Cocktail ou autoportrait en société is the title of Mehdi-Georges Lahlou’s brilliant installation consisting of prayer carpets layed out like in a mosque. On one of the carpets, the artist places a pair of red high-heels. Of course, it is a provocation, and one on many levels, very cleverly set up. The installation is designed to raise questions, to open the grounds for the discussion on the self-awareness of a religion. The style and the approach reminds of Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses. And the reaction is not so far away from the one that Rushdie had to face.
After a series of phone calls, reportedly more and more violent and finally stones thrown onto the window storefront, the owner of the Brussels gallery has decided to close the exhibition down. The issue raises a lot of questions about freedom of speech, about censorship and about the ability to handle critique.