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"Présumés coupables, 10 years after" (June 2009)

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Marie-Laure Bernadac, Henry-Claude Cousseau and Stéphanie Moisdon are being brought before the Bordeaux magistrates’ criminal court by the examining judge Jean-Louis Crozier, after 6 years of investigation that produced no evidence to support the accusation against them—as confirmed by the regional education authority and the special police unit for minors—and after the state prosecutor of Bordeaux found in favor last year of dismissing the case. They are accused of having presented “violent and pornographic works” in an exhibition entitled Presumés innocents: l’art contemporain et l’enfance, held in 2000 at the Capc Musée d’Art Contemporain de Bordeaux and seen by 40 000 visitors.

With this action—which, in an extremely unusual move, disregards the conclusions of the public prosecutor’s investigation—the entire national and international artistic and professional community, together with the cultural image of France, stand accused and offended.

For the first time in France, two museum directors and a curator are to be tried in a criminal court for exhibiting works of art that have already been shown throughout the world or put on view since the Bordeaux exhibition in art shows that have not elicited the least unfavorable reaction from the public. The thinking that went into preparing the incriminated exhibition, focused on a major subject of art history, was developed collectively and was shared by the relevant state oversight authorities.

This court case from an earlier century, fiercely, relentlessly prosecuted by a single judge in contempt of artistic creation and individuals’ right to accede freely to all forms of art, is indicative of a dangerous obscurantist attitude. The trial will take place in Bordeaux under pressure from a local child protection association named La Mouette, in turn supported by an extremist press that has already been found guilty of libel against one of the accused.

How is it possible that what is considered viewable and acceptable everywhere else should not be so in Bordeaux?

What will be put on trial in the Bordeaux magistrates’ court a few months from now is the work and personal and professional conviction of three figures of the world of art and culture unanimously recognized for their commitment to that world. They have already received thousands of messages of support from all horizons.

This attempt to “criminalize” artists and other actors for their creative work, together with the cultural sites that diffuse that work, requires us to be extremely vigilant about censorship of this kind, whose perpetrators are ever ready to use noble causes such as child protection to authoritarian, liberticidal ends.

MARIE-LAURE BERNADAC, HENRY-CLAUDE COUSSEAU, STEPHANIE MOISDON


Each has the right to criticize works of art or exhibitions, but to lead them in front of a court, it is to install a censure. We, professional art critics, protest against such step and declare our solidarity with the curators of the exhibition "Présumés Innocents", Marie-Laure Bernadac and Stéphanie Moisdon, and the former director of the Capc of Bordeaux, Henry-Claude Cousseau.
The Executive Bureau, AICA International

AICA France joins Marie-Laure Bernadac, Henry-Claude Cousseau and Stephanie Moisdon’s press release and fully supports its three colleagues.
Geneviève Breerette, President of AICA France

Les membres de l’Association Internationale des Critiques d’Art, Section Luxembourg tiennent à exprimer leur plus grand soutien et leur solidarité aux curateurs Marie-Laure Bernadac et Stéphanie Moisdon de l’exposition "Présumés Innocents" ainsi qu’à Henry-Claude Cousseau, ancien directeur du CAPC Musée d’art contemporain de Bordeaux poursuivis depuis 2000 pour avoir fait une exposition.
En effet, nous tenons à déclarer que nous sommes scandalisés par la décision de renvoyer cette affaire en correctionnelle, alors qu’il en va de la liberté d’expression, de la pensée et de la liberté d’exposition de l’art dans notre société fondée sur des principes démocratiques. Les artistes dont les pièces ont été "incriminées" sont des artistes mondialement connus et respectés du monde professionnel de l’art.
Nous tenons à soutenir les curateurs et espérons que les libertés d’expression et de création ne soient pas entachées par cette affaire.
Les membres de AICA Luxembourg


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