Contemporary photographic family album

Curator removes intimate images from Paris gallery after threats received Exhibition featuring Diane Ducruet’s work part of month-long photography festival

A series of intimate images of a mother and child have been removed from an exhibition that is part of the month-long festival Le Mois de la Photo after its host gallery received threatening letters and messages online. The photographs by the French artist Diane Ducruet, which form a polyptych entitled Mère Fille, were included in an exhibition, “L’intime comme illusion” (until 8 November), which opened at the Galerie Catherine Houard last week.

The removal of the images was first reported by the French website, Rue89. Ducruet tells The Art Newspaper: “The works were hung on the afternoon of 30 October… Houard’s assistant confirmed the decision to take down the pieces around 16.00, so I took the works.” 

Another artist in the exhibition, Marie Docher, has written on her blog that seven identical letters were sent to figures associated with the show. “They requested that Ducruet’s work was removed. The letters were signed and gave free rein to the authors’ fears and fantasies. Words used included ‘incest’ and ‘paedophile’,” Docher says.

On her website, Ducruet has listed the exhibition and written “censored” alongside. She says the works develop the ideas first presented in her Mother and Daughter piece of 2001. “The polyptych presents a vision of mother and daughter far from the Pietà archetype… Two bodies entwined, attempting to separate from each other,” she says. 

Françoise Paviot, the exhibition curator, said in a statement: “It seemed ill-advised of us to continue with the exhibition as planned, given our inability to judge the seriousness of the threats. Consequently, we removed the offending piece, even though it was displayed in the gallery’s basement.” 

Houard, who hosted the exhibition in the gallery for free , declined to comment. 

The Maison Européene de la Photographie (MEP) in Paris, a major photography gallery, has organised the Le Mois de la Photo festival. A spokeswoman for the MEP says that its director Jean-Luc Monterosso “has not been in contact with the people involved in the censorship in which he also been implicated…. He stresses that shows presented under the Mois de la Photo are the sole responsibility of the curator and representatives of the respective exhibition venues.”

Last month, the US artist Paul McCarthy’s inflatable sculpture Tree, was vandalised in the Place Vendome and the 69-year-old artist assaulted.

By Gareth Harris.

The Art Newspaper (web only)