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Tommy Chouinard and Paul Journet June 12, 2012
Controversial poster art by music group Mise en Demeure, published on cover of today’s Journal de Montréal.
The deputy leader of Quebec Solidaire, Amir Khadir, will likely take legal action against the Journal de Montréal and the Journal de Québec for headlines in today’s editions.
The front pages of both dailies featured the headline, “Khadir Armed, Charest Dead” («Khadir armé, Charest mort»,). A subtitle specified that a “troubling image” had been found at the Mercier MNA’s home during a police search of his residence last Thursday. The front page image is a of poster inspired by the famous painting, “Liberty Guiding the People,” by Eugène Delacroix. In the altered version of the painting featured in the papers, Amir Khadir’s head has been photo-shopped onto the body of a revolutionary fighter, and Premier Jean Charest’s head has been photo-shopped onto the body of a man lying on the ground.
The altered image in question is actually from a poster made by the music group Mise en Demeure. “This image is nothing more that a parody made by a music group,” confirmed Amir Khadir at a press conference Tuesday.
The headline appearing in the two daily papers “is pure fabrication. Have you ever seen me armed? Have you ever heard Québec Solidaire call for armed combat or revolution?” Khadir challenged. He accuses the two publications of undertaking a “campaign of intimidation.”
He explained that one of his daughters purchased the Mise en Demeure group poster over a year ago. “I think that in a democracy, artists have the right to freedom of expression,” he said.
The day after being defeated in one of their traditional stronghold electoral districts, Argenteuil, several Liberals were eager to comment on the poster affair. Yves Bolduc, Quebec Health Minister, expressed his opinion that the image contains subliminal messages that incite violence.
Yves Bolduc believes that by simply possessing this image in his residence, Mr. Khadir poses a threat. “There are always subliminal messages put forward through paintings like this. For certain vulnerable people, this can be a danger,” he maintained.
Bolduc continues. “It can always be misinterpreted. But all I can say is that it’s in poor taste and disturbing,” he added. “It’s disturbing that people are even able to make a painting like that. Even if we say it’s ironic or intended to be humourous, it’s dark humour and it’s not appropriate,” he insisted.
For his part, Sam Hamad, Minister of Economic Development said, “I’ve just discovered that (Mr. Khadir) has a great passion for art, particularly for art with the French Revolution as its subject, but this is in poor taste.”
Jean-Marc Fournier, Minister of Justice, attempted to draw a connection between the music poster and democracy. He claimed that Mr. Khadir, head of a political party and elected MNA, is promoting anarchy. The reason: a black flag [Translator’s note: a traditional symbol of anarchism] was included in Mise en Demeure’s altered image of Delacroix’s painting of the overthrow of French King Charles X. The day after the Quebec by-elections, it makes you think,” he said pointedly. [Translator’s note: no opening quotation marks included in this paragraph in the original article]
Quebec Culture Minister Christine St-Pierre called the image “disgusting.” She denounced the altered image, through which she says the original artist’s work has been “desecrated.”
François Legault, head of the CAQ [Coalition Avenir Québec: known as a Rightist Quebec political party], appeared much less affronted by the affair. “We obviously don’t have the same taste. I wouldn’t have that in my home,” he revealed, before stating he had nothing more to say on the matter.
Original painting, “Liberty Leading the People,” by Eugène Delacroix (1830).
Translated from the original French by Translating the printemps érable.
*Translating the printemps érable is a volunteer collective attempting to balance the English media’s extremely poor coverage of the student conflict in Québec by translating media that has been published in French into English. These are amateur translations; we have done our best to translate these pieces fairly and coherently, but the final texts may still leave something to be desired. If you find any important errors in any of these texts, we would be very grateful if you would share them with us at email@example.com. Please read and distribute these texts in the spirit in which they were intended; that of solidarity and the sharing of information.