France: Artist Forced to Cover Up Anti-Semitic Graffiti

British-Indian artist Anish Kapoor has covered anti-Semitic graffiti on a controversial sculpture that was vandalized in France with gold leaf – but only just.  

Dabs of white paint could still be seen Wednesday at the edges of the gold leaf placed on the massive, funnel-like sculpture at the Palace of Versailles, which has been dubbed the "queen's vagina" for its sexual overtones.

In an interview with the artnet website, Kapoor said the choice to leave bits of the graffiti visible was deliberate.

"I have to transform it. Unraveling, finding an answer to a crime of hate and turn it into something else."

The 60-meter (200-foot) long, 10-meter high structure, officially called "Dirty Corner", was first vandalized in June and then cleaned.

Then two weeks ago it was covered in white paint with phrases such as "SS blood sacrifice" and "the second rape of the nation by deviant Jewish activism".  

Kapoor, 61, wanted the graffiti to remain to bear witness to hatred, and France's culture ministry said it was his choice.

However a local government official, who saw the phrases as a "grave violation of fundamental rights," objected and a judge ruled on Saturday that the graffiti must be removed.

The scrawlings were covered with black cloth and a team from Kapoor's art studio has laid gold leaf on the rocks around the sculpture, which were also defaced. They said the operation would be completed Wednesday.  

Kapoor told artnews, in an interview in Moscow, that he was appealing the court's decision.

"Culture is a victim of vandalism and hate," said Kapoor. "If vandalism and hate stops public experimentation, we all lose. If we stop that, we might as well live in a fascist state."

Kapoor's work is not the first to be defaced recently in France.

In October 2014, vandals in Paris's chic Place Vendome deflated a massive sculpture by American artist Paul McCarthy that was shaped like a sex toy.

AFP contributed to this report.


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