Thursday, July 12, 2007

Art Space News: Controversial Sculpture of Pope is Pulled From Exhibit


Organizers of an exhibition on the relationship between homosexuality and art said Wednesday they were removing a controversial sculpture depicting Pope Benedict in drag. The sculpture has caused public outcry. However, the censorship of the piece has also caused a stir.
The sculpture, titled "Miss Kitty" by Paolo Schmidlin, portrays the Pope wearing nothing but thigh-high stockings, a pair of panties and a stole.The sculpture, which is adorned with a blonde bob wig, offended the Catholic Anti-Defamation League, which threatened to seek charges against the organizers and exhibit promoters for defaming a head of state.

The exhibit in Milan, Italy, drew harsh protest from the Catholic Anti-Defamation League and others who found the sculpture of the Pope in drag to be unacceptable. In an official statement, the Catholic Anti-Defamation League declared that the controversial sculpture is a "vulgar offence against Christ's vicar and the feelings of Roman Catholics,". However, others have stated the censorship of the sculpture is another example of "Organized religion dictating the role of art." and that "This type of censorship should not be happening in 2007!".

Eugenio Viola, the curator of the exhibit, has postponed the opening by three days and is in the process of reprinting exhibit catalogues in order to remove "Miss Kitty" and another controversial piece that depicted Premier Roman Prodi's spokesman talking to a transvestite, whose face is superimposed with an image of Jesus Christ.
Viola has stated that the exhibit was intended to be provocative and to question the perceptions of viewers in regards to religion within the context of secular culture. Viola charged that "The value of art from the period of the avant-garde onward has been to free oneself from the dogmatic and ecclesiastic censors,".

In an interesting twist the sculpture has been purchased by Milan's top culture official, Vittorio Sgarbi for an undisclosed price. The exhibition, which is backed by Sgarbi, opens Thursday in the Palazzo della Ragione and runs through Sept. 16. Organizers have been asked to ban children under 18 years of age from observing the exhibit.

What do you think about this censorship? Should artists and curators be free to exhibit art that displays a controversial stance against political and religious leaders? Is some art not meant to be seen by the general public? What is your opinion?

Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin

15 comments:

Peter Klint said...

Religion should be forbidden. It only causes intolerance and strife between people.

Anonymous said...

Censorship, of course, sucks. That said, the site, Milan, is in a country that allows things like lawsuits for offending someone, and the subsequent "unofficial" censorship that derives from it.

The work itself doesn't even rise to the level of "Piss Christ" for offensiveness, in my book. But then again, I wasn't offended at that either.

Anonymous said...

This is a really interesting post you put up, to be honest I wasn't too shocked to see the sculpture itself, but wasn't surprised it was censored also. I think artists vent out their opinions through their art, so however vulgar the art piece should be, it should be shown but probably not to the general public. But this did make me think of how people respond to pieces of art works in the world today. If we have people wearing shirts that shows your stance on political and religious stand points, why not in art? I don't know, I have mixed feelings about this one

Anonymous said...

Honestly, why defame someone needlessly? I don't know a lot about this particular pope or the statement the artist was trying to make, but making anyone look bad deliberately is just in poor taste. I would HATE to be in the public eye. The minute you are known by more than 10 people, you are considered public property to be shamed, humiliated, defaced and a platform for whatever someone ELSE wants to say. (Regardless of whether or not it has anything to do with you.) A political cartoon is one thing. Full scale sculpture means the artist is out for blood.

According to the Catholic church, the pope (and all clergy) are supposed to be celibate. I know that there have been scandals (etc.) but to presume some kind of sexual mischieviousness and superimpose it upon a public figure is unfair. How would the artist feel if someone made a 9 foot painting of them exterminating homosexuals? I agree with the authorities on this one. (Especially in Miilan, which is supposedly catholic.)

krzysztof rosa said...

and what about Pope rights , what about rights of people who dont want to be shown in such vulgar way, what about rights of people who believ that Pope is succesor of Jesus Christ (Holy Father), yes as artists we could show anything we want but sometimes it is a shame we think we are Gods and we could judge other people, I try not to judge this artist, I am not a Christian but it doesnt mutter who am I , it is true that very often religion causes intolerance, but we are people, we must believe in something and our belive is our religion, we must live with that and no one have the right to make fun of it, I dont know if it sholud be pulled out from exhibit, I have pulled out an artist who did it from my minde , in art to shock or to make fun from everything is the easy way, the hardest is to finde the true

Anonymous said...

I find it amusing and challenging. I love anything that pokes a finger at the hypocrisy of conventional wisdom.
Even in the most distasteful ways.

But then I'm a product of Western culture... and Mad Magazine.

Anonymous said...

It definitely sets one thinking. After all, one can never really know. Seems a bit passe, though, as far as making a social statement. The Catholic Church had their fast forward button pushed a few years ago. It will be interesting to see where it ends up.

Anonymous said...

I feel that peices like this serves no real purpose. What is this sculpture saying? The artist can probably rattle off some crap about social commentary. But really it's just ment to shock and poke fun at a group of people the artist dosn't like. I think that if it was a privite show then no it shouldn't have been pulled, but if it's a public show then yes.
wendy

Naive John said...

krzysztof rosa said '...we must believe in something and our belive is our religion, we must live with that and no one have the right to make fun of it,...'

I believe this notion to be intellectually redundant. No one is entitled to have their beliefs revered without question. Respect is earned not demanded. Religion should be as open to criticism and irreverence as much as any other ideology. I laugh at the Flat Earth Society, for example, because I find their beliefs to be patently ridiculous. Likewise the idea of an infallible Pope. No one has the right to not be offended.

Jim said...

Horrifying work. That is not to say "good" or "bad" work. Probably good because of its ability to solicite such a reaction. This should never be censored. This type of work should make one's convistion all the stronger despite the position heald.

Digital Art Tips said...

Everyone seems to be posting comments about the Pope exhibit. What about the other work mentioned where the face of Jesus was put onto another piece of art. WHICH FACE?
As no-one has any idea really what Jesus looked like, what difference can it possibly make?
With regard to the Pope statue, we only know what we are told, maybe he does have a secret desire to dress up like that we shall never know.
I do know that religion has been responsible for more deaths than any atheists... Yet we are taught' Thou shalt not kill'. I want to be able to call myself an atheist as I am really beginning to believe that religion is a terrible sin.

violet_yoshi said...

With the Pope looking like that, he looks ready to join the rock band Rammstein! Yes, I'm saying this, because he happens to be German. I really do love the band too though.

Sare said...

I do not think there should be censorship of any pieces of art, regardless of who the art is portraying. It is important to have works freely exhibited. The artists have just as much of a right to display their opinions as any other person. Yes, they may be doing it visually which can be even more offensive than words, but that does not mean it must be banned from public face. People need to approach art with an open mind. Feel free to feel offended, that's wonderful. It is provoking an emotion. But don't let that feeling get out of bounds and rob the culture of artworks.

Anonymous said...

Cool !!!! All Sculpture Showing How Sick Religions Are, Must be open to all...

George Lichtveld said...

If sculptor Paulo Schmidlin is so courageous to mock the hightest authority of the Roman Catholic church, why not do the same thing to the Islamic religion? Lets see what happens then.