31.3.07

No Chocolate Jesus for the Public

Mary Altaffer/AP)

The recent controversy over whether "the chocolate Jesus" will be exhibited in New York is now over. It has been decided that, no, it will not be shown due to an overwhelming response against it. I've been mulling it over and as a Christian, I think it's actually a shame no one will be able to see the display. The sculpture portrays a naked Jesus, arms spread out as if he were on a cross and made entirely out of chocolate.

Now before you rush to condemn the sculpture (as so many have already done) we should really take a moment to consider the message behind it. I actually think it's an intelligent work of art that makes a powerful statement on contemporary North American Christians' faith. Let me explain.

Holy Week is the most important period for Christianity and it begins tomorrow on Palm Sunday and continues until Easter Sunday next week. That being said, what do we see all around us? Chocolate bunnies, marshmallow chicks, sugary eggs, etc. I've seen chocolate crosses too and I remember Maryn telling me that someone once offered her a bag of chocolate Jesus' in France. For many, then, Easter is not only a religious holiday but a time to gorge on candies. By sculpting a Jesus made of chocolate, stripped down and exposed to the masses, the artist, I believe, makes Christians face consumerism and their faith in a way that, unfortunately, many aren't ready to deal with yet.

I don't particularly like going into 'shoulds' because who am I to define something as all-encompassing as art but I may have to here for the sake of making a point. Good art shouldn't have to be aesthetically beautiful but should make us uncomfortable, break down conventions, and make us reconsider the world around us. Sadly, artistic freedom has once again been sacrificed for political correctness and the fear of offending others.

Read an interesting and enlightening opinion piece on the chocolate Jesus written by David Kuo.

2 comments:

Laura® said...

I don't think it's up to censors to decide what the public can or cannot see. Put it up in a museum, and let us decide whether or not we want to waste our time with the exhibit. This just proves, once again, that there isn't really a separation between church and state--an idea the U.S. is supposedly founded upon, and and ideal it desperately needs to stop paying lip service to and actually start enforcing so that crazy zealots like George Dubya can't say things like "I talk to God" and still legitimately lead our country. Man, I hate it when exhibits get shut down because somebody, somewhere, objects to them on "religious" grounds. Art is irreligious, or should be.

Greg Santos said...

Thanks for the comment, Laura. Censorship seriously pisses me off and I agree with you whole(black)heartedly. Forgive the pun but I couldn't resist.