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Indignation over 'shock art' is getting old


Date published: 11/9/2012

Indignation over 'shock art' is getting old

Regarding Dale Taylor's Oct. 19 letter, "Hypocrisy evident in religious affronts": With the reintroduction of Andres Serrano's "P--s Christ" at the Edward Tyler Nahem gallery in New York comes yet another wave of hand-wringing.

People have been causing a fuss over this piece for more than 20 years. It's starting to sound like urban legend, this jar of urine with Jesus inside it (it's actually a photograph, and who knows if it's truly urine that the crucifix is suspended in, but Serrano's affection for bodily fluids is well-known).

I appreciate the context for this new bout of indignation; the parallels to another recent event are self-evident--no one's blown up an embassy over it or killed anyone (to my knowledge) because of it, although, in 2011 people attacked the piece with hammers in an attempt to destroy it, and workers at the French gallery where it was displayed did receive death threats.

But all this is beside the point. I'm actually writing because I think "P--s Christ" has gotten far too much attention for what is, at best, a middling attempt at what people have termed "shock art"--though the artist himself claims it was meant to be nothing of the sort.

If people want something to gasp over, may I suggest checking out Rick Gibson's "Human Earrings" or perhaps Chris Ofili's "The Holy Virgin Mary" or the very timely "Bearded Orientals: Making the Empire Cross" by Priscilla Bracks. There's so much offensive art to choose from!

For those looking to experience true horror, consider how Damien Hirst, one of the world's richest living artists, gets paid for paintings of dots that his assistants actually make.

I've grown weary of hearing about "P--s Christ" over and over again from people who can't even name the artist who did it. Time to move on.

Melissa Deatherage

Fredericksburg