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Versailles: Vandals target ‘Queen’s vagina’ again

A controversial sculpture, known as the "queen's vagina", that is on display at the Palace of Versailles, was vandalised on Sunday for the second time. The French president condemned the anti-Semitic graffiti scrawled all over the installation.

Versailles: Vandals target 'Queen's vagina' again
The "Queen's Vagina" at Versailles has been hit by vandals again. Photo: AFP

Officially known as “Dirty Corner,” the giant steel funnel that artist Anish Kapoor himself has described as “very sexual” was covered in anti-Semitic graffiti in white paint, said Versailles president Catherine Pegard.

Phrases such as “Queen sacrificed, twice insulted” and “the second rape of the nation by deviant Jewish activism” covered the sculpture by the British-Indian artist.

“This act of intolerable violence against the work of an international artists shocks and saddens me,” Pegard told journalists after inspecting the damage.

 

 

President François Hollande also released a statement on Sunday “strongly denouncing” the act of vandalism.

The 60-metre (200-foot) long, 10-metre (33-foot) high steel-and-rock abstract sculpture is set up in the garden aimed directly at the royal chateau, which attracts five million tourists a year.

When it was first unveiled in June the piece was sprayed with yellow paint.

The sculpture is one of several by Kapoor on exhibition in the gardens and inside one room of the palace until November.

Kapoor has described the piece as “the vagina of a queen who is taking power.”

Kapoor's exhibition is one of the most controversial at Versailles since the authorities in 2008 opened the palace and its grounds to contemporary artists.

In 2008, Versailles hosted works by American artist Jeff Koons, and in 2010 by Japanese artist Takashi Murakami.

“The very controlled landscape of Versailles is drawn into instability. The grounds become uncertain and moving. Waters swirl. The mirrors that are so central to Versailles now distort it,” reads the description of Kapoor's display.

“This world is perhaps about to tip over.”

Kapoor who has said he wants sculpture to be not about form but about belief, passion or experience, has become known for his massive public figures.

His work is not the first to raise anger in France.

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

McCarthy then decided to take down the work, which had both outraged and amused Parisians.

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ARCHITECTURE

Futuristic Gehry tower opens in World Heritage Arles

Rising high beyond an ancient Roman arena in Arles, a tall, twisted tower created by Frank Gehry shimmers in the sun, the latest futuristic addition to this southern French city known for its World Heritage sites.

Futuristic Gehry tower opens in World Heritage Arles
Gehry's Luma Tower opens in Arles, France. Photo: H I / Pixabay

The tower, which opens to the public on Saturday, is the flagship attraction of a new “creative campus” conceived by the Swiss Luma arts foundation that wants to offer artists a space to create, collaborate and showcase their work.

Gehry, the 92-year-old brain behind Bilbao’s Guggenheim museum and Los Angeles’ Walt Disney Concert Hall, wrapped 11,000 stainless steel panels around his tower above a huge glass round base.

It will house contemporary art exhibitions, a library, and offices, while the Luma Arles campus as a whole will host conferences and live performances.

From a distance, the structure reflects the changing lights of this town that inspired Van Gogh, capturing the whiteness of the limestone Alpilles mountain range nearby which glows a fierce orange when the sun sets.

Mustapha Bouhayati, the head of Luma Arles, says the town is no stranger to
imposing monuments; its ancient Roman arena and theatre have long drawn the
crowds.

The tower is just the latest addition, he says. “We’re building the heritage of tomorrow.”

Luma Arles spreads out over a huge former industrial wasteland.

Maja Hoffmann, a Swiss patron of the arts who created the foundation, says
the site took seven years to build and many more years to conceive.

Maja Hoffmann, founder and president of the Luma Foundation. Photo: Pascal GUYOT / AFP

Aside from the tower, Luma Arles also has exhibition and performance spaces in former industrial buildings, a phosphorescent skatepark created by South Korean artist Koo Jeong A and a sprawling public park conceived by Belgian landscape architect Bas Smets.

‘Arles chose me’

The wealthy great-granddaughter of a founder of Swiss drug giant Roche, Hoffmann has for years been involved in the world of contemporary art, like her grandmother before her.

A documentary producer and arts collector, she owns photos by Annie Leibovitz and Diane Arbus and says she hung out with Jean-Michel Basquiat in New York.

Her foundation’s stated aim is to promote artists and their work, with a special interest in environmental issues, human rights, education and culture.

She refuses to answer a question on how much the project in Arles cost. But as to why she chose the 53,000-strong town, Hoffmann responds: “I did not choose Arles, Arles chose me.”

She moved there as a baby when her father Luc Hoffmann, who co-founded WWF,
created a reserve to preserve the biodiversity of the Camargue, a region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Rhone river delta known for its pink flamingos.

The tower reflects that, with Camargue salt used as mural panels and the
delta’s algae as textile dye.

Hoffmann says she wants her project to attract more visitors in the winter, in a town where nearly a quarter of the population lives under the poverty line.

Some 190 people will be working at the Luma project over the summer, Bouhayati says, adding that Hoffman has created an “ecosystem for creation”.

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