'Fraid I'm a bit late to the party with this one. RL things and all. Sorry about that. But even more unfortunate is another attack on the art world by religious crazies, this time in France.Piss Christ
, for those who don't know, is a photograph taken in 1987 by artist Andres Serrano of a plastic crucifix in a jar of his own urine. It was made as a commentary against the misuse of Christianity, and, if you ask me, is a beautiful picture in its own right
It had been protested in bursts by self-righteous religious folks ever since, and it finally came to a head last weekend, when some Christian fundamentalists decided to attack the photo
with weapons while it was on display in France, and succeeded in destroying it. The photo was recently shielded with plexiglass and assigned guards, because increasing protests brought fear that the photo would be vandalized, but it did little good against the determined onslaught of insipid arrogance. They also destroyed another artwork of Serrano's
in the process.
"Civitas, a lobby group that says it aims to re-Christianize France, launched an online petition and mobilised other fundamentalist groups. The staunchly conservative archbishop of Vaucluse, Jean-Pierre Cattenoz, called Piss Christ 'odious' and said he wanted this 'trash' taken off the gallery walls. Last week the gallery complained of "extremist harassment" by fundamentalist Christian groups who wanted the work banned in France.
Lambert, one of France's best known art dealers, complained he was being 'persecuted' by extremists who had sent him tens of thousands of complaint emails and bombarded the museum with spam. He likened the atmosphere to 'a return to the middle ages'."
Even though no one was killed in the attack, it's yet another very clear message from religious bigots that they want to run the show, and will resort to destruction and violence to meet those ends. Yet another example of a religious group who thinks that their beliefs entitle them not only to do whatever they wish, but to demand that others kowtow to their rules as well. They claim Piss Christ
is reprehensible because it's supposedly an act of blasphemy (because plastic figures are so sacred? I wonder if they feel the same way about the chocolate crucifixes for sale in grocery stores right now. They certainly didn't bat an eye when they were the ones destroying images of their messiah), but I have to wonder if part of their offense is also in the message of Serrano's art about using their religion to fuel their greed. Perhaps the lady doth protest too much? I certainly can't say I'm surprised to learn that political motivations are involved.
"[T]he movement against Piss Christ had started at the time of President Nicolas Sarkozy's ruling UMP party's controversial debate on religion and secularism in France. At a record low in the polls before next year's presidential election, Sarkozy has been accused of using anti-Muslim and extreme-right rhetoric to appeal to voters and counter the rise of the Front National.
Asked by the daily Libération why the Piss Christ protest had happened now, Mézil pointed to Sarkozy's speech in March lauding "the Christian heritage of France" at Puy-en-Velay, where the first Crusades were preached."
Of course, plenty of people have already pointed fingers toward the "Catholic fringe" responsible for this. The louder message, however, is from the "moderates" who trot out tone arguments and refuse to condemn this atrocious act because of the controversial and "shocking" nature of Piss Christ
, as though twisting the knickers of a bunch of pearl-clutching manchildren justifies infiltrating galleries with weapons, attacking people with hammers, and destroying artwork. Because surely, the only artwork worth a damn is what makes us feel warm and fuzzy, instead of what makes us think.
Also telling are the article's examples of "blasphemy" protesters have offered in response, including dropping pee on the Quran and, of all things, The Diary of Anne Frank
. Apparently, blasphemy is acceptable to these people if it involves another religion, and they seem to think that everyone else shares their illogical attachments to a book, let alone the idea that any ol' classic is just as "sacred" as their holy books. They don't seem to realize that it's not the rational people who are getting up in arms over "blasphemy". It's not the rational people who are deeming arbitrary, mass-produced objects too sacred to sully. It's not the rational people who are destroying the property of others in response to a man destroying his own property. Or attacking people over a plastic figure, or a book that anyone can easily buy at any bookstore. They don't seem to realize that they are free to piss on whatever book they want (barring blasphemy laws, anyway, which are also idiotic), because nobody has the right to forbid people from destroying whatever easily obtainable object they managed to buy from Amazon or whatever the fuck.
On the plus side, the gallery is reacting beautifully:
"The gallery director, Eric Mézil, said it would reopen with the destroyed works on show "so people can see what barbarians can do". He said there had been a kind of "inquisition" against the art work."