The French embassy in Germany has condemned an exhibition staged by a Danish art collective on the subject of martyrdom, which includes one of the men responsible for terrorist acts in Paris in November 2015.
“While we stand by our support of artistic freedom, we strongly condemn the conflation of martyrdom and terrorism,” the embassy said of the work of The Other Eye of the Tiger, which also provoked public outcry when it was shown in Denmark last year.
King, Socrates, Joan of Arc, Atta …
Among the 20 martyrs included in the ‘Martyrmuseet’ exhibition at the Kunstquartier Bethanien art centre are obvious choices like Martin Luther King, Joan of Arc and Socrates – they clearly meet the collective’s criteria of “dying for their convictions”.
But many have questioned the inclusion of Ismael Omar Mostefai, who together with three others killed 90 people at the Bataclan music venue in Paris 2015, and Mohammed Atta, the best known of the 9-11 terrorists who attacked New York in 2001.
Additionally, a rather macabre addition, an entrance ticket to the Bataclan on that fateful night, is included in the Mostefai exhibit.
Track record included Breivik play
One of the key supporters of the art collective is Christian Lollike, the head of culture at Teater Sorth/Hvid, which staged the exhibition in 2016.
Lollike is no stranger to controversy thanks to his 2012 play ‘Manifest 2083’, a dramatisation of the writings of mass killer Anders Breivik.
“I can’t understand the criticism,” he told DR in 2016. “The effort is an earnest one: to investigate what a martyr is and how in some cultures you define martyrs in one way and in others define it in another way. I think that is a completely legitimate question and starting point for an exhibition.”
In response to the more recent criticism, the collective stated: “All the martyrs in the artwork have been appointed martyr by either a state, religion or an organisation. None of the martyrs have been appointed by the artists.”