Irish Central

Danny Boy by Daniel O'Carroll

Posted on Wednesday, June 22, 2011 at 11:41 AM

'Blasphemous' exhibit sparks international outrage, before it's even begun

A 'blasphemous' exhibit depicting 'Our Lady of Guadalupe' in a floral bikini is to go on show in University College Cork (UCC) tomorrow -- and critics have begun attacking the 'artwork' before it's even begun.

'Our Lady and Other Queer Santas' is the brainchild of Alma Lopez, a graduate of the University of California at Irvine - a well-known target of criticism from religious Catholic groups, and is being displayed as part of a weekend conference on Hispanic Studies taking place at the university.

The conference is to discuss the ins and outs of Chicano culture, alongside a discussion of the plight of Mexicans in US culture, but it's the exhibit that has been making the headlines recently, and attracting the critics.

A discussion on popular Irish radio broadcaster Joe Duffy's Liveline programme gave airtime to some strong opponents of the exhibition, while a number of figures on the blogosphere have criticized the display, which is due to go on show in the college's O'Rahilly Building.

This morning local politician Jerry Buttimer even chimed in with his two cents, calling it 'denigrating' to adherents of the Catholic faith.

The exhibit sits very broadly within the context of a larger debate in Irish society about blasphemy itself.

A controversial 'Blasphemy Law' was passed at the start of this year, and was decried as a retrograde step by many in the Irish media at the time.

It's since been proven to be largely irrelevant and unenforceable -- 'blasphemous' utterances and displays, such as (arguably) this, continue to go on, and its use seems likely to be largely nfined to cases of blasphemy that are likely to incite hatred on religious grounds. Nevertheless, it continues to prove to be a major bone of contention between the law-making establishment and those governed by its decrees.

Irish universities are also generally libertarian in nature (as they are almost everywhere), and this display (which has attracted local as well as international attention), is a typical case of the collegiate 'free speech' movement clashing with the pervasive (though rapidly demising) influence of the Catholic Church, which once held such an iron-cast grip on Irish society.

As for my own two cents on the exhibition (this being a blog, after all), I have no shame in admitting that I would lend my broad support to those signing petitions against it.

Sensitivity to religion and other peoples' belief systems cannot simply be whitewashed away under a mass current of free speech and libertarianism, and this depiction - while not grossly offensive or obscene - could still find a more suitable home than at a university, which is supposed, at least in my understanding of the concept, to be a place of mutual respect and understanding for others.

> Interesting article from the Irish Examiner with a little more detail about it, here.

There are 49 comments for this item

Report abuse Posted by seanomelbourne on Jun 28, 2011, 08:33 PM EDT
Maybe the centre piece should picture a magdelene sister sprouting horns

Report abuse Posted by GeorgeDillon on Jun 28, 2011, 02:27 PM EDT
It's nonsense for O'Carroll to crow about "free speech" on Irish campuses. Try holding a meeting to call for an end to Mass Immigration, you'll be greeted by howls and yelps from all corners.

Report abuse Posted by PhoenixZouave on Jun 28, 2011, 10:18 AM EDT
What's the use of being in college, if you can't shake up the Establishment? When I was at Notre Dame, the bishop of South Bend was always trying to throw his weight around on campus. Nothing new here!

Report abuse Posted by mamaginnty on Jun 26, 2011, 10:52 AM EDT
Gearoid you mean the keys of authority that the Vatican has, Catholicism is definitly not the core element of Christianity, thats what Your.. bible is telling You.. to believe, If I said Allah be with you, what would you think or say?? I would like to know

Report abuse Posted by Gearoid4 on Jun 25, 2011, 11:38 PM EDT
Catholicism is the core element of Christianity, mama and it's legitimacy comes from the keys of authority explicitly given to Peter(Matthew 16:18) the first head of the Church that Christ founded.

Report abuse Posted by Kilbarry1 on Jun 25, 2011, 06:25 PM EDT
I recall the time of the Danish Cartoons controversy a few years ago when the Boston Globe refused to publish the Muhammad cartoons "out of respect for the feelings of Muslims". A number of readers pointed out that they had published photos of the "Piss Christ" exhibit no less than THREE times. The Globe Ombudsman replied that two wrongs don't make a right - something like that. ....... You could interpret that reply as a kind of belated apology to Catholics but I wouldn't bet on it. The hypocrites had to say something and that was the best they could manage!

Report abuse Posted by mamaginnty on Jun 25, 2011, 04:46 PM EDT
All this about catholicism, as if catholisism is thee one and only. It might turn your heads to read on internet, the "verbal attacks on islam by pope Benedict" and read "the differance between catholicism and christianity"

Report abuse Posted by jnewnam on Jun 25, 2011, 02:07 PM EDT
Medjugorje, anyone?

Report abuse Posted by Gearoid4 on Jun 25, 2011, 09:28 AM EDT
JessNiLeacai, Yeah, it is easy to jump on a bandwagon rather like this artist and her supporters. To paraphrase Voltaire, we can disagree totally with a viewpoint but defend the right of someone to say it in public. But that does not mean that there is an absence of boundaries regarding the right of expression. People should use that freedom honorably without a total denigration of the sacred beliefs or icons of others. Helmet, I must correct on your assertion that God has not manifested himself. If you were the owner of a bible you would read about numerous instances of God making his presence known. The Creator revealed himself to Moses at Mount Horeb(Exodus 3:2) in the form of a burning bush. The ultimate representation of God was Jesus Christ Himself who stated "..Jesus answered: "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'?..."(John 14:9).

Report abuse Posted by helmet365 on Jun 25, 2011, 08:42 AM EDT
There is no such thing as blasphemy. If a horse had a God it would be a horse. As horses cannot express who humans are we cannot express who God is. God has not manifested himself or herself to anyone or any religion on earth. The blasphemy only exists in the minds of followers of religion with their on going "my God is bigger than your God" theme.Follow the the sheep and you will be enslaved. Go for it UCC.

Report abuse Posted by CaptainCon on Jun 25, 2011, 08:35 AM EDT
Mental illness added to an inability to use a public library is now being touted as a way to live in society it seems. It is about time these loons were rounded up and put in a few re-opened Letterfracks where they can foam and sfuffle around on their knees all day long. Sick of these insane and deeply stupid social mullahs.

Report abuse Posted by katiemac on Jun 25, 2011, 08:03 AM EDT
Oh, so she is the 'well-known target of religious Catholic groups"? Is that versus non-religious Catholic groups? Isn't it more truthful to say, that, as an artist, she attacks Catholic sacred images as a protest for tenets of the faith with which she disagrees? Or perhaps she attacks Church teachings as a form of free advertisement, since she knows she will get a rise out of Catholics. I am always amazed at what passes for art these days. Lots of excrement, ants and poor taste in my eyes.

Report abuse Posted by mecca87 on Jun 25, 2011, 08:00 AM EDT
art is art, we have in the past in ireland anyway been to quick to condem artists remember joyce. i am 100% anti-blasphemous prob more for islams sake but then every religion should have the same respect, but if its not an attack on religion or intended as an insult then art shouldnt have to suffer.

Report abuse Posted by CaptainCon on Jun 25, 2011, 01:42 AM EDT
Stuff the Bishop of Cork and Ross. What gives that arrogant man the idea that he can restrict any exhibition? UCC should and I believe are quite right to ignore this nonsensical mullah.

Report abuse Posted by ciarrai on Jun 24, 2011, 11:14 PM EDT
This is a crappy thing to make public. However, this can't lay a glove on Almighty God and, lest we forget, that same Almighty God made this "artist" and loves her the same as the rest of us. Life is funny and people have the right to make mistakes and learn from them. Catholics ought to be proud that we have the tolerance and forbearance which allows us to not seek to kill "the artist" as would happen if it were Allah or Muhammed and we were Muslims. Just a quick reaction.

Posted by JessNiLeacai on Jun 24, 2011, 08:56 PM EDT
My comment was never posted so I will repost and with a different comment but same viewpoint. It is easy to jump on the bandwagon and shout anti Catholicism. Gearoid4, regardless of the Catholic Church's view on marriage, it is still slander. Just because someone wears a robe and calls themselves a person of God does not give them liberty to judge others as I understand that the belief of the Christian Bible is to love thy neighbour and judge lest thou be judged. Turn the other cheek in other words. But how often have I come across people who call themselves Christians or religious and say their God is a loving God and yet they spout out so much HATE, words leave me. I will not justify intolerance to others, I will not agree with taking liberties and denying people the right to live in harmony and love each other as they should rightly be able to do so. You confuse the fact that you may not agree with how they live/what the Bible says with the laws of the American Constitution. It says that no man should be denied the right to liberty and freedom. “Achieve Equality, Opportunity and Justice for All – this is a Human Right". So to deny such things is to go against what America was founded on and the modern day principles of every society in every country.

Report abuse Posted by Gearoid4 on Jun 24, 2011, 08:16 PM EDT
The Archbishop is not stigmatizing anyone but just re-iterating the definition of marriage as understood by the Catholic Church as based on the bible. This is held sincerely by other Christian churches and non-Christian bodies. There is no malice in any of the Archbishop's words but they may just be too inconvenient for some. Stigmatization of the groups that you have mentioned is caused by hate organizations who deliberately target them. Please do not confuse the Archbishop's words with their's as there is absolutely no similarity between them. Lopez's painting is just another crass insult to the core beliefs of Catholics. They will taken it on the chin, will state their objections but no violence will ensue. The defenders of such art try to discover some profound, overt meaning behind it but the discerning will recognize it as a commercial, cynical attempt to get notoriety as well as well as depicting an iconic image of Christianity in a prurient fashion.

Report abuse Posted by jflanagan on Jun 24, 2011, 07:39 PM EDT
I get the impression this is an untalented artist with a need to offend people in order to get attention. She hasn't shot anyone, so I'm not happy with her but I don't have any animosity toward her. A sense of pity I guess.

Report abuse Posted by eiriamach on Jun 24, 2011, 06:21 PM EDT
Gearoid4, If I thought that a public display of Lopez's painting could nurture an atmosphere of bigotry against any group of people or contribute to the guilt and shame which have driven some teens to suicide, then I would sign the petition to close down the art exhibition. Lopez's freedom of expression would not be worth the price of others' suffering. But Lopez's painting has not done that kind of harm, while Dolan's rhetoric is doing that kind of harm. Do I sound insensitive toward offended Catholics? It's a question of the price I would like us all to be willing to pay for the freedoms we enjoy. I know that members of the groups (LGBTs) that Dolan is trying to deprive of equality and freedom have paid the price of tolerating insults, hate speech, hate crimes, bullying of their children, financial disadvantages with regard to insurance and survivors' benefits, adoption, child custody-- oh, this list could grow very long. And Dolan's politics would keep them disadvantaged in these ways and socially stigmatized too. There is a difference between the offense people find in Lopez's art and the kind of harm that Dolan's anti-gay rhetoric causes. And none the less, I have not tried to censor Dolan or to shut down the USCCB. I simply exercise my freedom to criticize his politics and to support marriage equality. That's how freedom works, and as the LGBTs know, it's worth putting up with insults to gain full, equal civil liberties.

Report abuse Posted by seanomelbourne on Jun 24, 2011, 05:54 PM EDT
The artist seem to be making an anti religious statement.A fine piece of art work and worthy of display.

Report abuse Posted by Gearoid4 on Jun 24, 2011, 05:10 PM EDT
I suppose you see this exhibit from a 'freedom of expression' viewpoint without questioning too much the apparently offensive nature of it to many. You don't give the same benefit of doubt to Archbishop Dolan who was merely exercising his freedom of expression on matters which seem to raise your ire against him. I don't think that it is too far off the truth to venture the opinion that the author of this exhibition was motivated to a great extent by self-interest. I am not saying that this was the only factor but was it's presence cannot really be denied.

Report abuse Posted by eiriamach on Jun 24, 2011, 04:20 PM EDT
Gearoid4, in 1992, when Sinead O'Connor ripped up a photo of the pope on SNL to focus public attention on the Vatican's indifference to child abuse, the media and Catholics around the globe vilified her. Now everyone realizes that we should have paid attention, but most people refused to look beyond her insult to ask whether she identified a real problem While I cannot confidently interpret Alma Lopez's work, I am open to learning about it. This exhibit might be intended only to challenge Ireland's anti-blasphemy law, which deserves repeal. But whatever its goal, YOU do not know that it is a publicity stunt to make money for the artist, so why make that slanderous assertion? You're wrong also about me: I expressed sympathy for GeorgeD's feeling of insult. I know and understand that feeling. But I also know that art often presents an initial shock to our sensibilities before it reaches the cerebral cortex, so to speak, so I think we should give it a chance to "speak." And it is not AB Dolan's speaking his mind on marriage equality that disturbs me; it is his well publicized and expensive lobbying efforts against the NYS law, efforts which undermine our commitment to equality and tolerance, efforts which poison the environment in which gays and lesbians and youth and I have to live. So, yes, I use freedom of expression to oppose his efforts to preserve discrimination in our legal system.

Report abuse Posted by Woodman on Jun 24, 2011, 04:18 PM EDT
I don't think the so called "artist" here would get much attention if it weren't for his blasphemous content. If he had placed a Menorah or a Koran in a clear vat of urine,the response to such obvious disrespect might be different. Clearly, he has chosen a safe target

Report abuse Posted by sham1977 on Jun 24, 2011, 04:10 PM EDT
This s really bad - I would not like to have this on my record!! I can only imagine how hispanic catholics feel about it. I have to agree with Trealach - it goes far above insulting catholics, you are soiling the image of a divine being, the Blessed Mother should never be depicted in this way!!!

Report abuse Posted by Gearoid4 on Jun 24, 2011, 03:19 PM EDT
Eiriamach, I think that you know as well as everyone else who has eyes to see that the exhibit is mean't to be grossly offensive and provocative to garner a lot of publicity for the so-called 'artist'. You do not seem to have any sympathy for devoted believers who are shocked to see the Holy Mother of Our Saviour portrayed in such a degrading way. Yet you are up in arms when a bishop speaks his mind on issues like 'same sex marriage' or abortion.

Report abuse Posted by AngelPrecious on Jun 24, 2011, 03:06 PM EDT
John, I sure wouldn't either! I love the Blessed Mother and those whom mock her in any manner, even here, may answer for it someday!

Report abuse Posted by John G. Hogan on Jun 24, 2011, 01:58 PM EDT
I would not want this on my resume' come Judgement Day. His mother is to be revered, not ridiculed. And you know she would not liked to be stoned to death if she was to do something similar about a certain other.

Report abuse Posted by odubslaine on Jun 24, 2011, 01:53 PM EDT
"It was life, but was it fair? It was free, but was it art?" FW, page 94, by JJ

Report abuse Posted by eiriamach on Jun 24, 2011, 01:50 PM EDT
Go ahead--boycott the exhibit, organize a protest, complain about it, and insult the artist. I have no problem with any of that, quite the contrary, as long as you're not trying to censor her work by shutting down the exhibit. I am curious, however, about what the artist intended to communicate in her painting, and I hope O'Carroll will report on the talk she is scheduled to give at the exhibit.

Report abuse Posted by oldboreen on Jun 24, 2011, 12:59 PM EDT
Catholics have the answer-simply boycott this rubbish!The whole point of it is to wind us up. We've already seen it on the web so let's be grown up about it..Give it a massive thumbs down by staying away. No doubt her fans may confidently look forward to ms Lopez's next 'work of art'- depicting Muhammed as a tanned semi-naked 'Baywatch' hunk riding his white horse to heaven? Oh,I forgot, not allowed.

Posted by sunspotter5 on Jun 24, 2011, 12:13 PM EDT
Religion bashing? Maybe. Why can't we ever see Muhammad in a bikini? Cowards.
Report abuse Posted by Philaromancatho on Jun 24, 2011, 11:32 AM EDT
eiriamach: you can dance around the truth all you want, I don't. This is a little like Bill Clinton's "it depends on what the meaning of is, is". No, the meaning of 'is' is explicit. No, the offensiveness of this painting 'is'. I'm afraid of little at this point of my life and I hope I inherited that from my Irish grandmother who immigrated to the USA at age 17 alone (how brave), set out to have a life and boyo did she ever.

Report abuse Posted by JackFknTwist on Jun 24, 2011, 11:21 AM EDT
Ha ha ha's really quite funny. I see all the old farts out with the same old religious blatherings....... "And that's funny too.......Chim, chimmney...."

Report abuse Posted by bronxjames on Jun 24, 2011, 11:16 AM EDT
Good looking babe.......anyone have her number?

Report abuse Posted by JimmieM on Jun 24, 2011, 10:47 AM EDT
This kind of stuff is just stupid pretending to be "art" it is more like a mob standing on the corner taunting passerby's ...Ha Ha look a fattie...Ha Ha look a criple...Hay good looking why don't you show us your boobs....simple little ugly creeps protected by numbers. There is no value at all in this but to taunt those who Will Not harm you for it.

Report abuse Posted by Trealach on Jun 24, 2011, 10:20 AM EDT
You're all on the wrong religious bashing track if you think that this has anything to do with the Catholic Church - it hasn't. This Blasphemy is Bigger than the church. The blasphemous depiction insults the Mother of Christ. I wonder how smart assed you'd be if your mother was displayed publicly in such a demeaning manner. So save your pathetic church bashing for another post.

Report abuse Posted by eiriamach on Jun 24, 2011, 01:11 AM EDT
I trust that Phila romancatholic can whip up the offensiveness of this painting to the point that people will be more afraid to ask what it means than they'd be to meet with the Archdruid Lilliandris in a Tasmanian fen.

Report abuse Posted by Philaromancatho on Jun 23, 2011, 09:32 PM EDT
Oh, please, you insufferable snobs, this is not art on any level. It is intended as a mock, pure and simple. Get over yourselves.

Report abuse Posted by mamaginnty on Jun 23, 2011, 04:41 PM EDT
I agree in part with eiriamach about all the naked pics and statues in Rome and elsewhere. I do also remember having pics of Adam and Eve pushed into our face by clergy during religious hour at school, Adam using one fig leaf, Eve using three, why did they choose to show women naked like that. The pic above no comment one way or the other. GD, I am quite surprised you have not heard of Bishop k.Jeffert and you living in America.

Report abuse Posted by eiriamach on Jun 23, 2011, 04:05 PM EDT
The Catholics I quoted below insult KJ Schori for no other reason than that she is female and the highest-ranking Episcopal bishop in the US. She is the American Anglican primate and the equal of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, whom some IC poster recently called "the proddy pope." The insults I quoted are indicative of the pope's recent treatment of women (forbidding female altar servers at the EF, threatening women who seek RC ordination with excommunication, monitoring nuns for orthodoxy and living arrangements, publicly rejecting the work of female theologians like Sr. Johnson [the USSCB did that], returning to sexist language in the new English translation of the Roman Missal, etc.). When the pope denigrates women, some Catholics think insulting women is the thing to do. IF the artist Alma Lopez is motivated by such events to shock viewers with an ostentatiously female depiction of the apparition at Guadalupe, then I can appreciate her work. But far more important, I support her right to express her vision, just as I support the right of the Catholic bloggers I quoted to excoriate the American Anglican primate. Patella reflex censorship = tyranny.

Report abuse Posted by GeorgeDillon on Jun 23, 2011, 03:42 PM EDT
Eiriamach: You're the only person on this site who has ever heard of Katharine Jefferts Schor. Who is she? On second thoughts, don't bother explaining, I'm not interested.

Report abuse Posted by eiriamach on Jun 23, 2011, 03:27 PM EDT
GeorgeD, I cannot see into the mind of the artist (notice the words "doubt" and "probably" in my posting), so I do not know whether the insult is intended by the artist or perceived by the viewer of the artwork. Because I interpret the painting in the way I explained below, I'm not insulted by it. But if you think I should retract the word "imagined," OK, I retract it. Now I have just a little more to say about insults. I've drawn the following quotations quickly from 2 Catholic blog sites. My point, again, is that we should all think twice before calling for censorship when we feel insulted: "Katharine Jefferts Schori is the Jezebel who heads the Episcopal Church, now in its death rattle, who knows heresy alright; but not the way she thinks." "According to the bishop-ess, 'That individualist focus is a form of idolatry, for it puts me and my words in the place that only God can occupy.' Say what . . . ?" "[T]his woman is not—is not—an agent, or representative, of the Jesus Christ [in Scripture]. She is- she has become, an agent of Satan… That means the Episcopal Church USA—literally—is under the direction, and control, of the woman who is an agent of the Devil." "I really feel bad for you Anglicans having to put up with heretics such as Ms. Katharine Jefferts-Schori." "Jesus didn't call women to be apostles or to be shepherds. HE prayed alone, sought one-one relationship with HIS father... I see the devil in action with this woman's words."

Report abuse Posted by GeorgeDillon on Jun 23, 2011, 03:06 PM EDT
eiriamach: "I do not intend to debate whether the insult is real or imagined." So why the hell did you say a few posts earlier that it was imagined? Make up your mind. And apologize now and retract your imbecilic comment.

Report abuse Posted by eiriamach on Jun 23, 2011, 02:49 PM EDT
GeorgeDillon, I do not intend to debate whether the insult is real or imagined. I believe in artists' having the freedom to express their visions. You will probably never encounter a more committed advocate for freedom of expression than me. Even if all Catholics were to take the artwork as an insult, I would still argue for the right of the artist to express her view. Feeling insulted by what someone says, writes, or presents in a work of art is never in itself a good enough reason for censorship. No doubt some Catholics were insulted when Dante Aligheri wrote about the popes he met on his imagined trip through "The Inferno" (Hell), but it was important, for the sake of reform, for them to understand why Dante thought those popes belonged there. I sympathize with your feeling insulted. I've felt insulted by unflattering depictions of Katharine Jefferts Schori on the Internet. But when I thought through my feeling, I realized that they insulted her only to lash out at a Church that has the "arrogance" to ordain women and to raise them to the episcopacy. Similarly, I doubt that Alma Lopez meant to insult Our Lady of Guadalupe; she probably meant to direct the attention of the viewer to the Roman Catholic Church's treatment of women.

Report abuse Posted by murphy66 on Jun 23, 2011, 02:46 PM EDT
Jesus does not take kindly to those who denigrate the Blessed Mother. That's ONE sin you don't want on your resume.

Posted by Philaromancatho on Jun 23, 2011, 02:27 PM EDT
eiriamach There is nothing imagined here. The insult is perfectly clear. The image is a direct distortion of the image the BLESSED Mother left the Mexican indigenous people and is displayed in the cathedral in Mexico City. It is crude and vainglorious. It is evil in it's mocking display. It's contradictory in it's message, since the Roman Catholic church is continually ridicule in this country for it's work with Illegal Mexicans. But,of course, these days, it was probably some Jesuit who has forgone his following of Jesus Christ for liberation theology (Marxism as called out by John Paul II and Benedict), who encouraged her to do it.

Report abuse Posted by suzandpej on Jun 23, 2011, 10:28 AM EDT
Not Catholic and I am completely horrified that this garbage is allowed to be shown. This is disrespectful. But I believe in Karma...she's got something coming her way for purposely making people angry.

Report abuse Posted by GeorgeDillon on Jun 23, 2011, 10:04 AM EDT
eiriamach: "When Catholics cannot take an imagined "insult":--Are you a Catholic? No? So how the hell do you have the arrogance of telling us it's an "imagined" insult. How dare you claim that I as a Catholics "imagine" that this garbage is offensive. Wouldn't it be minimal courtesy (maybe I'm asking too much from you) for you to ask Catholics on this site whether or not they find this thing offensive before you tell us we are just imagining it?

Report abuse Posted by eiriamach on Jun 23, 2011, 08:43 AM EDT
I have not toured the Vatican Museum, but I am sure that if I did such a tour, I'd see plenty of fully naked bodies, male and female, in paintings and sculpture. There is more sexually explicit art on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel than in the artwork above. The artist seems to be making the point that in practicing religion, we channel or sublimate some of our erotic energies into socially acceptable practices such as prayer, adoration, and living the Christian life. This message is hardly new, but we should probably think about it once in a while and assess whether a particular religion does channel human energies toward doing good in this world. As for signing a petition against the display of this artwork, consider what is at stake! When you sign, you strengthen the power of an institution to censor and to exclude anyone for any behavior it dislikes. When Catholics cannot take an imagined "insult" and need to retaliate with censorship, watch out! You may be their next target.