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Giving Thanks for Shock Art

Happy Thanksgiving to all our American readers!

In case you needed any further evidence that shock art is still a thing, there are two major exhibits taking up a lot of space in the French dailies this week: a Jeff Koons retrospective, which opened at the Centre Pompidou yesterday, and Exhibit B by South African artist Brett Bailey, a performance-installation that opens today at the Théâtre Gérard-Philipe in Saint-Denis. See Koons speak about his work in this video from L'Express. Although the outcry against Bailey's "human zoo" has been widespread, France's culture minister, Fleur Pellerin, has come out in support of the exhibit, which involves black actors in tableaux vivants re-enacting scenes of colonial enslavement. In a public statement Pellerin said (my translation): "I forcefully reaffirm the fundamental principles of liberty in artistic creation and programming that are the pride of our nation." The minister is preparing to present a law on freedom of artistic creation, architecture, and patrimony to the French parliament in 2015.

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