture” was seen as the abomination, an unacceptable reference to queen’s vagina, and many wondered if Château de Versailles was the right place for it. Nevertheless, the piece was showcased, becoming one of the highlights of the exhibition and also one of the main targets of unsatisfied individuals. Dirty Corner was vandalized previously in June, when the artwork was splattered with yellow paint. Soon after the paint was removed and the sculpture cleaned, only to become the target of vandals once again.

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Conservative and anti-Semitic messages on the Dirty Corner artwork

Anish Kapoor’s Reactions

Last week anti-Semitic graffiti were written all over the piece, bringing messages such as “SS blood sacrifice,” “Queen sacrificed, twice insulted,” and “Christ is king in Versailles”. In the political context of the French state which has the largest Jewish community in Europe, the inscribed slogans were strongly condemned by Anish Kapoor and French officials alike. However, to the general surprise, the artist decided not to take any actions and to leave the messages as they are, stating: “I will not allow this act of violence and intolerance to be erased. Dirty Corner will now be marked with hate and I will preserve these scars as a memory of this painful history.”

Dirty Corner vandalized second time palace work home
Vandalized Dirty Corner

Should Anti-Semitic Slogans Be Removed?

Although many see the vandals’ slogans as the attack on artistic creativity and an abomination, the Turner Prize winner has refused to remove the hateful messages. In a new context these messages can be seen as reminder of those shameful and atrocious moments in history and devastating results of racial hatred which we tend to forget. Rather than anti-Semitic frustrations of ultra-conservative individuals, those messages, in a new context, become the statement of the ever present acts of hate-filled groups of people who are one of the leading reasons why minority groups are excluded all over the world. Anish Kapoor also said that: “From now on, in the name of our universal principles, these abominable words will become part of my work, they will overlay it and stigmatize it.” Disgraced sculpture thus becomes the witness of shameful acts against the human dignity and a message they should never be forgotten or repeated.

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