Defendant at corrupting morals trial: My work is art
The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, December 18, 2012 10:28AM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, December 18, 2012 7:05PM EST
MONTREAL -- A Quebec special-effects artist charged with corrupting morals has defended himself in court, testifying that his gory works constitute art.
Remy Couture testified on his own behalf at a jury trial being heard Tuesday in Montreal.
Couture, 35, said the horror website he ran, Inner Depravity, which brought to life a psychopathic killer character he created, is artistic and not pornographic.
He is charged with three counts of corrupting morals by distributing, possessing and producing obscene materials in a case that explores the boundaries of artistic expression and Canadian obscenity laws.
The material in question includes hundreds of photos and a pair of videos that depict gruesome murders, torture, assaults and necrophilia -- all with young female victims.
Couture said he was inspired by horror films and literature he'd read and created a serial-killer character.
The Crown describes the material on the site, not currently online, as obscene and says it goes too far. The prosecution says the work is dominated by sex and is criticizing the fact there was nothing to keep minors off the site.
Couture counters that the point of his artistic work is to make the gore look believable.
"The objective of anyone working as a make-up artist is to make people believe their work," Couture said. "My objective was to create horror, plain and simple."
He said the sexual nature of some of the photos is secondary -- he referred to it as an "accessory." He said the special effects and artistic value are what he's most interested in.
Couture told the jury that some people didn't believe the images were fake and would write to tell him so. He said he would send them the "making-of" images to prove it.
Under cross-examination by Crown prosecutor Michel Pennou, Couture denied that he'd created what resembled a "snuff film" and denied that what he was creating was pornography.
"I create horror. I'm not a pornographer," Couture told the jury.
"The goal is not to excite, it's to disgust."
Questioned by the Crown about the fact that all the victim characters are women, Couture said he'd planned to create a project where a female victim gets revenge on the psychopath.
But a heavy workload had left him with less and less time for his "Inner Depravity" project, he said.
Couture was arrested in October 2009 and pleaded not guilty to the three charges the following year. He has argued that the state has no business defining what is art, or infringing on his right to free expression.
A seven-woman, five-man jury is hearing the case, which is into its fifth day.
Under questioning from his lawyer, Robert Cote, the jury heard the 35-year-old special-effects artist speaking passionately about his trade, which involves using fake blood, latex and silicone to create realistic gore.
Couture told the jury of a lengthy list of movies he'd worked on as an effects specialist.
He said his work took him to Europe to do art for a heavy-metal band in Hungary. He described being invited to speak to Grade 10 and 11 students at a high school in Shawinigan, Que., about working in the movie industry. Couture even used his special-effects knowledge to help put together a training video for the union representing federal prison guards.
Couture said he'd appeared at a number of horror and movie-related events. A university-level arts student was assigned to work with him for a course.
He said his late 2009 arrest is the only run-in he's ever had with the law.
"The first and I hope the last," Couture said.