On Saturday, the artist C215 denounced the “obviously racist” degradation of one of his works, in tribute to the Algerian victims of the massacre of October 17, 1961 in Ivry-sur-Seine. Two months ago, on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the massacre of Algerian demonstrators under the authority of the Paris police prefect of the time Maurice Papon, C215, whose real name is Christian Guémy, had painted with a stencil on a Ivry ‘s garage wall a portrait of one of the victims of this repression, Ahmad Khalfi, with the inscription « Thrown into the Seine on 10/17/1961 ».
The mayor of Ivry telephoned me, we are going to redo this large portrait, in a definitive and solemn manner in the future rue du 17/10/61 in Ivry. Whoever thought to ruin the posterity of Ahmad Khalfi, like many others drowned in the Seine on 10/17/61, has failed. Thanks for the force! https://t.co/vdJNWSID9H
— C215 (@christianguemy) December 26, 2021
As shown in a photo published by the artist on social media on Saturday, this inscription was erased with a chisel and the portrait was sprayed with blood-red spots. A penis has also been engraved on the work. “It’s very violent for all North Africans and people who can really identify with Ahmad Khlafi. He is not a political figure, he is just a victim of a massacre that was committed under circumstances of ordinary racism. And there, we perpetuate all that ”, regretted C215.
Second degraded work in two months
» It’s very sad. It is an offense thrown in the face not only of the victim but also of people of the present. I noticed it today but don’t know when it was done. It’s in a small street, there is not much traffic, ”explained the French stencil. “I tried to make his portrait as lively and human as possible. It is painted at the height of a man, in a district where there is a lot of diversity in addition ”.
In November, another stenciled portrait of C215, that of policeman Ahmed Merabet, coldly murdered by one of the Kouachi brothers in January 2015, was degraded in Paris. The police chief had lodged a complaint after the racist insult « bicot » was found in this portrait. For the first time this year, the French presidency recognized that « several dozen » Algerian demonstrators « were killed, their bodies thrown into the Seine » on October 17, 1961. The official record so far has only counted three victims.
« We condemn the degradation of which C215 was the object, whose work is known and recognized in the Paris region and by the Ivryans », reacted the town hall of Ivry. The artist indicated that with the agreement of the town hall, the work would be reproduced on a larger scale and would become permanent. A nice revenge on ordinary racism, which takes a Streisand effect.