Nicolas Sarkozy has appointed the former French Minister of Culture, Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, to an important position in the European Union. It should be pointed out that under the new Treaty of Lisbon there will be a permanent President of the European Union as of 2009. It will be a two and a half-year post replacing the current 6-month rotating position. At his blog, Bernard Antony denounces the appointment:
Spitefully ignoring the "no" vote from the French people to the European Constitution, Mr. Sarkozy today (December 12) helped pass his "simplified treaty" which is essentially the same thing.
The first presidency will devolve to France for a period of two and a half years.
Mr. Sarkozy's first measure is most revealing of the values he intends to defend during that time: he has just named Mr. Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres as cultural ambassador of this presidency.
It will be recalled that when he was minister of culture in the government of Dominique de Villepin, Mr. Donnedieu de Vabres, encouraged, through his attendance, the subsidized theater spectacle entitled Crying Body that was first given at the Théatre de la Ville by the wretched Jan Fabre. In Le Figaro dated Thursday, November 25, 2004 (p.22), René Sirvin had written a review, with all the necessary details, of this "blasphemous, degrading and disgusting" abomination.
After scenes of "collective masturbation", there was the absorption and expelling of urine. The minister, seated in the front row, was sprayed without showing disgust. As the height of their "art", the actors shouted prolonged invectives at the audience, first and foremost to the minister, such as "F... your mother", and gross remarks about sodomy.
And what do you think happened? This minister of culture, connoisseur of ejections of fluids, asked for more, since the "spectacle" was moved to the Avignon Festival in his presence!
One can now assess how worthy he is of being rewarded, as the president of the so-called French Republic has just done.
It is true that you cannot argue about "tastes and colors" of contemporary art.
Note: "About tastes" in French is "des goûts", but the author wrote "d'égouts" which is pronounced the same way, but means "about sewers."
I remember reading about this event in 2004 while I was still familiarizing myself with the French websites. In America we had seen "piss Christ" and the Black Madonna splashed with excrement, and other horrors, so I was very upset that this sort of thing was happening in France too. But I still felt then that there was hope for better leadership in both countries.
From what I've read, Donnedieu de Vabres was intensely disliked as Minister of Culture for many reasons. I believe he was interested in controlling the Internet as well. This issue is now back in the news, as there is talk of creating a French ministry of the Internet!
Finally, though I may be extending this post beyond its worth, here is an excerpt from the above-mentioned Jan Fabre (Belgian, born in Antwerp) explaining the true meaning of Crying Body:
The Crying Body is once again a performance in which the stage and its actors and dancers form one great body with its own language and laws, and has a number of narrative threads running through it. In this piece, the human body is used for experimentation, to see how humans deal with the juices they excrete, such as tears, saliva, sweat, sperm and urine, and the meaning they give them. The body is more explicitly present than ever. It vibrates. It exhausts itself. The Crying Body exists as a result of exertion, sweating and crying. From pain, but also from happiness.
If you wish for more click here.
In the photo, the former minister, on the left, is unveiling the new European logo at the Cluny Abbey, one of France's historical treasures. The sign reads "European Patrimony". Does this mean the venerable abbey is now the property of the EU?
Update December 18 - A reader has added this information about RDDV (as he is known):
On February 16, 2004, he was convicted of money-laundering by the criminal court of Paris. However, no personal punishment or removal from eligibility as a public official was imposed on him (...). As office head for the chairman of the Republican Party in 1996 he was merely fined 15,000 euros to be paid to the public treasury for having participated, on orders from the party chairman, in the use of "special government funds" to finance the acquisition of party headquarters.
Note: I believe the so-called Republican Party became the UMP party of Sarkozy.