Palm Sunday, 2011, Avignon, France: 4 men in sunglasses with hammers threaten and restrain guards at an art museum displaying Andres Serrano's work "Immersion (piss christ)" smashing the protective lucite around the art-work, they slashed the photograph with a screwdriver and damaged it. It's safe to say that the controversy surrounding Serrano's photo has eclipsed his career; personally I feel his morgue photographs are technically superior - but when religious zealotry encourages attacks on free expression, it must be resisted. The faithful, as well as the atheist, must oppose such attacks on the simple ground that if you implicitly condone attacks against someone else, you cannot lay claim to any support if someone attacks you in the same manner. Ultimately, an attack such as the one on Serrano's photograph is as justifiable as the defacement of a mosque, or a church, or a synagogue. A war of words and ideas is one thing, but when you start getting physical about it, you've crossed the line and become an oppressor, aligned with the jackbooted thug and the uncontrolled mob. Anyone who has ever enjoyed the ability to do something unpopular, in safety, should recognize that the 4 men in France were striking out not merely at a photograph, but at all of our ability to speak our minds safely.
This is my artistic response to those 4 individuals: For every piece of art you destroy, I'll make a replacement. I'm not in Serrano's league - far fewer people will see my response here than have seen Serrano's "piss christ" but I am just one photographer. What if dozens or hundreds (dare I hope thousands?) of artists take up this idea and do their own commentary in kind? By damaging one photograph, I hope these fools in France will spur the creation of more, and more of exactly what it is they are trying to silence.
Technical details: this took 17 boxes of jello and weighed quite a lot when it was ready to de-mold. I had to blowtorch the bottom of the bowl to make it come loose, then somehow flip a 16-lb mass of jello onto the platter without ruining it. Don't forget to use a dishwasher-safe savior!