Sunday, February 7, 2010

Is it art or is going too far?

There is a fine line defining what is considered art. Usually art that comes close to the defining line are highly controversial. In this cartoon the Koran and the Holy Bible are in toilets. Putting a Koran in the toilet is unheard of, and, according to this cartoon and to the US law enforcement, is a hate crime. In fact a man in 2007 was arrested for putting a Koran in the toilet in Manhattan. The Holy Bible is in the same situation but in this circumstance it is art instead of being highly offensive. Both are a controversial statement about religion, but only one is considered art.

There have been many times that the Bible has been a negative subject in art. For example, here is Piss Christ. This photograph, taken by Andres Serrano, depicts a small plastic crucifix submerged in a glass of the artist's urine. It was highly controversial when this piece was exhibited due to the fact that the government had funded it. I am sure it is still highly controversial considering I have had heated discussions with religious fanatics about this photograph. But it was never considered a hate crime against the Christians.

But why is the Koran so controversial? What makes a crucifix in piss art and a Koran in the toilet a hate crime? It doesn't make sense as to why its okay to make a statement about one religion and cannot do the same with another. In no way are Muslims being directly effected when their holy book is in a toilet, except for their religious pride.


  1. Well, art has always tested it's boundaries on how far it can go in society, vulgarity and offensiveness. I would never make this type of art, but I almost glad that some people do. I feel it runs along the same lines as the freedom of speech clause in the constitution or Voltaire's famous quote : " I don't agree with a word you say but I will defend to death your right to say it." This kind of art may be offensive but it causes other people to be bold. Their are always issues in society that need to be questioned, censured and exposed. How will the artist do this if they are hesitant to offend, or anger a group of people.
    I see what your saying about the koran and the bible, but unfortunately it seems that people are more sensitive to a group that has experienced hate or prejudice in their nations the past... or to groups that are not part mainstream culture ( when America was colonized it was primarily christian). For instance, someone may be more hesitant to fire an African American and replace their position with a Caucasian than vise versa because our nations history of slavery, segregation and prejudice against that particular group of people.

  2. Sometimes I like art that offends or rather creates a stir. I feel that art has this kind of duty. I have been a Christian all my life and yes some "religious" art can be offensive and seen as uncalled for. However as Zelda was saying about the freedom of speech I also feel that art such as this allows people to be bold. I like art that pushes me to stand up for what I believe in. I may not like that it is against what I believe, but it gives me a chance to speak up. Even in our critiques I would much rather be totally bothered or moved by a piece than have no reaction at all. It is pieces like these which pushes change and progression. Throwing a virtual stick in the waters of our culture to find its depth.

  3. I would say there is a bigger uproar about the Koran because most nations where Islam the dominant religon are governed by authoritarian and openly militaritic parties. These are nations that consider the western world to be trampling over their livlehood and are negative towards the European and American influence. These cultures right now are more reactionary and would censor this.

    Americans think this is weird or interesting because we aren't in a direct situation with these foreigners so we can't relate to their anger over the subject. And we are at war with Iraq and Afganhistan so it just seems like propaganda against their culture. It's all feedback internationally.

  4. What you post is true. But what art isnt controversial? As artists we can find ways to cause an uproar of some sort. Whether it be that colors are too sturated or too muted, that the perspective is off, or proportions are not consistant. This type of art is no different, it is all in the eyes of the beholder. Religious art has ALWAYS been made, its just now with such lag censorship anything can be considered art.

    Its all the same whether its the bible in the toilet, or the koran- it is only a personal testimony or opinion about the artists beliefs.