Controversial SA artist convicted of sexual exhibitionism in France

By admin
05 May 2014

Steven Cohen, the South African performance artist known for his public interventions, has been found guilty of sexual exhibitionism.

A Paris court on Monday found a South African artist guilty of sexual exhibitionism after a performance in Paris that saw him dance with a rooster tied to his penis.

But the criminal court imposed no penalty on the artist, 51-year-old Steven Cohen, noting that no complaint had been filed against him and that he had not engaged in sexual acts.

Prosecutors had requested a 1,000 euro (R14 5000) fine.

Cohen was arrested last September after the performance in a busy public square near the Eiffel Tower.

Sporting platform shoes and an outlandish costume including feathers on his fingers and a headdress made of a stuffed pheasant, he danced for 10 minutes with his penis attached to the rooster, before police stepped in.

"I think the victim is art," Cohen said after the verdict, noting that his performance was interrupted before it could conclude.

"I'm not saying I'm going to, but my desire is to complete what was incorrectly halted by the authorities," he said.

"I'm frustrated because it's almost like being found guilty but not being punished. It's like saying 'we are right but we are not going to do anything to you', which for me is a double injustice," Cohen said.

The artist had earlier told the court his performance had "nothing to do with sexuality" and that no one -- not even a group of passing nuns --had complained about it.

His lawyer Agnes Tricoire said the court should have handed down a "pure and simple acquittal" and that Cohen was considering whether to appeal.

As for the rooster, Tricoire said the only time it was "manhandled" was by police during Cohen's arrest. The animal is now in a chicken coop and living "a totally happy life in Normandy," she said.


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