Foots denies statues are sexual

| 30/04/2018
Foots, Cayman News Service

Part of Foots’ exhibit on his land on the South Side of Cayman Brac

(CNS): The trial of Ronald Kynes (aka “Foots”) on the charge of possession of an obscene publication regarding four statues that he created and are or were on public display on his land will ultimately rest on the legal definition of “obscene” in the Cayman Islands, which was the subject of the case law put forward by Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Patrick Moran in Summary Court on Cayman Brac Friday on behalf of the crown. However, on the second day of his trial, Kynes for the first time claimed that the two most controversial statues, which the crown and all its witnesses have said depict two women in a sexual act, were not even two women but included a child or a young girl.

The charges against Kynes are about four statues: the crown contends that “LGBT” depicts one woman performing oral sex on another woman, “Eva and Eve” depicts one woman kissing another woman’s breast, as well as “Hekate” and “Isis”, which both depict naked women with skulls in their genital area.

The subject of the parades Batabano on Grand Cayman and Bracannal on Cayman Brac, where there are public acts of grinding, which can be seen as sexual, came up several times during the trial. Magistrate Kirsty-Ann Gunn, who is hearing the case, asked crown witness Annie-Rose Scott, who was one of the Brac residents who had complained about the statues and gave evidence Friday, what she thought of them. Scott said she found some of the acts in those parades very offensive, and also confirmed that she found them sexual in nature and pornographic.

As Moran was about to present his legal arguments on what should be considered obscene in the Cayman Islands, it turned out that Kynes had left his bundle of court documents at home. And while he said that he did not need them and also offered to go home and get them, Magistrate Gunn ensured that copies of the relevant documents were given to the defendant so that he could follow what was being discussed.

Moran laid out the two tests for the charge: that an object is obscene or that they tend to corrupt morals. As Gunn stated, “This is what I have to decide: if these four statues are obscene, as the crown contends.” However, she also indicated that societal norms should be taken into consideration. “I must decide what, for the Cayman Islands, is obscene, looking at it from a Cayman Islands point of view and taking into consideration what is acceptable.”

When Kynes was invited to present his own legal arguments, despite guidance from the magistrate that he should present “what is the law, what are the facts”,  he had little to offer, but did ask the court, how many people need to think that something is obscene before it can be considered obscene? “That’s an interesting question,” the magistrate said.

During his interview with the Brac police and up to that point in his trial Kynes, who is representing himself in court, had maintained repeatedly that the statues were all about two women in love, though he refused to be drawn into saying what the women were doing, other than “hugging”.

However, during his trial, he surprised the court by suddenly contending that “LGBT” depicted a woman and a child. “If you look closely, the one kneeling is a child and the one standing is a mother.” He also for the first time claimed that “Eva and Eve” was about a young girl — the shorter of the two women — who had come to her mother and told her she was gay, and they were embracing after that admission.

Under cross-examination by Moran, Kynes stated repeatedly that people can “twist” his art any way they like. Asked why he had not explained his art in this way when interviewed by the police, he said that he “gave my thoughts at the moment”.

Moran asked in a number of ways and at length if people were wrong if they saw his art as sexual, that “LGBT” was about lesbian oral sex and “Eva and Eve” was about one woman kissing another’s breasts or nipples, but Keynes stuck to the idea that people could see them any way that they like, that it was all about perception, and that he was not thinking about sex when he created them.

“Your attempts to suggest today that the statues are mother and child are desperate attempts to muddy the waters,” Moran told Kynes.

The artist had also explained “Isis” as being about the Muslim terrorist group corrupting the name of the Egyptian goddess. “How would anyone walking past (seeing) a naked woman with full breasts understand that this is about Isis?” Moran asked. Kynes said they could ask him or they could come to their own conclusions.

Asked if he was prepared for people to be outraged at his art, Kynes said he “never thought of that. It’s not what it was intended for.”

Moran asked if he considered that some parents and children might be forced to change the way they travel around the island because of the statues. “No,” Kynes said. “An artist creates and the public judges.”

Although the court had made a site visit on Thursday to the location where most of the statues sit on the South Side of Cayman Brac, at the end of the second day, Magistrate Gunn decided to make a second court site visit to see “Eva and Eve”, which had been moved to a different location.

She said she would give an interim ruling on the Brac on 27 June.

Foots defending himself in obscenity trial

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Category: Courts, Crime

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