Friday, October 1, 2010


"Inimigos" at the 29th Sao Paulo International Biennial September 23, 2010

"An artist’s fantasies of assassinating Queen Elizabeth II, former US president George W. Bush and Pope Benedict XVI have triggered controversy in Brazil ahead of a major art show opening.

Nine charcoal sketch self-portraits of the Brazilian artist, Gil Vicente, in imaginary scenes murdering world leaders have become the focus of fierce debate, with the national lawyers’ association demanding they be taken down from the walls of the Sao Paulo Art Biennial, which starts Saturday.

“They claim it justifies crime. Stealing public money is not a crime? The reports on TV aren’t trying to justify crimes? Only my work is justification of crime?” an indignant Vicente said in an interview with AFP.

He and organizers insisted the works would be shown as planned in as one of the main exhibits in the Biennial despite the outrcry.

It was a question of artistic freedom, he said.
“They want to remove them. No, no way. Why remove them? People need to see this,” he said.
For the lawyer’s association, though, a public showing of the works was crossing a line.

“Even though a work of art freely expresses the creativity of its maker, without limits, there have to be limits to exhibiting it publicly,” it said, demanding the Biennial’s organizers remove the series.

But the organizers rejected that, saying in a statement: “A fundamental quality of our institution is curatorial independence and freedom of expression. The works exhibited to do not reflect the opinion of the curators nor of the Biennial Foundation.”

The series, called “Enemies,” was started in 2005 with a sketch of Bush, portrayed kneeling with his hands fastened behind his back and the figure of Vicente looming over him, thrusting a pistol towards his head.

Over a year, the artist completed the collection with images showing him preparing to shoot other leaders, including the pope, Britain’s queen, former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon, former UN secretary general Kofi Annan, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is also depicted being executed as he sits tied to a chair — but by the artist running a big knife across his throat."


By Gil Vicente

Original article here