In 1989 the American photographer Andreas Serrano took a picture of a small plastic crucifix submerged in a glass of his own urine and called it “Piss Christ”. Despite winning two major art awards it caused a national outcry and was hurriedly withdrawn from future exhibitions. Now as much as I like a good reactionary piece of art I’ll be honest – this doesn’t really do it for me. But I’d be wrong to dismiss it entirely because this to me is what contemporary art is all about. These so called “shock artists” are supposed to provoke us, coax emotions and opinions from us, stir things up a little. A crucifix in piss might not be our thing but who are we if we don’t have a reaction to it? Modern art should be as much about our reactions as it is about the the art itself.
This week has seen another religious piece of contemporary art withdrawn from view. Canadian artist Cosimo Cavallaro has created a life sized sculpture of Christ out of chocolate. So is this a statement about racism in the church? Or is it perhaps questioning how long religion can last before it melts away? According to the artist himself it is simply a “celebration of the body of Christ in a sweet, delicious, tasteful way”. And the name of this latest shock art masterpiece? “My Sweet Lord.”