Naomi Rea – French Court Sides With Artist Who Exhibited Her Vagina at the Louvre, Deeming It Non-Sexual

The artist objects to what she calls the ‘depoliticization’ of her genitals.

French-Luxembourgish performance artist Deborah De Robertis has been cleared of sexual exhibitionism charges by Paris’s High Court.

Deborah de Robertis being forcibly removed from the Salle Mona Lisa on April 15, 2017 (foto Fabienne Costa)

Deborah de Robertis being forcibly removed from the Salle Mona Lisa on April 15, 2017 (foto Fabienne Costa)

The artist defended herself at a trial on Tuesday, October 18, after a complaint was filed by the Louvre regarding a controversial performance carried out in front of the Mona Lisa on September 24, which saw De Robertis expose her genitals.

The court ruled her actions did not constitute public exposure due to the absence of “the material element of the crime,” which is to say that spectators could not actually see her genitals because of her pubic hair. The court also acknowledged that the motivation for the offense was non-sexual in nature.

“The court has no legitimacy in deciding what is or is not art,” De Robertis asserted when speaking to artnet News, “but it has found that my work can not constitute an offense of sexual exhibitionism because of its political, activist, and artistic dimension.”

She went on to explain: “I show the genitals of women as they are, hairy and natural, and my nudity is not sexual because it refers to the pictorial nude.”

Deborah De Robertis performing My Pussy My Copyright in front of the Mona Lisa on September 24 (foto Deborah De Robertis)

Deborah De Robertis performing My Pussy My Copyright in front of the Mona Lisa on September 24 (foto Deborah De Robertis)

The artistic message behind De Robertis’s provocative artwork regards women’s place in the history of art, in which they have appeared so often as nude models but rarely as artists. According to experts, even the Mona Lisa might have originally been a nude (https://news.artnet.com/art-world/leonardo-mona-lisa-nude-drawing-1100744).

“Instead of looking at my vagina, look up and look around: where are the women?” De Robertis asks in her work. “See if they appear on the canvas or on the wall text. Who tells you that Mona Lisa did not paint?”

The artist also faced charges of assault for biting a guard’s jacket during her arrest, for which she was ordered to complete 35 hours of community service.

The performance in question was a follow-up to another carried out in front of the Mona Lisa earlier this year. The first performance offered a critical look at sexism in the art world, as it referenced a similar work carried out by Alberto Sorbelli in 1997 during which he exposed his buttocks in front of the painting. The Sorbelli happening is a celebrated moment of art history in France, and the reaction to De Robertis’s performance exposed an imbalance in the reception of a work when the same artistic gesture was performed by a woman. “His performance has been described as ‘historical’ and mine as ‘sexual performance,’” De Robertis told artnet News.

The second performance was a response to attempts by the Louvre to suppress her first artistic statement, and referenced VALIE EXPORT, the 1970s Austrian performance artist known for similarly provocative work.

Valie Export - Genital Panic

Valie Export – Genital Panic

On the occasion of De Robertis’s second Louvre performance, the museum evacuated the Salle de la Mona Lisa, although the artist continued her performance despite the lack of an audience. Police were called and the artist was locked up for 72 hours before the trial date was set, prompting her to ask “Would you recognize it better if the artist VALIE EXPORT reproduced it today?”

The performance also heralded the release of a video entitled Ma Chatte Mon Copyright (My Pussy My Copyright), in which you can see clips of her first performance at the Louvre. During the trial, the Louvre asked the court to ban De Robertis from its galleries, and to order the removal of all images of her performances from the web. “It is therefore clearly a matter of censorship, of infringing on my freedom of creation, of expression, and of coming and going,” she told artnet News.

Deborah De Robertis – Ma Chatte Mon Copyright

Censure : “Après censure de Youtube, j’ai choisi de partager ma vidéo. Je la publie ici dans l’espoir que vimeo aura l’intelligence de ne pas la censurer à son tour. Ce court-métrage ainsi que toutes mes vidéos sont des tableaux vivants diffusés sur les murs d’internet (bien que destinés à être exposés dans des lieux d’art).”

Soutenez la création : https://www.kisskissbankbank.com/lancement-ma-chatte-mon

“L’artiste franco-luxembourgeoise a fait de son corps un instrument politique et de son sexe un medium – avec un copyright de bon aloi. Geneviève Fraisse cite Michel Foucault : “Le sexe est une parole.” lit-on dans bla bla blog.
Ce court-métrage est un travail artistique asexuel. Le sujet n’est pas le sexe, mais l’émancipation du regard de la nudité et des modèles féminins nus dans l’Histoire de l’art. Mon travail fait référence au nu pictural et non à la nudité en tant que telle. Ma nudité est un vêtement. Considérer mon travail comme étant à caractère sexuel remet sur le devant de la scène l’absurde censure de L’Origine Du Monde. Lorsqu’il “sexprime” (cf. Miroir de L’Origine) au lieu d’être un simple objet de fanstasme sexuel, il est recadré par les institutions muséales comme par celles d’internet. Tout mon travail est à lire à travers L’Origine du Monde. Censurer mon sexe c’est censurer le sexe de L’Origine du Monde. Nier mon geste c’est nier l’Histoire qui m’a précédée (notamment VALIE EXPORT que j’ai réinterprété devant La Joconde lors de ma performance du 24 Septembre)…..”

Pitch:
Et si la nudité utilisait les musées ? A leur tour de rentrer dans mon cadre. Et si la muse du sexe de L’Origine du monde ouvrait la toile et s’invitait pour venir récupérer ce qui lui est dû ? Et si La Joconde explosait le cadre, en réclamant son fric à ceux qui utilisent son image à tout-va ? Si son sourire figure sur de vulgaires tasses, sacs et portes-clés, c’est à elle de récolter le fruit de ces reproductions. A leur tour de gérer leur business !
Et si ces deux icônes s’incarnaient aujourd’hui en 2017 ? Sans aucun doute leur slogan serait “MA CHATTE MON © ”
Afin de réfléchir à la question du corps, du regard, du copyright, je réunis autour de ce projet la philosophe Geneviève Fraisse, l’avocate Marie Dosé et la directrice du Centre culturel de Neimënster Ainoha Achutegui qui chacune de leur point de vue éclairent mon geste.
Le clip “MA CHATTE MON ©” a été tourné en grande partie dans les célèbres STUDIOS ROUCHON qui ont accepté de m’ouvrir leurs portes et de soutenir le projet !

De nombreux artistes ont collaboré !
Il est le fruit d’un featuring avec la rappeuse Mac Manu, le rappeur Yaway. Plusieurs artistes ont collaboré activement à ce projet: Aurore Le Duc des supporters de l’art contemporain, la violoniste Maria Poljanic Dj Idem Big factory Records, Dj MTalmi, Dj Parysee… ainsi que Nina El Polin, Bruno Brazete, Pilou Guetta, le chorégraphe Jp Chandler…

Soutenez la création: https://www.kisskissbankbank.com/lancement-ma-chatte-mon

Ma Chatte Mon Copyright from Deborah De Robertis on Vimeo.

https://vimeo.com/237069073

The film has been censored by YouTube and Facebook, and other sites have imposed an age restriction on it, something De Robertis sees as hypocritical given the non-sexual nature of her performance, and the lack of censorship around much more sexually explicit content, such as Robin Thicke’s infamous video for the song Blurred Lines. “As long as female nudity remains mute and domesticable, it is tolerated and thus viewed and shared,” she said.

To demonstrate the absurdity of such censorship, she uploaded the video to a porn website with a disclaimer promising no sexual content. “It is not a question of being for or against porn,” she explained, “but of rejecting the systematic depoliticization of my genitals, which are a tool of expression,” she said. “To open my legs is to open my mouth.”

De Robertis has a history of being embroiled in such stunts. In February, she was acquitted on charges of indecent exposure (https://news.artnet.com/art-world/deborah-de-robertis-acquitted-nude-performance-art-841805) for performances at at Paris’s Maison Européenne de la Photographie and Musée des Arts Décoratifs (https://news.artnet.com/art-world/nude-performance-artist-deborah-de-robertis-court-783455). In January 2016, she was arrested (https://news.artnet.com/art-world/nude-artist-deborah-de-robertis-speaks-out-409331) at the Musée D’Orsay for indecent exposure after lying down naked in front of Edouard Manet’s painting of the prostitute Olympia, and in May 2014, she spread her legs in front of Gustave Courbet (http://www.artnet.com/artists/gustave-courbet/)’s The Origin of the World, also at the Orsay.

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artnet News, October 20, 2017

https://news.artnet.com/art-world/jack-whitten-show-baltimore-met-1121633

https://robscholtemuseum.nl/edzard-dideric-korte-geschiedenis-110-van-de-leesclub/deborah-de-robertis-lorigine-du-monde-censored-foto-pinterest/