tisdag 3 juli 2007

Andres Serrano - cultural hooligan


I was recently on a trip away with a friend who suggested that we go to a gallery which was exhibiting photographs by Andres Serrano, whose name meant nothing to me.

The gallery was closed, so I asked my friend about what we had missed. The reply was that his work was "extreme" - that he had done something called "Piss Christ", which I will not reproduce on my blog, but is a photograph of a cheap plastic crucifix in a basin of the photographer's urine. My friend is ok but has a hang-up about Christianity and presumably approves of the work. Apparently, so does the contemplative nun Sister Wendy Beckett, and her's is a valid interpretation, but I doubt if the photographer's intention was anything other than to mock Christianity. Defacing other people's devotional objects is a species of cultural hooliganism no different in principle from leaving pig's heads on the doorsteps of mosques.

This sort of thing does not bother me, as the Lord can look after himself, but it is odd how people can't leave religion alone when they claim to have walked away from it, as though they imagine bits of plastic and other representations still have power over them. It is the ultimate superstition when governments blow up statues and people who purport to be artists deface gimcrack religious artefacts.

What sad people they must be that they cannot let it go. C S Lewis made a reference to it in his book That Hideous Strength, when the hero is asked to tread on a crucifix and comes to realise at that moment that there is a spiritual force driving those who are asking him to perform this act.

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