Fair use rationale:
- low web-resolution image that adds considerably to the Wikipedia article which discuss the image (Piss Christ).
- the image is significant due to the controversy which surround it.
Trigger Warning – today we meet Offensive/ Provocative Jesus.
You know the score – look at the image first. Spend some time really looking at the image, the face, and the background. How does the image make you feel? What questions does it raise? Do you think it’s a good representation of Jesus, and if so what attributes do you feel the artist is trying to portray? You may wish to write some of your thoughts down.
Here’s the first link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piss_Christ#/media/File:Piss_Christ_by_Serrano_Andres_(1987).jpg
When I saw today’s image for the first time, I was offended. In fact, that’s not true. When I saw it I thought it was beautiful. I was offended when I saw it’s title and when I was told how it was made. The photo is of a small wooden and plastic crucifix floating in the artist’s urine. This artwork has caused loads of controversy. It’s been picketed, vandalised, and discussed in various governments. The artist, Andres Serrano, states that he didn’t create the piece to be controversial. He’s Catholic and self-identifies as a Jesus follower. He sees the work as saying something about the cheapening of religion in commercialised society, and that the bodily fluids say something about the horror of the crucifixion. It’s not everybody’s cup of tea.
But, I think it does have something to say to us about the life of Jesus. We may have reacted, over the past few days, to a sanitized version of Jesus portrayed in the previous artworks – you cannot say that of Immersion. Maybe we react to the swearing more than the image, so I choose to focus on that bit of the artist’s title for the work.
The incarnation of God as man should be controversial. If we have an understanding of who God is, and we know the mess of the world, then the two coming together is shocking. And Jesus as a person and what he said caused huge offence in His community. People tried to throw him off cliffs, his family tried to snatch Him away because they thought He was mad, and the leaders wanted him dead. And eventually, people conspired to have Him executed in a brutal way. Crucifixion didn’t make Jesus special – plenty of people were executed by the Romans by crucifixion all over the empire. But Jesus was special, and He died in a brutal way.
In 1 Corinthians 1 Paul say he preaches “Christ crucified” which is scandalous to the Jews and foolishness to the gentiles. Skandalon, in Greek is to trap or to shipwreck; moria (foolishness) means to make fools of those who are obsessed with rationalising everything. Is our view of Jesus so sanitized that we forget to see how contrary to our human nature God’s mission through Jesus was and is? Are we tripped up because we’ve sanitized the story so much that we fail to be outraged and offended by it? Do we have everything so worked out that we skip over the Jesus who does things we don’t like?
I know this image is probably much harder to handle than the others we’ve looked at, but maybe we need to come afresh to the offensive/provocative Jesus sometimes.
Sit again with the image and allow God to speak to you. Read a gospel account of the passion story with the image in front of you and allow God to speak through it.
I’ll send the last image tomorrow…