Steven Cohen in court for performing in front of Eiffel Tower with a cockerel tied to his penis.

The South African performance artist who was arrested on September 10 last year for “indecent exposure” after dancing in front of the Eiffel Tower with a cockerel tied to his penis is on trial this week in France.

Steven Cohen’s work entitled “Coq/Cock” involved him donning feathers, platform shoes and long red gloves, and walking up and down in the Place du Trocadero with a rooster attached to his genitals by a long ribbon. Police arrested the colourful artist and held him for nine hours of questioning. The cockerel was apparently unharmed and has now retired to the country.

Cohen, 51, was born in South Africa but has lived in Lille for some years. His work is frequently controversial but has been included in important art shows. Most recently his performance art work “Sphincterography: The Tour – Johannesburg (The Politics of an Arsehole)” was part of the 2013 Festival d’Automne in Paris. “To some people, what I do is magical, and to others, what I do is criminal,” he says.

“I made a work using French national symbols – the cock, the...