Christian fundamentalists in France destroy "Piss Christ" artwork
Apr 18, 2011, 9:32 GMT
Paris - A group of Christian fundamentalists armed with hammers and screwdrivers destroyed two artworks in an exhibition in the southern French city of Avignon at the weekend, one of which depicted a crucifix immersed in urine, French media reported Monday.
The attack on the photographs of US artist Andres Serrano, which were being shown as part the I Believe in Miracles exhibition of contemporary art followed calls by the local Catholic archbishop for the 'Piss Christ' photograph to be taken down.
The photograph, taken by Serrano in 1987, shows a plastic crucifix wallowing in a glass of the artist's urine. The Christ figure appears to glow in the image, which caused a scandal when it was first exhibited in 1989 and which has since toured the world.
Civitas, a lobby group which says it aims to 're-Christianize France,' called the piece 'sacrilege vis-a-vis God and Catholics' and launched a petition for it to be removed from the exhibition at the residence housing the Yvon Lambert collection.
On Saturday a group of around 500 people shouting Christian slogans demonstrated outside the building, Liberation reported.
The following day four youths wearing sunglasses entered the building and surrounded two security guards stationed in front of the artwork, while others began hacking at it and another of Serrano's photographs, showing a nun meditating.
Culture Minister Frederic Mitterand denounced the incident as an 'attack on the freedom of creation.'
While 'recognizing that the (Piss Christ) artwork could shock certain audiences,' Mitterand said 'any act of violence, destruction and intolerance is unacceptable.'
The attack is not the first involving the artwork. A copy of Piss Christ was vandalized at the National Gallery of Victoria in the Australian city of Melbourne in 1997, during a Serrano retrospective.
The Melbourne gallery later cancelled the show.
Eric Mezil, the director of the Lambert collection, said he would leave the shattered artworks hanging so that the public could 'appreciate the barbarity committed by extremists.'
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