Art Upsets Politicians – again

A piece of art which depicts a bearded Osama bin Laden transforming into a bearded Jesus Christ has upset two formidable art critics – the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader.

John Howard and Kevin Rudd are quoted in News Limited newspapers this morning complaining about Bearded Orientals: Making the Empire Cross an entry for this year’s Blake Prize for Religious Art.

Once again politicians from both sides of the ideological  fence have made silly, superficial pronouncements on a subject which needs thought and reflection.

Queensland artist Priscilla Bracks explains why she created the bin Laden piece, a lenticular work which transforms from Jesus into Bin Laden as the viewer moves slightly.

“One of the things that I was thinking about was the glorification of Osama bin Laden which has been taking place. I mean, he’s seriously glorified in some parts of the world, where he’s revered for the things he’s done,” she said. “What I was thinking about was, ‘well what would happen to the stories about this man over thousands of years, and could that possibly lead to someone with a cult-like status?’.”

Bracks says the piece reflects on how historical figures can be portrayed over time. “There’s so many ways you can read that image,” she said. “You know, immediately people are seizing on what they see as the most controversial – that I’m comparing the two. But I could actually be saying that it’s a juxtaposition of good and evil, which I see as the base level reading of that work. But then on a more sophisticated level you could perhaps look at how it could be an image which is a cautionary tale, asking the question, ‘do we have to be a little bit more careful about what we focus on in the here and now’.”

Bracks says she did not set out to create a provocative piece.

“Absolutely not. No, no,” she said. “I’m not interested in being offensive. I’m interested in having a discussion and asking questions about how we think about our world and what we accept and what we don’t accept. I just ask people to think about it a little bit more deeply because it is a very loaded work, which means that there’s so many different meanings.”

The piece will be on display as part of an exhibition at the National Art School in Sydney.

12 responses to “Art Upsets Politicians – again

  1. (I’m afraid my response won’t be too PC)



  2. I’m a little more circumspect! Oh, for goodness’ sake!!! Tell the anally retentive and up-tight to keep their nose out of the world of art. If they don’t like it then don’t look at it!


  3. dorid, While I have severe problems with some schools of art, I need the thought-provoking type of book, music, verse or art. Politicians and other thought police should all butt right out!

    Buff, the fact that they don’t like it makes it even more important for them to be MADE to see it. It is, after all, about the choices THEY make and how those choices affect the rest of us. Now I’m starting to rant.


  4. I can believe that is very provoking to a lot of people. Even my sense of free speech is acting up.


  5. “Bracks says she did not set out to create a provocative piece”

    Methinks the Lady doth protest too much

    If she were not aware of the grievous offence which she would give to many Christian Folk, would she have come up with this tomfoolery (err …. in these enlightened times of PC, I meant Janefoolery, so please don’t arrest me) ?

    Would she have featured Mohammed instead of Jesus, because Muslims have been known to top Authors etc whom they don’t like

    Where does Art end and Nausea begin – are ordinary folk allowed a view or are we to abdicate this decision to Gnostic “Artists” however fatuous they may be

    and (forgive my vulgar curiosity) but wer bezahlt [who is paying the Lady for all this]

    G Eagle


  6. I have to say I think this works as art and social commentary very well. As I sat here trying to decide whether I liked it or not and why, I realized that this was the first time in long time that I had considered a work like this. For me this verifies its worth. Really interesting.


  7. Pingback: Strange World #2 - Drawing a Gun « Archies Archive

  8. artinthepicture, Think about your reasons for wanting to censor this artwork. Which combination of people would be acceptable to you? Why?

    Herr Gev eaGle, Being provocative is an important part of art, unless you consider the family portrait gallery in Windsor Castle to be the greatest art. To me the question which is raised is “Jesus was a rebel 2,000 years ago, Bin Laden is a rebel now. What will history make of Bin Laden in 2,000 years time?” It would have been equally valid to have Mohommad and Geo W Bush pictured together although that would not have been as effective a question in a Christian society. Oh, no one paid the lady. It was entered into a competition which she did not win.

    Ian, 🙂 I have succeeded. I have made one person think. Actually, I have made a number of people think and that cannot be a bad thing.


  9. Sehr geEhrter AerChie

    Harrumpho Harrumphae Harrumpho

    ScHocking – in Latin the Dative is steadily absorbing the Ablative (a just retribution for its SchWallowing the Instrumental & Locative)

    Where is your anti-Soviet Outrage at this ancient Lazy deGeneration of the World-Conquering original Romance Lingua

    Harrumpho Harrumpha Harrumpho

    There are Rebels … and rebels

    Jesus did NOT from a position of enormous Wealth & Privilege send his Young Followers on suicide mission to engage in long-planned, hatred-filled Mass Murder = Jesus did NOT then go on to Gloat over it, surrounded by his fellow-Murderers

    Yr obedt but curmudgeonly servant etc

    G Eagle


  10. Herr g eaGle, I am not a native speaker of the language of the Roman Invaders. So your harrmphii are being ignored! I shall, instead, invade your lands and burn your villa to the ground.
    As for the behaviour and morals of your Jesus (for each of us has a different) do you have first-hand knowledge of this person or do you rely upon the writings of others? Most of whom have relied on previous writings. The Bin Laden thought relates to how will he be remembered and written about in 2,000 years. Will he be a Jesus-like figure or an Herod-like figure? Not now, where we have actual first hand facts and knowledge, but after the passage of 2,000 years with its consequent and continual rewriting of history. While I may have an inclination to be anti-politbureau tendencies, I am a sympathetic person when it comes to Soviets and Communes.

    archie, Another curmudgeon but not so obedient..


  11. A

    Well retorted (or should that be contorted) !!!

    G E


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