30 Aug 2007

Osama-and-Jesus As Art

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In Australia, in 1950, a Jesuit priest, a Roman Catholic lawyer, and a Jewish businessman formed a society which would award an annual prize intended to stimulate the production of “significant works of art with religious content.” They named their society and prize after the visionary English poet William Blake.

The Blake Prize For Religious Art was increased to $15,000 in 2005.

56 annual competitions later, the state of the contemporary arts is such that an artist named Priscilla Bracks submitted a lenticular image, titled Bearded Orientals: Making the Empire Cross, in which a picture of Jesus morphs into an image of Osama bin Laden.

Another artist, Luke Sullivan, submitted a statue of the Virgin Mary wearing a blue burqa, titled The Fourth Secret of Fatima.

Though these particular entries did not win, they were both included in the selection exhibited at the National Art School in Sydney, provoking some not-undeserved indignation on the part of the Australian public, and condemnation by both Prime Minister John Howard and Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd.

Ms. Bracks was sufficiently intimidated by all the negative reaction that she posted on her web-site a rather disingenuous statement proposing the implausible thesis that her “artwork” is open to all sorts of interpretations (beyond mere blasphemy), and was really intended by herself as a kind of protest against publicizing crime and violence. Right.

Obviously this sort of thing ought to have been excluded from any serious art exhibition, not because it was offensive, but because it was puerile and amounted only to a crude and simplistic expression of a particularly muddle-headed version of the tritest and most banal kind of pseudo-intellectual political posturing.



Priscilla Bracks in an earlier, and more complacent, photo

3 Feedbacks on "Osama-and-Jesus As Art"

Dominique R. Poirier

Whichever are the pretexts and justifications put forward about this picture by Priscilla Bracks, its “author,” all the others in display on her website unmistakably translate a personal political commitment using pictorial art as a mere pretext. For, they all follow the aforesaid trend.

As a professional in communication, advertising and media with more than 15 years of experiences I can testify that there is no particular creativity or expression of talent in these pictures for the following reasons.

It’s just mere plagiarism! For, the style of Priscilla Bracks is nothing but the mere and obvious mix of the works of three famed artists I name below.

To a large measure: Pierre et Gilles, a team of two reputed French photographs whose works often features images from popular culture, gay culture including porn (especially James Bidgood), and religion.
See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierre_et_Gilles
And the website of these two photographs: http://www.optimistique.com/pierre.et.gilles/

To a lesser measure: Roy Lichtenstein, a prominent American pop artist, whose work borrowed heavily from popular advertising and comic book styles, which he himself described as being “as artificial as possible”.
And the website of the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation: http://www.lichtensteinfoundation.org/frames.htm

These artists are well known and popular in the realm of advertising and they did and still do constitute a source of inspiration for many art directors; but no one in this latter profession would dare plagiarize the works of these artists as obviously as Priscilla Bracks did. For, those artits are too well known in the realm of communication, and a creative director would not let show such montages to a customer as the expression of the pure creation of any advertising agency.

All this makes Priscilla Bracks hardly more than a political activist who sized the opportunity of her skills in photoretouching and photomontage. Isn’t that an excellent example of what some calls anti-American propaganda?

Artists from Week 2: Priscilla Bracks « Digital Photography

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Week #02 | Saritkhun's Journeys


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