We Must Destroy Art That Offends Our Religious Beliefs In Some Vague Way We Can’t Coherently Explain

Angry French religious extremist idjits have destroyed a print of artist Andre Serrano’s “Piss Christ”. From The Guardian:

Piss Christ is part of a series by Serrano showing religious objects submerged in fluid such as blood and milk. It was being shown in an exhibition to mark 10 years of the art dealer Yvon Lambert’s personal collection in his 18th-century mansion. Last week the gallery complained of “extremist harassment” by Christians who wanted the image banned. The archbishop of Vaucluse, Jean-Pierre Cattenoz, called the work “odious” and said he wanted “this trash” taken off the gallery walls. Saturday’s street protest against the work gained the support of the far-right National Front, which has recently done well in local elections.

So we have fascists on one side and art on the other. I think I’ll stand with the art, thanks. On the bright side:

The culture minister, Frédéric Mitterrand, condemned the vandalism as an attack on the fundamental freedoms of creation and expression. A police complaint has been filed by the gallery and the guards.

I have a hard time imagining a culture minister in Canada sticking up for controversial art. The important thing is, art isn’t all about craft–the best art is an expression of ideas. Here we have a work about a symbol of an alleged saviour whose mythology is bound in blood and flesh and physical humanity, and people are saying it must be banned? Pshaw.

Author: Stephen Whitworth

Prairie Dog editor Stephen Whitworth was carried to Regina in a swarm of bees. He's been with Prairie Dog since May 1999 and will die at his keyboard before admitting his career a terrible, terrible mistake.

10 thoughts on “We Must Destroy Art That Offends Our Religious Beliefs In Some Vague Way We Can’t Coherently Explain”

  1. Hi, it’s me again, and I’ve brought my dead horse. So first off Stephen, say this artist would have did a “Piss Memaw and Mama Whitworth” painting. Would it not illicit strong emotions in you? Would it not make you want to put your fist through this painting? (And if it doesn’t, I want you to send back your Seanbot3000 Fan Club Decoder Ring.)

    Jesus Christ is my personal Lord and Savior. And, this painting upsets me. This execrable Serrano, in his studio, created this art, knowing full well the reaction it was going to get. Personally, I think the artist’s intentions for this piece was for it to be ultimately destroyed. The act of it’s destruction was the art he was trying to convey.

    p.s. Are you a fan of Dlisted.com? You post things that I’ve seen there a few days before.

  2. SeanBot, it’s all well and good that “Piss Christ” upsets you. That’s probably part of what the artist intended to evoke. That is hardly justification for an act of vandalism.

    BTW, Stephen, your close may be the best explication of the Incarnation by an atheist / agnostic I have ever read.

  3. Seanbot: nope, Delisted isn’t on my circuit (yet). I found this on the Guardian. Rumour is I took a few art courses once upon a time. I get itchy when people destroy art.

    No desire to research and write an essay on this art but this piece is far from one-dimensional or inherently anti-Christian. One of many reads is it’s a criticism of the cheapening of the sacred by commercialization–the crucifix is a mass-produced trinket. It’s interesting to think about the relation of the title to the work–it sure would be different with a different name.

    Malcolm: I explicated a what now? (Thanks for the compliment.)

  4. Seanbot, if you think it was the artist’s intention to have the piece to be ultimately destroyed, do you then support the artist in achieving his goal and proving his point about the intolerance of some fervernt followers of religion?

  5. A similar case to consider to consider: Salman Rushdie’s “The Satanic Verses”. And another thought: hundreds of Japanese Christians refused to trample on the crucifix under the compulsion of their government in the 17th Century, and were murdered for their respect for a symbol of their faith. They haven’t been the only Christians subjected to such harassment over the years, so there’s sensitivity around this issue, just as there is in the Muslim world over anything to do with the prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him). Artists tend to know where the sore spots are in their cultures, and sometimes they probe them, for whatever reason. Serrano’s and Rushdie’s works provoked very strong reactions, and no one should be surprised. Furthermore, no one should be baffled to discover that, despite the Enlightenment and science, religion, including its least savoury parts, still has a great deal of influence in the world. Only the intellectually naive and culturally imperialistic folks would discount the power of belief.
    Malcolm and Sean and anyone else: have a good and thoughtful Holy Week.

  6. May we all have have good and thoughtful weeks every week! Thank you Barb, and you too.

  7. real talk it’s a beautiful picture and if you look at it from a religious perspective it’s more than anything else a reminder of jesus’ humanity – it’s no coincidence that the crucifix in the image depicts jesus’ death. the man from galilee was, according to pretty much every denomination, just that: a man. his corporeal being on earth is pretty important and ‘piss christ’ is like a gorgeous-looking way to really get up close to that concept.

    and these mooks couldn’t see that. their loss, i guess!

  8. Real Real talk, JC. If you think this is a beautiful picture that represents Jesus’s humanity, you should probably stop mixing your anti-depressants with alcohol. It’s turning your brain into swiss cheese. Once again, real real talk.

  9. A big happy and blessed Easter to Barb and the likeminded. And to all my pagan friends, Happy day before Easter chocolate is 75% off day.

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