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Tuesday, 11 June, 2002, 21:42 GMT 22:42 UK
Artist severs finger in kidnap protest
Juan Carlos Lecompte, husband of kidnapped candidate Ingrid Betancourt
Betancourt's kidnapping caused outrage in Colombia
A French performance artist has shocked the Colombian nation by chopping off his own finger with an axe in protest at a high-profile kidnapping.


The idea was to share in Colombia's violence

Pierre Pinoncelli
Pierre Pinoncelli, who is famous for his outrageous stunts, committed the act of self-mutilation at an art museum in the city of Cali on Sunday.

He said he was paying homage to Ingrid Betancourt, a candidate in last month's presidential election who was kidnapped by Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas in February.

Pinoncelli, a neo-dadaist, last made the headlines in 1993, when he urinated on Marcel Duchamp's art work The Urinal in a French museum.

'Symbol of courage'

Wielding an axe, Pinoncelli cut off a finger before splattering blood on a poster bearing the letters FARC and announcing that he was donating his severed digit to the museum.


I have mixed feelings, because sometimes I think that it was a beautiful gesture of sacrifice, and other times a barbarity

Yolanda Pulecio
"The idea was to share in Colombia's violence," Pinoncelli said.

"Ingrid Betancourt symbolises the courage of all those fighting against corruption, and that is why I am rendering her homage," he added.

But Ms Betancourt's mother, Yolanda Pulecio, said she had mixed emotions about the act.

"It stunned me," she said. "I have mixed feelings, because sometimes I think that it was a beautiful gesture of sacrifice, and other times a barbarity."

Ms Betancourt, 40, a fierce critic of the FARC, was captured by the rebels as she entered their former safe haven in the south of the country four months ago.

Under Colombian law she was allowed to keep her name on the ballot paper, but received less than 1% of the vote in the May election.


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