Police seize pics at Paris art fair

Artist’s ‘animal performance’ constituted pornography claim authorities.

28 October 2008

ORGANISERS of the FIAC international art fair said they were shocked by a police raid.

Officers removed photographs by Russian artist Oleg Kulik from the Grand Palais in Paris and took Moscow art gallery XL owners Yelena Selina and Sergei Khripun in for questioning.

FIAC head Martin Bethenod who denied the works were pornographic and said the raid "shocked" the art world.

"These images have an unquestionable artistic status since they have been shown, bought, exhibited and edited since the 1990s," he said and added that Kulik's work was represented in France's national art collections.

He said the photos were "part of performances where the artist casts himself in extreme roles, such as one where he is shown as a dog, naked with a collar, barking and throwing himself at people and cars."

"Their message is not about promoting zoophilia but about asking where the limits lie between what is human and what is animal."

"The whole of the art world present at the FIAC, galleries, collectors, amateurs, artists, were shocked," he said.

The Paris prosecutor's office dispatched a team of plain-clothes officers to the art fair after it was alerted by customs officials to the nature of some of the works.

Some of the 30 incriminated pictures, taken in the late 1990s, show Kulik naked, appearing to simulate sex with animals.

A judicial official said the photographs, which were later handed back to the FIAC organisers, were unhooked on the grounds the show was accessible to minors.

Photo: The FIAC art fair takes place in the Grand Palais, Paris

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