French justice on Thursday sentenced a Franco-Luxembourg performer to a fine of 2,000 euros, including 1,000 suspended. Deborah de Robertis was shown naked in 2018 during one of her performances in front of the Grotto of the Sanctuary of Lourdes.
“We are going to appeal”, reacted immediately his lawyer Marie Dosé, stressing “(that) this is the first criminal conviction of his client.” The 36-year-old artist has been released several times after similar performances, notably in 2017 after showing her sex at the Louvre museum in front of the Mona Lisa.
On August 31, 2018, she had stripped naked, hands joined and her head covered with a blue veil, at the entrance to the Grotto of the Sanctuary of Lourdes where, according to Catholic tradition, the Virgin Mary had appeared to Bernadette Soubirous in 1858. People had intervened to cover up her nudity and called the police.
Then the sanctuary had lodged a complaint, condemning “an act of exhibitionism which shocked the faithful present”, denouncing an approach “allegedly artistic”.
“This decision goes against the jurisprudence that is emerging today around sexual exhibition”, said Thursday Me Dosé.
“The criminal courts are not there to decree who is an artist or who is not. Freedom of expression must not suffer disproportionate interference”, declared the lawyer repeating the terms of her plea of June 26 during the hearing before the Criminal Court of Tarbes.
“The legal consequences are important, it is important that we debate, that we raise questions that are political,” Deborah de Robertis told AFP.
“From a feminist point of view, emancipation goes through the body. It is normal for women to use their bodies as a means of expression, it is a reversal,” she added, saying that she would continue to “use performance” as a means of expression. The Sanctuary of Lourdes did not wish to react to this condemnation.
Deborah de Robertis has already been tried on several occasions for sexual exhibition and has been released on each occasion. In 2014 and 2016, she had been the subject of recalls to the law, which are not convictions, for two stripped actions at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, where she had imitated the paintings “The origin of the world” by Gustave Courbet and “Olympia” by Edouard Manet.