Not all of you were present at the opening of the show “Femina ou la réappropriation des modèles” at the Pavillon Vendôme (Clichy-La-Garenne), last Saturday, the 24th of January. For you and all the persons who were there, we want to sum up the facts which led to the present dead end situation.
During the installation, the curators were informed by the Town Hall of warning coming from a Federation of Muslim citizens of Clichy that some violence could occur as a consequence of the exhibition of the installation “Silence” by the artist Zoulikha Bouabdellah.
The artist who came personally to set up her art work was stunned by the turmoil and the misunderstanding of her work, which had already been shown in many museums in Berlin, Madrid and Paris .
The artist and the curators decided not to show “Silence”, and the artist explains :
“Following the incomprehension of my work “ Silence” I have taken the decision to withdraw it from the exhibition. I put this miscomprehension of the work down to the highly charged emotional atmosphere after the recent events in Paris, and I do not wish that this piece be
used as a excuse to further nourish confusion, and distress over erroneous interpretations of the work.
I am of muslim heritage ; my intention is not to shock , nor provoke but rather to propose a vision that will lead to dialogue. This vision concerns the connections between profane and sacred spaces , sacred as it concerns the place of women on the threshold of two worlds – because here the modernity of women is reconcilable with Islam, under the condition that the latter is not perverted to become an instrument of domination.
“Silence” was made in 2007- 2008 and has been exhibited many times in the United States , in Germany and more recently in France , without any controversy disturbing its presentation. Also, I question the reasons which push a certain fringe of French muslims to interpret this work as blasphemous . Neither the Koran , nor any surah or hadith nor sahib make reference to any interdiction concerning the cutting or appropriation of a rug “
However, many artists, among first ORLAN, and lenders are showing their opposition to the withdrawal of “Silence” by asking for the withdrawal of their own pieces, in solidarity with Zoulikha Bouabdellah. This is also the decision of Stephane Magnan, director of Les filles du calvaire Gallery which represents many artists of the show.
Now, we ask that Gilles Catoire, Mayor of Clichy, take a clear position regarding the only possible alternatives in front of this disguised infringement of freedom of expression : either he support the show of “Silence” or decide to close the exhibition.
He will then have to find a way to lead a constructive debate about freedom of expression and censorship, keeping the Pavillon Vendôme open. This is the present situation.
Femina ou la réappropriation des modèles
Until April 26th, 2015
Curators : Charlotte Boudon, Guillaume Lassere & Christine Ollier.
Artists : Pilar Albarracín, Zoulikha Bouabdellah, Nina Childress, Béatrice Cussol, Hélène Delprat, Lydie Jean-dit-Pannel, Carmela Garcia, Laura Henno, Mwangi Hutter, Karen Knorr, Ellen Kooi, Katinka Lampe, Iris Levasseur, Paloma Navares, ORLAN, Esther Teichmann, Trine Søndergaard, Brigitte Zieger.
Pavillon Vendôme – Centre d’art Contemporain
7 rue du Landy