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Palais de Tokyo.
Palais de Tokyo.

Palais de Tokyo Community Leader Dismissed After Threatening Greta Thunberg

Emma Lavigne, the president of the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, has discharged the president of Amis du Palais de Tokyo, Bernard Chenebault, after he made threatening remarks on Facebook yesterday about the sixteen-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg. Chenebault, whose role at Friends of the Palais de Tokyo involved overseeing a network of patrons and collectors—as well as spearheading community outreach on behalf of the institution, Europe’s largest center for contemporary art—called Thunberg a “madwoman” whom “we must shoot down.” He added: “I hope an off-center person shoots her,” using a derogatory term for someone with mental illness. Thunberg, the Swedish activist who inspired this month’s global climate strikes, has recently been the subject of vitriol—much of it misogynistic and ableist—from the right, including from US President Donald Trump.

The Palais de Tokyo swiftly distanced itself from Chenebault and said that Lavigne, who was named president of the center this July, learned about his words with “stupefaction.” “We disapprove of these words and dissociate ourselves from this position, formulated in a personal capacity and which does not engage the Palais de Tokyo or the Friends of the Palais de Tokyo,” read a press release from the art center circulated today on social media. “The general assembly of the Friends of the Palais de Tokyo will meet as soon as possible to proceed with the election of a new person to the presidency.”

Chenebault wrote on Facebook today: “I deeply regret these words that have struck many people, to whom I apologize for the outrage they have felt. Of course, I don’t call for the murder of Greta Thunberg and ask you to believe that in Facebook's ‘game,’ my words totally slipped out of my thought and intention. These personal words have no connection with the association of Amis du Palais de Tokyo, nor with the Palais de Tokyo, which I regret to have embarrassed.”

Another Facebook post by Chenebault, made in 2017 in response to news that a mural by painter Barthélemy Toguo would be realized at a metro station in the city’s Château Rouge quarter, implied that the project was like giving “pearls to swine” before noting the neighborhood’s Muslim population. That comment, unearthed by the French journalist Magali Lesauvage, has since been deleted.