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Will Serrano survive?
How the famous art work of Andres Serrano has been renewed by fundamentalist Christians protesters: one more time Piss Christ leaves a strong sign on contemporary society…

Andres Serrano (New York, 1950) ’s Piss Christ, the shot of a small plastic crucifix flooded into a glass of the artist's urine, made in 1987, has crossed thirty years almost, in which fame and defamation have characterized its existence, at once. One of the most representative American artists in the States, Serrano has based his works on a sincere reproduction of reality, exploiting  all potentialities of the traditional photo cameras, since his beginnings in 1983.
Serrano reaches his personal purpose, arresting time and space of the fluid of life. The challenge is against death, conceived as the disappearance of the organic forms of the world. This is the reason of the perfect images present in Serrano’s work, shooting every kind of dramatic or disturbing objects/subjects of society, and enclosing them inside immortal frames. Serrano’s series The Morgue, for example, started in 1998, and was characterized by special bold perspectives and bright surfaces for these dead subjects, coming out from a profound knowledge of the Renaissance protagonists. It showed aesthetic dignity towards every product of nature, and was in fact a real hymn to creation. Urine, semen, menstrual blood, human female milk, became fundamental elements of his works, as traces of life: in this way Piss Christ was born at the end of the ‘80s. "The idea was more to humanize the figure of Christ. My goal in the end is to make beautiful objects from unorthodox materials," the artist recalled at the time.


Since last December 12 an important retrospective, “I believe in miracles”, which celebrates the 10th anniversary of Yvon Lambert galleries, whom the artist’s work belongs to, has been opened in Avignon, offering a big panoramic of Serrano’s photographs, including Piss Christ. After several verbal and physic attacks during these years (by conservative senators Al D’Amato and Jesse Helms in 1989 to start with; by a Swedish Nazi group in Lund in 2007, the last one), but it was awarded by the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art with the "Award in Visual Arts" competition in 1989. The photograph has unleashed a significant protest last week organized by Civitas, a lobby group of fundamentalist Christians. One thousand people last April 16 paraded in front of the museum, including some members of the Front National, supported by the archbishop of Vaucluse, Jean-Pierre Cattenoz. On Sunday, two men, entered to see the exhibit and have damaged the plexiglass screen of the work, hitting it with hammers and screwdrivers. Eric Mézil, director of the gallery, has said that museum would reopen leaving the destroyed works on show "so people can see what barbarians can do”.


The traditional dispute between secular and religious powers on societies remains a decisive step to cross, when art speaks about the contemporary contexts in which it has been created. The hope is represented, as always, from the dialogue. It is not a case If Albert Rouet, archbishop of Poitiers and co-author of a book entitled The Church and Avant-Garde Art-From Provocation to Dialogue-Flesh and God, has written "that there has never been for Serrano the slightest desire to offend the crucified one," declaring, at the end of this dissertation, that the photographer is "a great artist of this century, possessing one of the most exact visions of the world around us."

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From December the 12nd to May the 8th, 2011
I believe in miracles -

Musée d’art contemporain
5 rue Violette, 84 000 Avignon

T : +33 (0)4 90 16 56 20 / F : +33 (0)4 90 16 56 21 / E :


Reserved Reproduction