Piss Christ  

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Piss Christ is a controversial photograph by American photographer Andres Serrano. It depicts a small plastic crucifix supporting the body of Jesus Christ submerged in a glass of the artist's urine. The piece was a winner of the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art's "Awards in the Visual Arts" competition, which is sponsored in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, a United States Government agency that offers support and funding for artistic projects.

The piece caused a scandal when it was exhibited in 1989, with detractors accusing Serrano of blasphemy and others raising this as a major issue of artistic freedom. On the floor of the United States Senate, Senators Al D'Amato and Jesse Helms expressed outrage that the piece was supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, since it is a federal taxpayer-financed institution.

Sister Wendy Beckett, an art critic, consecrated virgin and Catholic nun, voiced her approval of Piss Christ. She explained in a television interview with Bill Moyers that she regarded the work as a statement on "what we have done to Christ" - that is, the way contemporary society has come to regard Christ and the values he represents.

Serrano produced other similar works to much less controversy; Madonna and Child II (1989), for example, in which the subject is similarly submerged in urine, is not nearly as well known as "Piss Christ".

Piss Christ is often used as a test-case for the idea of freedom of speech, and was described in the journal Arts & Opinion as "a clash between the interests of artists in freedom of expression on the one hand, and the hurt such works may cause to a section of the community on the other."

Some have claimed that Piss Christ violated Separation of church and state.

In popular culture

  • Piss Christ was included in "Down by Law," a "show within a show" on identity politics and disobedience that formed part of the 2006 Whitney Biennial.
  • The BBC documentary "Damned in the USA" is (for a major part) about the controversy surrounding "Piss Christ".

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Piss Christ" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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