Coq and doodle to-do for artist

NICK GALVIN
Last updated 16:26 28/03/2014
artist

DRAG ACT: French police make their own comment on Cohen's performance.

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A South African performance artist is being tried in a French court after parading in front of the Eiffel Tower with a live cockerel attached to his penis.

Steven Cohen wore red satin gloves, platform shoes and a feather headdress as he walked around the popular tourist spot with the rooster attached to his genitals by a white ribbon.

He appeared in a Paris court this week on charges of sexual exhibitionism over last year's performance (Warning: this links to graphic content).

Fowl play ... onlookers stickybeak at Steve Cohen's performance.

Fowl play ... onlookers stickybeak at Steve Cohen's performance.

"The charge of the state is completely inappropriate," said Cohen, 51. "That puts it on a par with someone flashing ... outside a school. It's really backward of France to insist on this charge.

"I made a work using French national symbols - the cock, the Eiffel Tower, the Folies Bergere - as well as a very South African approach to using public space with political consciousness.

"It's not terrorism or perversion. It's art."

Cohen told the court there had been no complaint from people who had witnessed the performance and even a group of passing nuns were unfazed.

Other performances by Cohen have involved him parading naked through a South African squatter camp wearing only an outsized chandelier and scrubbing the streets of Vienna with a giant toothbrush, while wearing bondage gear.

Cohen faces a fine of 1000 Euros ($1480) if he is found guilty next week. The case will turn on whether those who witnessed the performance did so voluntarily or whether Cohen forced the display on them.

"I'm not pleading guilty to anything," he said. "They can't stop me being an artist. Art is my alternative to suicide."

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