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Great Dreyfus’s Ghost!

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Poor old “Piss Christ” has been in the wars again. The Guardian reports:

When New York artist Andres Serrano plunged a plastic crucifix into a glass of his own urine and photographed it in 1987 under the title Piss Christ, he said he was making a statement on the misuse of religion. Controversy has followed the work ever since, but reached an unprecedented peak on Palm Sunday when it was attacked with hammers and destroyed after an “anti-blasphemy” campaign by French Catholic fundamentalists in the southern city of Avignon…The photograph had been shown in France several times without incident. For four months, it has hung in the exhibition I Believe in Miracles, to mark 10 years of art-dealer Yvon Lambert’s personal collection in his 18th-century mansion gallery in Avignon. The show is due to end next month, but two weeks ago a concerted protest campaign began.

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…On Saturday, around 1,000 Christian protesters marched through Avignon to the gallery. The protest group included a regional councillor for the extreme-right Front National, which recently scored well in the Vaucluse area in local elections. The gallery immediately stepped up security, putting plexiglass in front of the photograph and assigning two gallery guards to stand in front of it.

But on Palm Sunday morning, four people in sunglasses aged between 18 and 25 entered the exhibition just after it opened at 11am. One took a hammer out of his sock and threatened the guards with it. A guard grabbed another man around the waist but within seconds the group managed to take a hammer to the plexiglass screen and slash the photograph with another sharp object, thought to be a screwdriver or ice-pick. They also smashed another work, which showed the hands of a meditating nun.

It is impossible not to wonder whether these folks haven’t taken a lesson or two from the more extreme followers of another religion I could mention.

Mind you, read the rest of the article, and it appears that the vandals have issues that are specifically their own, a suspicion somewhat confirmed by this interview (in French) with the archbishop of Vaucluse, who seems to hint that freemasons may be somehow to blame for the exhibition.


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  • Mark in Spokane · April 23, 2011 at 10:46 pm

    Behavior that is rewarded will be repeated. The West bends over backwards to appease terrorists and radicals who are motivated by one religion. That action will result in other radicals motivated by different religions to take similar actions.

    This is also, btw, part of the problem with blasphemy laws. Once one particular belief system is cordoned off from criticism, pretty soon people with other belief systems start demanding equal treatment.

  • John · April 24, 2011 at 9:45 pm

    “The West bends over backwards to appease terrorists and radicals who are motivated by one religion. That action will result in other radicals motivated by different religions to take similar actions.”

    This is a very good point. The good news is that if more than one religion starts doing it, people might come to realize that the solution is to not anyone do it. That would be a better situation than the one we have now.

  • Polichinello · April 25, 2011 at 9:35 pm

    The problem is summed up thus:

    If Andres Serrano had created “Piss Quran” he’d be facing state prosecution in France. Since, instead, it’s “Piss Christ”, he gets state protection and even subsidy.



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