“Art is caught between a puritanism on the right and a puritanism on the left”

Dn a conference, on May 16 at the National Library of France, the historian Antoine Compagnon told “the 1966 revolution”and how, in the spring of that year, two works gave rise to a monstrous scandal as they shocked the Catholic bourgeois: the film The nunby Jacques Rivette, banned by the State, and the play Screensby Jean Genet, with violence in the hall of the Odéon and outside.

In both cases, conservative France raised the mayonnaise of indignation. And Compagnon to make the link, not without malice, with the way in which the extreme right recently demonized a painting by the Swiss artist Miriam Cahn, abstraction!after its hanging at the Palais de Tokyo: a fragile figure on her knees, forced to perform on a powerful and faceless character, therefore dehumanized.

This work symbolizes Russian aggression in Ukraine, the artist explained. It is a pedophile scene because the victim is a child, retorted elected officials from the National Rally (RN) and ociations. A confidential painting was propelled on the Web by those who did not want to see it, with the effect that it was widely seen and as a result of being stained with purple liquid by a former elected frontist.

Censors on the left

There is a kind of resurgence of a rancid perfume between the censorship of yesteryear, which Jean-Luc Godard described as “Gestapo of the mind”, and that of today. On May 13, relatives of the far-right fundamentalist party Civitas prevented the organ concert that the American Kali Malone was to give in a church in Carnac (Morbihan), judging it “blasphemous”. In April, it’s a concert by the LGBT icon Bilal Haniin a deconsecrated church in Metz, which was cancelled.

The Observatory of creative freedom, linked to the League of Human Rights, deplores a recent increase in threats, insults, cancellations, censorship. “It doesn’t stop”note its managers, Agnès Tricoire and François Lecercle (Release of May 11). According to them, the Miriam Cahn case gives an idea of ​​the RN’s cultural project. But they also note that the censors are now on the left. “When we see progressive groups hold an extreme right speech in relation to the works, there is something to be devastated. The left should rather deal with the social terrain than with the identity terrain”, they add in the daily newspaper.

Art is caught between a puritanism on the right and a puritanism on the left. The former in the name of a civilization to be defended, the latter of minorities to be protected. To instrumentalize art is to forget its primary function, “training the imagination”to use the beautiful formula of Miriam Cahn delivered to Artpress in March.

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