Anish Kapoor's Vag Will Stay Dirty After Anti-Semitic Vandalism

Anish Kapoor has a dirty vagina, and he’s refusing to clean it on political grounds. The British-Indian artist famously — and controversially — installed giant sculptures at the Château de Versailles in France, as part of an exhibit running from June to October. Of the many works he created for the show, it has been a 60 meter-long steel tube called the “Dirty Corner” – that’s clearly a giant vagina –  facing the palace that has ignited a firestorm of debate. The backlash against the installation has reached its peak this week, with a horrendous, anti-Semitic defacement of the sculpture.

The defacement and decision not to clean it has reignited a dialogue that has gripped the country for years.

Unlike the defacement that occurred in June, a simple paint splatter, the new vandalism will not be removed, under the order of Sir Anish. The vandals that orchestrated the attack on the piece left horrifying messages targeting the Jewish population. The graffiti has led to public outcry and condemning statements from French politicians. According to palace management, the messages, done in white spray paint on the sculpture and surrounding rocks, included the following phrases: “SS blood sacrifice”, “Queen sacrificed, twice insulted”, “the second RAPE of the nation by DEVIANT JEWISH activism”, and “Christ is king in Versailles.” Unfortunately, the messages aren’t surprising, as a rash of anti-Semitism has swept the country. According to stats from Vanity Fair, 7,000 Jews have recently left France for Israel, and 851 anti-Semitic incidents occurred in 2014 alone. The graffiti has transcended vandalism; becoming a stark reminder of the climate of hate that has plagued France for the past several years.

Between President Francois Hollande calling the attack “hateful and anti-Semitic,” and French culture minister Fleur Pellerin saying it was an “attack on freedom of creation,” the vandalism has sparked a new dialogue on a long-running issue, adding a layer of depth to an already controversial sculpture.

The original sculpture before its defacement.
The original sculpture before its defacement.

As the news broke that Kapoor would not clean off the graffiti, he released a statement to the Art Newspaper, expressing sadness over the fact that his artwork had “become a receptacle for the dirty politics of anti-semitic vandals, racists and right-wing royalists.”

“I will not allow this act of violence and intolerance to be erased,” explained Kapoor. “Dirty Corner will now be marked with hate, and I will preserve these scars as a memory of this painful history.”

As police begin their investigation into the defacement, a simple transgression has lead to a larger conversation about the artistic and political implications of leaving the messages intact. The sculpture, once primarily known for its sexual implications, will now serve as a reminder of a long legacy of hate.

The vaginal piece and larger collection will remain at Versailles through October until the closing date of November 1st. You can read more about the exhibition here.

Photos by AFP via the Malay Mail Online, Francois Guillot (AFP) via Le Figaro, and Fabrice Seixas/Kapoor Studio.

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