AN ARTWORK depicting a crucifix in a glass of urine, named Piss Christ, has been attacked by protesters at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Avignon.
New Yorker Andres Serrano’s photograph was attacked just hours after nearly 1,000 demonstrators gathered to protest over the “blasphemous display” outside the museum.
Two people managed to force their way into the museum and attacked the Piss Christ with a hammer. Another photograph, showing a nun’s hands at prayer, was also attacked.
No one was arrested but security camera pictures have been passed on to police.
The Piss Christ was being shown as part of an exhibition titled I Believe in Miracles to mark the 10th anniversary of the Lambert collection in the former papal city.
Catholic activists from the group Institut Civitas had called the protest about the exhibition and general secretary Alain Escada told La Provence newspaper: “We are living in times of Christianophobia. We demand that this work be withdrawn from the Lambert collection”.
The abbot of Cacqueray said to the newspaper: “Imagine if Mohammed or Anne Frank had been bathed in urine. This secularism is done against Christ while installing Islam in France. We would be as well to rename secularism as Islamism.”
The museum reopens today amid reports that staff have been sent death threats. It has the Piss Christ still in place so people can see the damage.
Created in 1987, the photograph has been called the original “shock art” as it predated many of the more modern examples such as Marcus Harvey’s collage of Myra Hindley created from children’s handprints and Damien Hirst’s shark in formaldehyde.