In terms of cultivating a fanbase of rabidly devoted followers, it’s hard to say whether Christianity or Star Wars™ has the edge these days. But Christianity won a point for censorship this week, when outraged churchgoers compelled the removal of a £12,000 (~$16,700) sculpture by British artist Ryan Callanan from a charity auction inside the historic St. Stephen Walbrook church in central London, because it depicted a life-sized Stormtrooper being crucified.
As reported by the London Economic, parishioners complained to the rector, Reverend Jonathan Evans, about the subject matter of the sculpture, which intended to be the centerpiece of a “Stations of the Cross” charity art auction organized by curator Ben Moore for Art Below, which also includes work by other controversial artists, such as Francis Bacon. This is the third annual crucifixion-themed charity auction organized by Moore for the Missing Tom Fund, set up to find his brother, Tom Moore, who has been missing since 2003. Moore clarified that the statue would go on sale following the exhibition’s close on March 23. The historic church, built according to designs by Christopher Wren after the Great London Fire of 1666, is home to a polished stone altar by Henry Moore.
Rev. Evans expressed disappointment in the removal of the statue, appearing to take a philosophical view on the work. He is quoted in London Economic as saying: “For me, ‘Stormtrooper Crucifixion’ raises similar questions to those which C.S. Lewis raised in his science fiction trilogy — that, were other races to exist on other planets, would Christ be incarnated among those races in order to die for their salvation?” The artist seemed not to reflect as directly on Christ as an inspiration for the work, when interviewed via email by Hyperallergic.
“This is a crucified Stormtrooper and has nothing to do with religion,” said Callanan. “It [was] not a method of capital punishment reserved for the Son of God.” Callanan’s work often remixes cultural and pop-cultural symbols — particularly from the Star Wars franchise — to create new tableaus and associations. The artist appears to be taking the effort to censor his art in stride, but raises the valid point that perhaps Christianity has image problems that require more immediate attention.
“The piece being taken down is a sign of the times. The offended few out-voice the supportive / pleased many,” he said. “I think churchgoers should be more vocal about the abuse that many children worldwide have had to go through, rather than a piece of science fiction cult art.”
Callanan is certainly not alone in his use of crucifixion imagery in art, or his concerns about greater abuses at the hands of organized religion. This sentiment is reminiscent of the work of Cuban artist Erik Ravelo, who faced issues of censorship by Facebook over his inflammatory photo series, Los Intocables, which portrayed children crucified against the backs of their oppressors — including a young boy in his underwear hanging from the back of a Catholic priest. But Callanan appears to maintain a more lighthearted view of the situation, in line with the happy-face motifs and grinning poo emojis that punctuate much of his work.
The artist added: “Maybe it will resurrect in a few days?”
Increased oil tanker truck traffic would “seriously degrade” the experience of viewing the canyon’s Indigenous rock art, said one advocate of the site.
This week, AP Style Twitter goes wild, the “enshittification” of TikTok, and did people actually come flooding back to New York City after COVID?
Scores of cultural heritage sites are in ruins amid a fragile truce and an ongoing war of narratives.
Jafar Panahi was arrested last July, after he participated in protests at the notorious Evin prison.
Join the New-York Historical Society on February 10 for a virtual conversation about our changing relationship to the natural world with Julie Decker, John Grade, and LaMont Hamilton.
Designed by artist Christine Egaña Navin, the items will be offered by Project Art Distribution at this weekend’s NADA Flea Market.
The French painter felt he had to rise to the challenge of one question above all things else: What exactly is it to be a modern artist?
Philipsz’s haunting sound and video artworks serve as a poignant witness to the lives and artistry of victims of the Holocaust.
Passamaquoddy citizen Chris Newell is imparting his knowledge of the Wabanaki Confederacy to advise on the Portland Museum of Art’s expansion.
Presented by Northwestern’s Block Museum and McCormick School of Engineering, this new exhibition seeks empathy at the boundaries of life. On view in Evanston, Illinois.
The artist’s site-specific museum exhibition Three Parallels glows with choreographed colored light.
In an open letter, European institutional leaders defend Manuel Borja-Villel, who has faced right-wing attacks for his progressive programming.