Era of Mercy (photograph)
Artist: Blue Noses
Confronting Bodies: The Russian Culture and Press Ministry
Date of Action: October 2007
Location: Moscow, Russia
Description of Artwork: Several works were excluded from the exhibition, including a photograph of two Russian policemen, in uniform, kissing and fondling each other in a birch-tree grove, by the art group Blue Noses. It was titled the Era of Mercy.
The group said, "We wanted to show that here's an era of mercy coming after the harsh 1990s, and two people are kissing. I admit there is something provocative in this. But if people just take it as pornography or eroticism, then it's just silly in the end."
The Incident: The Russian Culture and Press Ministry withdrew 17 works of modern art from an exhibition due in France for being too "provocative." The pictures, photographs and installations, brought together by the Tretyakov Gallery, were due to be shown in the Maison Rouge exhibition hall in Paris as part of France's "A Year of Russia."
Russian officials said the 17 exhibits would bring disgrace on Russia and were a "political provocation" by the artists. "If this exhibition appears there, it will bring shame on Russia, and in this case all of us will bear full responsibility," Culture and Press Minister Alexander Sokolov said at a news conference. He said "it is inadmissible ... to take all this pornography, kissing policemen and erotic pictures" to Paris. Lidia Iovleva, deputy head of the Tretyakov Gallery, said: "To my regret, this is a sheer political provocation [by the artists], and a state-sponsored museum has no right to condone this. We are not a private gallery."
Results of Incident: The works were pulled from the show.