The windows have run into direct conflict with the legal system on two occasions. The first was in the case of the piece Red/White where the original intention had been to use the red cross symbol. I was fascinated by the way it was an image that went all the way from the domestic cut finger to the international stage of war and disaster (it was at the time of the bombardment of Sarayevo) and I was unaware of the restrictions governing the use of the red cross. It was only after the piece was already listed and advertised that this was pointed out to me by a signwriter who happened to be a member of the British Red Cross. When I contacted the Red Cross for clarification I was sent a seven page fax by their international lawyer. It is one of the most highly protected visual symbols on the planet. The piece evolved to adapt to the new circum- stances and I issued a new press release which drew attention to the change.
Extracts from the Red Cross's documentation is reproduced below. THE RED CROSS IS A PROTECTED EMBLEM If asked, many people would probably say that the red cross is a universally recognised symbol for first aid or medical assistance. And, under certain conditions, it is- but it can only be used in particular circumstances and by authorised people. First and foremost, the red cross emblem is a sign used by countries involved in the armed conflicts. It is used as a symbol to protect the wounded and sick, and is internationally recognised as such under the Geneva Conventions of 1949. The United Kingdom is a party to the Geneva Conventions and must uphold this special meaning and the role of the red cross emblem. __________________________________________ It is therefore a crime under the Geneva Conventions Act 1957 to use the emblem without the authority of the Defence Council. The only civilian body so authorised by the Defence Council to use the red cross emblem for its peacetime activities is the British Red Cross Society, use of the emblem by any other civilian, person or body is a misuse - a criminal offence. ___________________________________________ For similar reasons, the Geneva Conventions Act also restricts use of the red crescent emblem (a red crescent on a white \background), the Swiss heraldic emblem (a white cross on a red background); symbols resembling the red cross, red crescent and Swiss emblems, and use of the words 'Red Cross' or 'Red Crescent'. ...................................................... ROLE OF THE BRITISH RED CROSS As part of the privilege to use the red cross desig- nation and emblem. The British Red Cross has a nationally and internationally recognised role to play in monitoring unauthorised use of the protected emblems and wording, and of designs and wording resembling them, throughout the United Kingdom. The Society assists the Government Departments responsible for controlling such use, namely the Ministry of Defence (for the Red Cross/Crescent designations and emblems) and the Department of Trade and Industry (for the Swiss Heraldic emblem and designs resembling the red cross/ crescent and similar wording). The second incident involving the law happened during the piece called Shadow.This featured a cut out figure of a man in jeans and bomber jacket, a slightly sinister everyman figure whose silhouette was projected on to a screen theatrically lit in orange light.
There was a loud banging on the window one evening and when I looked out three boys shouted, "There's a man hanging himself". I told them not to be silly, it was a cut out and they said "But we've called the emergency services. We saw him from the bus". I didn't believe them and went down to the door. As I got there a paramedic turned up on a motorbike followed shortly by an ambulance and a car full of policemen all with sirens going. The paramedic was obviously relieved and roared with laughter when he realised it was a mistake. Meanwhile the theatre audience was turning up to see Lindsay Kemp and the ambulance and police car were blocking the street and causing a major incident. Very embarrassing. The police tramped in to the shop and made me turn off the lights. The misinterpretation had resulted from a slight drooping in the arm and head of the figure and the shadow of a street lamppost outside which could be read as a rope - something I hadn't calculated for though I pointed out to the police that they had been walking past it on the beat for the previous week and hadn't seen anything amiss. They were quite shaken after a high speed trip over wet roads - it was the week that two pedestrians were killed by police in two separate incidents during high speed police responses, and they said they wouldn't do anything but suppose it happened again their colleagues would arrest and prosecute me under Section Four of the Public Order Act ( see below). An offence which carries a potential sentence of 6 months. I took legal advice and was told that the police were overreacting. I rang the Sergeant at the station and told him I was changing it slightly to make it less ambiguous - it was supposed to be a standing man, very much alive rather than a man in the act of hanging himself, and the Sergeant told me he had had a terrible ribbing from his colleagues over the incident. He agreed that I could turn on the lights again and that they would put a flash call up on their response system to the effect that this was art not reality. Apart from a drunken artist discussing it loudly in the street and a couple of young Japanese girls who jumped out of their skins and shrieked when they noticed the figure - now very definitely standing not hanging, there were no further incidents. Public Order Act UK 1986 Section 4 (Fear of provocation of violence) (1) A person is guilty of an offence if he- a) uses towards another person threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or b) distributes or displays to another person any writing,sign or other visible representation which is threatening,abusive or insulting, with intent to cause that person to believe that immediate unlawful violence will be used against him or another , or to provoke the immediate use of unlawful violence by that person or another, or whereby that person is likely to believe that such violence will be used or it is likely that such violence will be provoked. (2) An offence under this section may be committed in a public or a private place, except that no offence is committed where the words or behaviour are used, or the writing, sign or other visible representation is distributed or displayed, by a person inside a dwelling and the other person is also inside that or another dwelling. (3) A constable may arrest without warrant anyone he reasonably suspects is committing an offence under this section. (4) A person guilty of this offence is liable on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale or both. Section 5 (Harassment, alarm or distress) (1) A person is guilty of an offence if he- a) uses threatening ,abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour, or b) displays any writing,sign or visible representation which is threatening,a abusive or insulting, within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress thereby. (2) An offence under this section may be committed in a public or a private place, except that no offence is committed where the words or behaviour are used,or the writing,sign or other visible representation is displayed, by a person inside a dwelling and the other person is also inside that or another dwelling. (3) It is a defence for the accused to prove- a) that he had no reason to believe that there was any person within hearing or sight who was likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress, or b) that he was inside a dwelling and had no reason to believe that the words or behaviour used, or the writing, sign or other visible representation displayed, would be heard or seen by a person outside that or any other dwelling, or c) that his conduct is reasonable. (4) A constable may arrest a person without warrant if - a) he engages in offensive conduct which the constable warns him to stop, and b) he engages in further offensive conduct immediately or shortly after the warning. (5) In subsection (4) "offensive conduct" means conduct the constable reasonably suspects to constitute an offence under this section, and the conduct mentioned in paragraph (a) and the further conduct need not be of the same nature. (6) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.