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Christian-Mocking “Art” On Display In Australia

From those defenders of the faith (Islam) at Reuters:

The Blake Prize entry titled ‘Bearded Orientals: Making the Empire Cross’ by artist Priscilla Bracks is exhibited in Sydney August 30, 2007. The ‘double vision’ print, which depicts both Jesus Christ and Osama bin Laden, in a Christ-like pose, depending on which side the viewer looks at the artwork, has been criticised by Australia’s Prime Minister John Howard for undermining Australians’ religious beliefs.

Christ-like bin Laden image stirs debate in Australia

By Katrine Narkiewicz Thu Aug 30

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Artworks depicting Osama bin Laden in a Christ-like pose and a statue of the Virgin Mary covered in a burqa have caused a stir in Australia after they were showcased in a prestigious religious art competition.

“Bearded Orientals: Making the Empire Cross” by Priscilla Bracks is a “double vision” print that depicts both Jesus and bin Laden.

Luke Sullivan’s “The Fourth Secret of Fatima” is a statue of Mary, her head and torso obscured by a blue burqa like the one Afghan women had to wear under the militant Taliban.

The artworks were among more than 500 entries in the Blake Prize for Religious Art, and have been included in an exhibition at the National Art School in Sydney.

The choice of such artwork is gratuitously offensive to the religious beliefs of many Australians,” Australian Prime Minister John Howard told Thursday’s Daily Telegraph newspaper.

Opposition Labor leader Kevin Rudd also criticized the artwork. “I accept you know people can have artistic freedom, but I find this painting off, off in the extreme. I understand how people would be offended by it,” he said.

Australia’s 20 million population is overwhelmingly Christian and the print was condemned by the Australian Christian Lobby.

“It’s really unfortunate people take liberties with the Christian faith they wouldn’t take with other religions,” Lobby spokeswoman Glynis Quinlan told reporters

Spokesperson for the Blake Prize, Reverend Rod Pattenden, defended he controversial selection for this year’s competition, saying the aim of the prize was to encourage discussion about spirituality in society — the goal of both artists

The Blake Prize entry titled ‘The Fourth Secret of Fatima’ by artist Luke Sullivan is exhibited in Sydney August 30, 2007. The statue of the Virgin Mary, wearing a burqa, has been criticised by Australia’s Prime Minister John Howard for undermining Australians’ religious beliefs.

Priscilla Bracks’s oh-so-naughty exhibition, “Bearded Orientals: Making the Empire Cross” can be viewed here.

But here is another example of her artistry, along with her oh-so-clever exegesis::

About Making the Empire Cross

A long, long time ago, in a land far, far away …

A preacher, a hegemonic ruler, and his inappropriate use of nails threatened the tenuous balance of power in a remote outpost of the Empire. These ‘troubles’, which have since grown to plague the entire planet, are documented by the chronicle – Making the Empire Cross.

In Unleashed! – the first episode for the new millennium – the peace of the New World is shattered by the evil Jihad Joe who storms the Capital, destroying everything in his path. It seems clear that this dealer of death is merely a foot soldier in a war between two fundamentalist groups, each fighting for the supremacy of their own self-styled hegemony. But many questions remain.

Who is Public Enemy Number 1? And who is this two-bit dictator wading into a battle that has now raged for two millennia? A babble of speculation filled the news-wire, opinions were offered, and official statements released. But just when the truth seemed within reach, a strange silence descended upon the people….

The Queensland Government, through Arts Queensland, has provided $9,999 to Priscilla Bracks to produce and present this series of artworks.

That’s right. Ms. Bracks’s exhibit was funded by Australian taxpayers’ dollars.

Here is the painting of Jesus, the Osama Bin Laden image juxtaposed with it, and the artist’s (clearly revised in the face of recent criticism) "statement":

Bearded Orientals Making the Empire Cross by Priscilla Bracks 2006

Lenticular Image (Pigment Ink Digital Print) in a Gold Frame
40 x 40 cm
Edition of 8

Artist Statement

This work is concerned with relationships between contemporary popular culture, and the futures we (for better or for worse) create.

It is not intended as a statement but rather as a means to ask questions. In particular, I’m questioning the relationships between media, popular culture, and the development of truth, history and ideology.

When you observe these two people, Osama Bin Ladin and Jesus, their ethics could not be more different. But they were both pursued by two of the world’s most powerful armies – the US and the Roman armies. Jesus is clearly defined by history, but I am interested in how history will treat the image of Osama.

There is a very real possibility that by giving such significant media attention to those who commit crimes and advocate violence, we may inadvertently elevate of them [sic] to a status where in some circles, they are perceived as sacred and holy – revered in the same way we revere Jesus.

This work has quite an open text so people are likely to read the image in many different ways. Some have mentioned they see it as a juxtaposition of good and evil, whilst others are interested in its comment on how iconic figures are created.

To me this work is a cautionary tale about our fixation with crime, violence and catastrophe. Access to information is important and there are instances where this has been well balanced with the temptation to sensationalise. No war was declared against the Lockerby [sic] bombers. Instead they were extradited and tried for murder amidst media coverage that left few people with a lingering memory of their names. Similarly, Martin Bryant was moved to an inner cell in his Tasmanian prison to ensure his media attention did not turn him into a cult figure like Charles Manson. There is a wisdom in this approach that has been forgotten in the case of Bin Laden, and this lapse may have unintended, unwelcome effects in the future.

Priscilla Bracks

August 2007

Gosh, that is deep.

And so daring.

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Thursday, August 30th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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