Friday, March 30, 2007

Chocolate Jesus

Artist, Cosimo Caravallo, has created a life-size crucified naked Jesus
made from chocolate, titled My Sweet Lord. It’s to be exhibited from 2 April in the Lab Gallery at the Roger Smith Hotel in New York.

The sculpture has attracted criticism, both from critics and from religious groups such as the Catholic League, which has called for a boycott of the gallery and hotel.

It’s unclear to me precisely what the Catholic League find offensive, even after reading their website. It might be that Jesus is naked on the cross, without a loincloth, but this is historically accurate. The humiliation of nakedness was part of the punishment.

It could be that the League views the very idea of a chocolate Jesus artwork as offensive in itself, but why that should be is hard to explain. Trivial and stupid perhaps, but not offensive.

Apparently Caravallo has invited members of the public to eat the statue at a certain point, but this invitation has only recently been made and can’t be the reason for objection.

The exhibition has been timed to open during Holy Week, which is an obvious provocation. I suppose it makes me suspect the motives of the artist. It looks like a cheap shot at publicity. He no doubt hopes that shock value might get more people through the gallery doors and get him in the public eye. I don’t find that kind of thing offensive, only pathetic.

The gallery’s Creative Director Matt Semler says, ''The sign of any great artist is how their work affects the observer." It’s that word “how” that’s the key. If it merely offends people’s beliefs, or if it gives viewers the impression of a publicity stunt, I don’t how that’s any sign of a great work of art.

So what is the point of it? I guess ideas like society's over-indulgence, faith (or perhaps postmodern art? heh heh) as transient commodity, religion as a sugar-coated pill etc might be banded about as giving meaning to the piece. But such labels are just psuedo-intellectual commentary. Looking at the picture at the link, and trying to imagine it real-size, I can’t say it says much to me.

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