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Piss Christ - Paradoxes of Aesthetics

Uploaded by duprie37 on Nov 12, 2001

That Andrew Serrano's painting Piss Christ has caused an overwhelming amount of controversy and response is undeniable. A search on The Age's Archives turned up no less than 72 articles related directly to Serrano's Piss Christ, mainly from the time Serrano and the work visited Melbourne during 1997 and 1998. The exhibition of the work provoked some violent responses here. One Timur Grin caused almost $100,000 worth of damage to works at the National Gallery of Victoria, including damage to Piss Christ, although he then claimed not to be offended by the photograph and not even to be a Christian (The Age, 28 March 1998 and 17 April 1998). When the photo arrived in October 1997, the Catholic Church took it to court in order to seek a ban, unsuccessfully, on the public display of the photograph.

Responses have been extremely varied. Some have criticised Serrano's work as dull and read the response to it as the public's "fear of art":

The difficulty is whether the current debate is due to some new phenomena or if it is a manifestation of the old 'fear of art'. I suspect in Serrano's case it is both. Serrano's work is fundamentally conservative and indeed as boring in its spectacle as any 19th Century salon piece. Apart from the obsessive recording of deviant behaviour, or the clinical approach to morbid subject matter, there is beyond that nothing of which to speak. The works are lifeless, tedious, over-inflated and depressing in their complete negation of themselves as gifts to the world. It is certain the reviews and responses would have been savage if it weren't for the expected and current negativity from certain quarters of the public (Fish Communication Network, 1998).

Other commentators have defended the work as a profound piece of religious art:

I wish they'd all lighten up and see this piece for what it is: not blasphemy, but a profoundly religious reflection on the place of Jesus Christ in contemporary society. Yes, it IS disturbing. So? One of the most important functions of art is to disturb, and that, dear flock, includes religious art (Schildgen, 1998).

Others have, in perhaps "typical" Australian fashion, attempted to defuse the hype and 'seriousness' surrounding the whole situation by taking the "piss" out of Piss Christ:

In the tradition of Piss Christ comes Piss Pot, featuring a pot of beer immersed in urine. "Piss Pot is deeply offensive to all Australians," said...

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Uploaded by:   duprie37

Date:   11/12/2001

Category:   Art And Music

Length:   12 pages (2,723 words)

Views:   2503

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