Paris exhibition draws fire from Swiss

6th December 2004, Comments 0 comments

ZURICH, Dec 6 (AFP) - An exhibition at Switzerland's cultural centre in Paris, which sheds the more common image of orderly Swiss society in favour of political rebellion and a vomiting actor, on Monday triggered an uproar in Switzerland.

ZURICH, Dec 6 (AFP) - An exhibition at Switzerland's cultural centre in Paris, which sheds the more common image of orderly Swiss society in favour of political rebellion and a vomiting actor, on Monday triggered an uproar in Switzerland.

The "Swiss-Swiss democracy" exhibition by avant-garde artist Thomas Hirschhorn, which opened in the French capital over the weekend, includes photographic paste-ups, graffiti slogans and tracts.

It also features an actor feigning vomiting while another urinates on the photograph of the right-wing Swiss justice minister, Christoph Blocher.

On Monday, Blocher's Swiss People's Party (SVP) called on the government to cut off funding for Switzerland's arts council, Pro Helvetia, which is officially charged with promoting Swiss culture abroad.

Other political leaders also voiced concern.

"I find it rather dubious to criticise democracy in an exhibition abroad," said Christiane Langenberger, a centre-right politician and head of the parliamentary commission on culture and science.

Hirschhorn said in his presentation for the exhibition that he wanted to "rebel against... the absurdity of direct democracy in Switzerland and the election of Federal Councillor Christoph Blocher".

Pro Helvetia backed Hirschhorn in a statement Monday, saying the artist had a right to question democracy and insisting that the exhibition was not meant to target the minister specifically.

It said Hirschhorn was a "committed Swiss person" and "known for his uncompromising stance against anything he considers unjust and anti-democratic".

The Swiss parliament elected Blocher to a ministerial post in December 2003 after the right-wing SVP, the country's largest party, gained an unprecedented 26.6 percent of the vote in general elections.

The SVP's campaign was marked by advertising blaming foreigners for crime.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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