Saturday, February 18, 2006

Excrement, Art, and Culture

I have some further thoughts about art and culture. The NEA has had a tendency to fund controversial art (duh). For some post-modern reason, shock art has been in the forefront in our society for quite awhile (note to artists...get over it already)! Many Christians were up in arms a few years ago, because the NEA funded a piece, if I remember correctly, that was a cross covered in urine. I wonder why we were up in arms? Isn't that a true reflection of our society? Christians considered it an affront to our Christianity, but Jesus stated that the cross WOULD be offensive. Isn't that particular piece representative of a culture that does urinate all over the cross? What was the intention of the artist I wonder? Was it to represent his disgust for the cross, or was it a statement of how Christ is reviled by society. Why are we surprised that the world treats the cross in such a manner. Our society in general is obsessed with excrement anyways. Look at most comedies in America. I label most comedies "scatological humor". There is at least one scene of flatulance, or somebody on a toilet, or references to excrement (I blame the British! They do it with a little more finesse though). Our culture for the most part is going down the toilet, and we as Christians are walking around with toilet paper stuck to our shoe too,wondering why everyone is snickering as we walk by.

I believe this is all intentional on the part of a sovereign God. The dulling of our senses, the dumbing down of our culture, the blatant offenses bring about a stark contrast between Christianity and the world. Why we as Christians scramble to be accepted by the world is beyond me. Why would we want to join throngs eager to embrace such superficiality?

another lamentable fact is that when the Book of Romans states that all of creation speaks of the glory of God, how much of creation is our society absorbing? We view fleeting images of creation on television or movies. The focus is on the superficial. Celebrities, shock art, bare it all biographies, sound bite news, meaningless (which therefore makes it all so so meaningful) art, and trendy spirituality ala Madonna.

I saw a film about banned art in Germany in WWII. Hitler was a frustrated artist, and his art was stilted, amateurish, and his subjects were very very blond. He decided to open a gallery of all the banned (mostly jewish artists) art in Germany. His intention was for people in Germany to file through the gallery mocking the "horrible" art. That particular gallery became the most frequently attended gallery in Germany. The work represented in the gallery gained notoriety and acclaim internationally, and many of the artists are still held in high esteem. Hitler's art is, at best, forgettable and lamentable.

As God's hand of restraint lifts, I wonder how we as Christians respond to such a disposable, constantly shifting (fifteen minutes of fame) culture? If we know we have been given a gift of artistic talent, writing, or do we use our gifts for God's glory? Hopefully we understand that we do more than tack a scripture onto our work and call it a day.


At 11:58 AM, Blogger grant said...

I believe the piece you refered to at the beginning of your post was "Piss Christ" by Andres Serrano. The irony of all the outrage surrounding the piece, was that Serrano considered himself a devout Catholic. The crucifix that is in the bottle of urine is actually a cheap plastic one that one would find in a Christian bookstore. Serrano thought it sad that the Passion of Christ and the art inspired from it had been reduced to cheap plastic junk.

At 12:43 PM, Blogger candyinsierras said...

Wow..great comment! Thanks for filling in the rest of the information. It is funny how people perceive certain aspects of art without critically assessing it from different perspectives.

At 11:40 AM, Anonymous Dan said...

I heard Denis Haack comment on this work. He wishes the evangelical response to Serrano had been more winsome...something like this: "You know, you've hit the Christian message right on the head, because that's exactly what Christ did for us on the cross: in bearing our sins, he covered himself in our shame, our filth, our grime. The cross was utter humiliation for our sake. You have presented a portrait of God's great love."


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