What is the best response when anti-Semitic graffiti appears on a Jewish building or some other Jewish-identified site? Remove it immediately, to avoid upsetting people? Or leave it up, to serve as a warning of the extent of the extent of bias? It’s an ongoing debate in some Jewish circles.
World reknowned sculptor, Sir Anish Kapoor chose to leave up his work, with the graffiti intact, when one of his works was defaced with anti-semitic slurs in Versailles last year, The Telegraph reported.
Kapoor, 62, born in Bombay to an Iraqi Jewish mother and Hindu father, decided to leave in place—at least temporarily—the anti-Semitic vandalism on his 200-foot-tall steel sculpture “Dirty Corner,” that sits in the gardens of the Versailles Palace in France. Among the anti-Semitic remarks: “SS blood sacrifice,” “The second rape of the French nation by deviant Jewish activism” and “Christ is king in Versailles." This is the third time it has been vandalized, Kapoor said in an interview on BBC Radio 4 in September.
“I take it personally, in the sense that I’m Jewish,” Kapoor told BBC, “why should anyone do something like that to an artwork unless it is personal?”
In the interview, Kapoor said he found the graffiti “slightly frightening,” but decided to keep it in place as a statement of its own.
Though he received a conciliatory note from President Francois Hollande, Kapoor said, “I’m just not sure that’s enough in the end.”
Kapoor, who has lived in London since the early 1970s and was knighted in 2013, lived on a kibbutz in Israel in 1971-93. Since 1995 he has worked primarily with the highly reflective surface of polished stainless steel; his creations include "Cloud Gate" in Chicago’s Millennium Park, and a smaller version in the courtyard of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. He is working on a granite monument to the British victims of 9/11 that will be displayed in Manhattan’s Hanover Square.
He hopes the Versailles sculpture will become, “a lament to a state of intolerance,” he told BBC.
Inset: Visitors to the "Dirty Corner" sculpture in Versailles take in the anti-semitic graffiti. Getty Images