Controversial representation of religious figures and objects has been inciting all the rage these days, and New York-born artist Andres Serrano's work "Piss Christ," which will be on view as part of an exhibition of the artist's work in Midtown next week, is no exception. The piece—a photograph of a crucifix soaked in the artist's urine—was condemned by Staten Island Representative Michael Grimm yesterday, who compared it to Innocence of Muslims, the anti-Islam film that has set off a rash of rioting and violence in the Arab world over the past few weeks.
"As a Catholic, I find 'Piss Christ' to be vulgar and offensive, just as many in the Islamic world found 'Innocence of Muslims' to be highly offensive," Grimm said on Friday, according to the SIlive.com. Grimm also railed at the Obama administration (surprise!) for not stopping the (private) Edward Tyler Nahem Fine Art gallery on W. 57th Street from displaying the work. "The Obama administration's hypocrisy and utter lack of respect for the religious beliefs of Americans has reached an all-time high," he said. "I call on President Obama to stand up for Americans' values and beliefs and denounce 'Piss Christ' that has offended Christians at home and abroad."
And, though Times columnist Nicholas Kristof pointed out in an op-ed piece today that "Piss Christ" did not incite rioting like Innocence of Muslims did because the Arab world is on the brink of revolution, other Christian groups have also compared Serrano's work to the film, and are shaking their fists at Obama for not being more outraged. "It seems like we have a protected class for Muslims as well as some other segments of our population," Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, told Fox News. "But when it comes to Christians, it's an all-out war." Hasn't Stephen Colbert been pointing that out for years?
"Piss Christ" has had a pretty colorful history since its inception in 1987. US Senator Al D'Amato complained to the Senate about the piece in 1989 because it had been partly funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, and just last year assailants destroyed one of the photograph's 10 prints with a hammer while it hung at a French gallery.
A representative from the Edward Tyler Nahem gallery, which will show the piece from September 27 to October 26, told the Post there would be increased security during the exhibition's run. And this isn't the first time a controversial artwork has been condemned by a New York politician; in 1999, then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani slashed funding for the Brooklyn Museum after they displayed Chris Ofili's work The Holy Virgin Mary, which featured a Black Madonna sprinkled with elephant dung and images of female genitalia.