The world of garbage art is now a little less trashy. On Palm Sunday in the city of Avignon, France, the Piss Christ exhibit, a depiction of a crucifix immersed in a urine-filled glass, was destroyed by several young men who are believed to be Catholic activists. The young men infiltrated the gallery and using paint bombs, a hammer, and a pickaxe, damaged the anti-Christian photograph beyond repair.
This now defunct piece of poppycock that had been laughingly tagged as ‘art’ was contrived by the photographer, Andres Serrano, back in 1987. Mr. Serrano, who has described himself on some occasions as a devout Catholic, stated that the Piss Christ photograph was a criticism of the billion dollar Christ-for-profit industry and was never meant to be blasphemous in any way. But the photograph has been the subject of intense criticism and controversy ever since Mr. Serrano wizzed out this bit of bladder balderdash.
For the past two weeks, there was a concerted campaign in France targeting the gallery and its owner, Yvon Lambert. Organized by the Civitas Institute, a Catholic activist organization, the campaign included thousands of email complaints and an online petition demanding the removal of the photo. Catholic Archbishop Jean-Pierre Cattenoz had called the exhibit “odious” and had demanded that “this trash” be taken off the gallery walls. On Saturday, over 1,000 people marched to the gallery in protest. Another traditionalist Catholic organization, the Society of St. Pius X, had also been very vocal in condemning the exhibit.
After the vandalism, the gallery director declared that the exhibit would reopen with the destroyed works on display “so people can see what barbarians can do.”
When the destruction of the photograph was reported in the French newspapers followed by the usual ministerial castigation from on high about freedom of the arts, many of the comments from frustrated French citizens struck at the heart of the matter. The resentment against the liberal multicultural double standard did not go unnoticed by a fed up French citizenry. Here’s a few observational samples from some disgusted Le Monde readers.
What would one say if an exhibit displayed a depiction of the prophet with a pig’s body soaking in manure. But when it comes to Christianity any picture that scandalizes becomes a work of art.
Go ahead, Third World lovers [meaning the usual leftist readers leaving comments bemoaning Christian fundamentalism]: pissing on the cross (deliberately not capitalized, as I am not a believer) is different from pissing on the Koran, isn’t it?
As far as “works of art” are concerned, it’s easy to find better. Would Mr. Lambert have dared display a work of art called “Piss Allah” (a Qur’an dipped in urine)? If so, he would have risked more than receiving 30,000 emails: complaints from the usual associations, litigation from the district attorney, fatwas, death threats, etc. Speaking of “ignorance” or “intolerance” makes me smile, when what it really is is provocation that inevitably brings on the type of retaliation that even an atheist like me can understand.
I would advise Mr. Lambert to display a Koran soaked in his urine. It would make his role as a victim of fundamentalism much more convincing. In view of the fact that they really run no risks at all, the real reason that all these pseudo-martyrs of art use provocation is only to become celebrities.
Well, I guess where one stands on this cultural act of criminality depends, like everything else in life, on just where one’s political feet are firmly planted. But perhaps there’s a more highbrow way to mull over the destruction of Mr. Pee Brain’s masterpiece. I mean, why not take an elevated view of this artistic act of violence and give credit where credit is due.
Since the art world prides itself on shocking the masses out of their humdrum complacency by pushing that cultural envelope to its outer limits of communal decency, then why condemn those young Turks who simply created their own piece of avant-garde performance art? Using the workingman’s tools of hammer and axe, these heroic hellions breached the boundaries of a tired old anti-Western screed by declaring their utter contempt for that pathetic waste product of a wornout and corrupted faux-arts bourgeoisie. Now isn’t that what progressive expressionism is supposed to be all about?
After viewing Mr. Serrano’s creations and seeing so much of the other tatty bits of artsy tripe shoved at us by publicly funded outlets of ‘high-class’ culture, I think we all know just who among us are the real barbarians.