“We cannot attribute the crimes of the characters to their perpetrators” | EUROtoday

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FCan he see a motive for hope after the newest surreal developments within the Bastien Vivès affair, together with Point was echoed? The designer, who’s being sued by a number of associations for dissemination of the picture of a minor presenting a pornographic character”, was accused of “trivializing incest” and of promoting “baby pornography” in some of his albums (The Melons of Wrath, Mental discharge, Little Paul), yet openly humorous and sold in blister packs. The case was not entrusted by the Nanterre public prosecutor's office, as is traditionally done in such cases, to the press chamber, but to the minors' protection brigade.

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Bastien Vivès recounted how he had been handled, throughout his listening to, as an actual intercourse offender (along with his DNA taken, psychiatric examination proposed, and so on.), although no costs of this nature have been introduced in opposition to him. Also, the assist from the Observatory for Freedom of Creation is an actual breath of recent air for the designer and all defenders of freedom of expression. In a press launch revealed on March 18, the affiliation “denounces an absurd law and its ludicrous application in the Vivès affair”, and requires a revision of articles 227-23 and 227-24 of the Penal Code which promote “total confusion between reality and fiction. The lawyer Agnès Tricoire, who is the president of the Observatory (she notably co-directed The Work facing its censorsLa Scène), explains why this affair is important and symptomatic of a worrying drift.

Point : The Observatory for Creative Freedom is not an organization that is well known to the general public. What were the conditions for its creation?

Agnès Tricoire: At the end of the 1990s and the beginning of the 2000s, after a fairly liberal decade, many of us noticed an increase in demands for censorship. For example, I defended the artist Jean-Marc Bustamante, whose exhibition in a chapel in Carpentras was ultimately censored at the request of three far-right deputies, including André Bonet. The latter became the president of the Promouvoir association, which intends to defend “Judeo-Christian values”, and has been ruling the roost over the classification of films in France for twenty years.

In 2000, the La Mouette association filed a complaint against the curators of the “Presumés Innocents” exhibition at the CAPC in Bordeaux. In 2002, it's the case Candy pink by Nicolas Jones-Gorlin. The narrator and protagonist is a pedophile, and the author has been the subject of complaints filed by the associations L'Enfant bleu and the Children's Foundation. He was interviewed by a Parisian brigade specializing in the repression of delinquency against minors and sees himself, like Bastien Vivès, asking questions demonstrating the total confusion of the police between characters and real people.

It was following this resurgence of cases that we decided to create the Observatory for Freedom of Creation under the aegis of the Human Rights League, bringing together various organizations representing all sectors of culture, and resource people, lawyers, philosophers, sociologists, historians specializing in censorship, authors, producers, artists… It is a place of reflection and solidarity between all artistic genres. We recently formed an association to have the capacity to go to court and to have as much weight as possible in the battles that lie ahead against the censors.

In your press release, you ask that “cases of creative freedom be investigated and judged by magistrates able to distinguish reality and fiction, whether they are from the prosecution or the bench”. This is also what Richard Malka, Bastien Vivès' lawyer, is demanding.

What Richard Malka is confronted with in the context of this procedure, we have denounced since the Observatory manifesto in 2003. We request the modification of articles 227-23 and 227-24 of the Penal Code, and in particular of Jolibois amendment. To protect minors and their exploitation in a pornographic context, which is necessary, the term “illustration” had in fact been added to that of “picture” which only covered photographs or films of real children (the text condemns “the fact of using a minor, with or without coercion, for the purpose of fixing, recording or disseminating his or her image or representation, when this image or representation is of a pornographic nature”). Jolibois had justified it by evoking computer-generated images which created almost real images.

But the legislator, by adding this term of representation, opened the door to the repression of works, of fictional artistic representations, which we contest. We must distinguish fiction from reality and grant authors the right to represent, as George Sand said, the mud of the stream. This debate, unfortunately, is not new, even if in the 19th centurye century censorship claimed to protect not children but women and the poor against the amorality of which the bourgeoisie suspected them.

We must distinguish fiction from reality and grant authors the right to represent, as George Sand said, the mud of the stream.

Are you worried about the repeated attacks on freedom of expression and creation which seem to be increasing in recent months?

Yes, and in particular increasingly virulent attacks from the far right against works of live performance, subsidies and aid, and works of contemporary art. In this regard, the Court of Cassation recently handed down a very important ruling for creative freedom regarding an exhibition which took place at the FRAC Lorraine called “L'Infamille”. The General Association against Racism and Respect for French and Christian Identity (Agrif), whose hobby is to try to have works condemned, always without success, had filed a complaint on 227-23 and 227-24, but it was deemed inadmissible. So, she revealed an alleged “attack on human dignity” committed by the works, although very funny, of the artist Éric Pougeau who denounces certain family relationships (violence, incest, etc.).

The court has reminded him of what he has every right to do. Because article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) establishes in principle freedom of expression, which constitutes one of the essential foundations of a democratic society. Creative freedom is included, with its specificities, in this large whole. However, it turns out that the exceptions to freedom of expression are closely regulated by Article 10, and the attack on human dignity is not one of them. Besides the fact that Agrif made a huge misinterpretation which would not have prospered, the Court of Cassation withdrew from it a weapon which it would have habitually misused.

We know that baby safety can be utilized in order that criticized works are not seen in any respect.

Precisely in your struggles, you say that you’ve been confronted a number of instances with far-right associations. But this isn’t the case for all those that pursue Bastien Vivès. Among the individuals who denounced his works, we discover victims of pedophile abuse…

Certain calls for made within the identify of kid safety undoubtedly come from individuals in good religion. But we additionally know that baby safety can be utilized in order that criticized works are not seen in any respect, even by adults. And that's known as censorship. Watch the movies which are seen and broadcast on tv at present. With the brand new classification system, there’s a tightening of the standards and an impoverishment of the proposed provide, primarily aimed toward cinema, and this has an affect on heritage movies. It’s a query of entry to tradition.

Since our creation, now we have handled censors from each the correct and the left, although censorship is a standard and cultural hobbyhorse of the far proper. Our press launch doesn’t touch upon what Bastien Vivès drew. That his books are the topic of debate is completely reputable. And if we take into account that they fall inside the scope of justice, then it’s a dispute which have to be reserved for the chambers of the press, that are courts that are used to resolving conflicts between freedom of creation and different freedoms and elementary rights, in accordance with the standards of the ECHR. We can’t procedurally attribute the crimes of fictional characters to the authors and decide the latter as having dedicated these fictional crimes. It's absurd. Or else we should additionally deliver the authors of detective novels to court docket. This is why it is very important set the file straight and request a change within the legislation.

The Work going through its censors (La Scène editions)