Critics complain about decision to bar minors from sexually explicit Paris museum show

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Paris museum show barred to minors

PARIS — Paris City Hall has come under fire for barring minors from a museum exhibit of works by U.S. photographer Larry Clark, a show that includes sexually explicit shots of teenagers.

Critics said the move was akin to censorship, with the French Human Rights League calling the decision “backward and reactionary.”

The Socialist-run mayor’s office has expressed fears about legal challenges if it lets minors into the exhibit by Clark, who is also a filmmaker best known for the 1995 film “Kids,” that caused a scandal for its raw portrayal of teens, sex and drugs.

A 2007 French law forbids showing pornographic images to minors under 18 and is punishable with up to 3 years in prison and a fine of €75,000 ($104,760). Yet Paris City Hall’s cautious interpretation of the law perplexed many in a country where bare breasts are not uncommon in mainstream advertising and soft-core porn is shown on television, albeit with a parental warning message.

Clark called the move “ridiculous” in an interview published Thursday.

“I see this as an attack on youth, on teenagers,” he was quoted as telling Liberation newspaper. “These photos are for them.”

Liberation showed one of Clark’s shots on its front page: a young naked couple embracing and visibly fondling each other’s private parts.

The exhibit is showing at the Museum of Modern Art of the City of Paris, which is run by city hall.

Several Greens lawmakers asked Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe to explain himself, calling the move “censure.”

Delanoe defended his decision by saying that “what was easy (to show) 20 years ago causes problems today.”

In a letter to the Greens last week, he said a ban for youth was the only way “to allow a great artist to show in a great Paris museum.”

Clark’s “Kiss the Past Hello” shows through Jan. 2 at the Museum of Modern Art of the City of Paris.


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