Piss Christ

Piss Christ

"Piss Christ" is a controversial photograph by American photographer Andres Serrano. It depicts a small plastic crucifix submerged in a glass of the artist's urine. The piece was a winner of the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art's "Awards in the Visual Arts" competition, [ cite web | title=NEA's Cloudy Future | work=Albion Monitor | url=http://monitor.net/monitor//9804a/nea.html | accessdate=February 15 | accessyear=2006 | date=April 9, 1998 ] which is sponsored in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, a United States Government agency that offers support and funding for artistic projects.

Controversy

The piece caused a scandal when it was exhibited in 1989, with detractors, including United States Senators Al D'Amato and Jesse Helms, outraged that Serrano received $15,000 from the taxpayer-funded National Endowment for the Arts for the work. Supporters argue the "Piss Christ" is an issue of artistic freedom and freedom of speech. The journal "Arts & Opinion" describes the controversy as "a clash between the interests of artists in freedom of expression on the one hand, and the hurt such works may cause to a section of the community on the other." [ cite web | title=Sacrifice, Piss Christ and Liberal Excess - opinion & response. | work=Arts & Opinion | url=http://www.artsandopinion.com/2004_v3_n3/pisschrist.htm | accessmonthday=February 5 | accessyear=2006 ]

Sister Wendy Beckett, an art critic and Catholic nun, stated in a television interview with Bill Moyers that she regarded the work as not blasphemous but a statement on "what we have done to Christ" - that is, the way contemporary society has come to regard Christ and the values he represents. [ cite web | title=A consecrated critic - profile of popular television art critic Sister Wendy Beckett | work=Art in America | url=http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1248/is_n7_v86/ai_21113230/pg_2 | accessdate=September 5 | accessyear=2007 |author=Eleanor Heartney | month=July | year=1998 ]

Serrano produced other similar works, without government funding, to much less controversy; "Madonna and Child II" (1989), for example, in which the subject is similarly submerged in urine, is not nearly as well known.

Some have alleged that the government funding of "Piss Christ" violated separation of church and state. [ [http://dlibrary.acu.edu.au/staffhome/dacasey/Serrano.htm Piss Christ and the Serrano Controversy - A theological defence] ] [ [http://michaelmedved.townhall.com/columnists/MichaelMedved/2007/02/28/why_liberals_are_right_to_hate_the_ten_commandments Townhall.com::Why liberals are right to hate the Ten Commandments::By Michael Medved] ] [ [http://www.poppolitics.com/articles/2001/04/04/Holy_Art PopPolitics.com - Holy Art] ]

"Piss Christ" was included in "Down by Law," a "show within a show" on identity politics and disobedience that formed part of the 2006 Whitney Biennial. The BBC documentary "Damned in the USA" explored the controversy surrounding "Piss Christ".

In popular culture

Musical acts including Fear Factory, The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, Momus, Loudon Wainwright III, and The Foremen have lyrically referenced it. The Manic Street Preachers had originally intended to use Piss Christ for the cover of their debut album, Generation Terrorists. However, their record label wanted to avoid any religious controversy, and the royalty was deemed excessive.

ee also

*Religious controversies
*Censorship by religion
*Freedom of speech versus blasphemy
*Grotesque body

References

External links

* [http://www.csulb.edu/~jvancamp/361_r7.html Annotated transcription of U.S. Senate discussion about "Piss Christ"]
* [http://slate.msn.com/id/74144/ Andrew Hudgins's poem "Piss Christ," based on the photograph.]
* [http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=21794 Article on Hate Crime]
*See Serrano's photograph in context of other works considered blasphemous, in S. Brent Plate, "Blasphemy: Art that Offends" ISBN 9781904772538


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Look at other dictionaries:

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