Andres Serrano’s Piss Christ Vandalized on Palm Sunday in France (VIDEO)

In 1987, the New York artist Andres Serrano ignited a national and religious controversy when he stuck a plastic crucifix into a glass of his own urine, photographed it, and entitled it Immersion (Piss Christ). Serrano emphasized that he was making a statement about the commercialization and cheapening of religious icons in contemporary culture. Many did not (as you may imagine) understand the artwork in this way. In 1989, Piss Christ was the reason for an ultra-heated debate in the US about the use of public funds for art.

During that debate, Republican Senator Jesse Helms told the Senate that Serrano was

“not an artist. He’s a jerk”

Others apparently agreed with the Senator, as Piss Christ was vandalized in Australia, while a 2007 Serrano show in Sweden was ransacked by neo-Nazis.

Earlier this week, Piss Christ has again been vandalized, this time by French Catholic fundamentalists in the southern city of Avignon as part of an “anti-blasphemy” campaign. For the past for months, the artwork has been shown as part of an exhibition, I Believe in Miracles, in the gallery of prominent art dealer Yvon Lambert. But for the past two weeks, Christian protesters have launched a growing campaign. On Saturday, 1,000 of them — including a regional councillor for the extreme-right Front National — marched through Avignon to the gallery. Afterwards, plexiglass was installed in front of the artwork and two gallery guards assigned to watch it.

This video shows Piss Christ in the gallery in Avignon before it was vandalized.

Last Sunday—Palm Sunday—the Guardian reports this attack on the artwork:

…on Palm Sunday morning, four people in sunglasses aged between 18 and 25 entered the exhibition just after it opened at 11am. One took a hammer out of his sock and threatened the guards with it. A guard grabbed another man around the waist but within seconds the group managed to take a hammer to the plexiglass screen and slash the photograph with another sharp object, thought to be a screwdriver or ice-pick. They also smashed another work, which showed the hands of a meditating nun.

The gallery director, Eric Mézil, said it would reopen with the destroyed works on show “so people can see what barbarians can do”. He said there had been a kind of “inquisition” against the art work.

In a statement, he said the movement against Piss Christ had started at the time of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s ruling UMP party’s controversial debate on religion and secularism in France. At a record low in the polls before next year’s presidential election, Sarkozy has been accused of using anti-Muslim and extreme-right rhetoric to appeal to voters and counter the rise of the Front National.

The violent damage done to Piss Christ has, says Guardian, “plunged secular France into soul-searching about Christian fundamentalism and Nicolas Sarkozy’s use of religious populism in his bid for re-election next year.”

You can see a photo of the vandalized photograph of Piss Christ via the French newspaper Le Monde.

The director of the gallery collection, Eric Mézil, reports that the gallery staff has received death threats. The exhibit reopened yesterday under heightened security, including metal detectors, searches of visitors’ bags, and two policemen making regular rounds in the vicinity of the gallery.

I rather think the damaged Piss Christ makes a potentially more powerful statement, especially the excessive use of violence against art.


Image of Piss Christ from a video by tv2news2011 via YouTube.

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Adam Bryl
Adam Bryl4 years ago

Well, it's good to hear that Christians are doing something else than discriminating gays or indoctrinating their children.

Sue T.
Susan T.4 years ago

'specially dog urine...

Sue T.
Susan T.4 years ago

@ Michael R. 5* ~~~ imagine what a pic of Muhammed in urine would have caused....

Sue T.
Susan T.4 years ago

art , this has nothing to do with art, never did.

Luann DeLuca
Luann DeLuca4 years ago

To paraphrase what is now probably the most well-known quotation/opinion on art, I have to throw my hat in with -
"I don't pretend to know what art is, but I know what it isn't, and this ain't art."

Andrew D.
Andrew D.4 years ago

So what if it was "vandalized", it was a photo about desecration. If Andres Serrano set a Quran on fire then took photos, would most you view the same way?

monica r.
monica r.4 years ago

Andres Serrano appears to have been severely dehydrated.

Eight 8-ounce glasses a day dude. Seriously.

Michael R.
Michael R.4 years ago

What's the big deal? It's not like he drew a picture of Mohamed.

Anne Ortiz Talvaz

This gives two possibilities:
1. If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose.

2. If Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over.

So which is it? If we accept the postulate given to me by Ms.Banyan during my freshman year that, "It will be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with you" and we take into account the fact that I still have not succeeded in having sexual relations with her, then #2 cannot be true.
Thus I am sure that Hell is exothermic and will not freeze.

The student received the only "A" given.

Anne Ortiz Talvaz

Supposedly the following is real, a mid-term Chemistry exam question given at the University of Washington and the student's response is true.

Bonus Question:
Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)?

Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle's Law, (gas cools off when it expands and heats up when it is compressed) or some variant.

One student however, wrote the following:

First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in time. So we need to know the rate that souls are moving into Hell and the rate they are leaving.
I think we can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving. As for how many souls are entering Hell, let's look at the different religions that exist in the world today. Some of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to hell. Since there are more than one of these religions and since people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all souls go to hell.
With birth and death rates as they are we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially.
Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume of Hell because Boyle's Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to expand as souls are added.

This gives two possibilities:
1. If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, the