Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Sometimes art is so bad, it's good. (No, this is not an April Fool's joke.)

A performance artist was arrested in Paris after parading in front of the Eiffel Tower with a live rooster attached to his penis via a "leash" of white ribbon. Steven Cohen also donned red gloves, platform high-heeled shoes, a girdle, thigh-high panty hose, a feather headdress, and elaborate makeup including fake eyelashes. He calls the piece Coq/Cock, pun intended.


He is being charged with sexual exhibitionism in French court. But South African Cohen explains his artistic performance: "I made a work using French national symbols - the cock, the Eiffel Tower, the Folies Bergere - as well as a very South African approach to using public space with political consciousness." He further explains the piece as being about "gender identity and the politics of the body."

I think this performance deserves credit for originality and entertainment value. Just seeing Cohen walk around in those shoes is quite an impressive site. But Parisians didn't feel that it was anything worth writing home about. Fairfax Media reports, "Cohen told the court there had been no complaint from people who had witnessed the performance and even a group of passing nuns were unfazed." Apparently Parisians have seen everything already.

But seriously, I feel this piece is a statement about uncomfortable clothing that women must wear to be acceptable in society. To me it says, "If men had to wear fake eyelashes, girdles, thigh-highs and high-heeled shoes, they, too, would feel as if they had a rooster tied to their penis."

As the above photo doesn't do justice to this artwork, a video of the performance, with additional commentary by the artist, can be seen on YouTube. I encourage you to watch the video and see what metaphors come to mind.

UPDATE: The artist was found guilty, but given no penalty.

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