Christians Pissed About ‘Piss Christ,’ Again

Protesters want Andres Serrano's work removed from a show in Corsica.

Andres Serrano, Piss Christ (1987).Photo: Courtesy the artist, via Wikimedia Commons.

Andres Serrano, Piss Christ (1987).
Photo: Courtesy the artist, via Wikimedia Commons.

Protesters swarmed the Fesch Museum in Ajaccio, Corsica on Tuesday and Wednesday, demanding that it remove Andres Serrano’s ever-incendiary work Piss Christ (1987). As Le Figaro reported, approximately 50 people stood outside the museum holding a large sign which read “PISS CHRIST FORA,” or “Piss Christ out.” The protesters contend that the work is an affront to Catholicism and an “insult to every Corsican,” the paper reports. The photograph depicts a small plastic crucifix suspended in a container of the artist’s urine.

Ajaccio mayor Laurent Marcangeli claims that the work will not be removed from the exhibition, which opened June 27 and continues through September 29. The show features Serrano’s works mixed within the Fesch Museum’s collections. Piss Christ itself hangs next to a 18th century painting of the Virgin Mary. Why protesters waited two months to attempt to have the work removed from the show of 120 works in total remains unclear.

Exhibition curator Eric Mézil suggests that the protesters are being unfair regarding the work’s intention, telling Le Figaro “We must see the works for what they are, not for intentions that the artists could be imagined to have had.” Mézil also serves as director of Avignon’s Collection Lambert from which it was loaned for the show. The collection was created by dealer Yvon Lambert, who recently announced that he would close his gallery to focus on exhibitions in Avignon (“Yvon Lambert’s Paris Gallery Shuts Down“). Serrano is one of Lambert’s artists.

When the photograph was shown at the collection in 2011, 35,000 individuals signed a petition launched by Christian lobby group Civitas to have the work taken down. Following a protest march which saw 1,000 people take to the streets of Avignon, a group of four people entered the Collection Lambert and destroyed the work, smashing through a protective layer of Plexiglas with a hammer and then slashing it.

Piss Christ led the National Endowment for the Arts to end single-artist grants in 1989 when two US senators discovered that Serrano was given $15,000 for the photograph. It has drawn consistent controversy in the years since, leading to death threats on the artist.

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