Is Piss Christ offensive for the sake of being offensive?
Raised as a Catholic Andres Serrano wanted to express his personal relationship with faith through “Piss Christ” which is part of the immersion series made in 1987, the photo shows a 13 inch plastic and wood crucifix in a pool of the artists urine. Serrano’s pictures are seductive and aesthetically pleasing, combining the large scale and saturated colour creates a glorious impact, however the materials used to create the image is what transforms the reading into something offensive or provocative.
The golden yellow tones symbolise royalty and dignity, however the urine could be seen as if its stripping Christ of any dignity. Alongside with the deep red tones which could symbolise the bloodshed and the love that he had, willingly shedding blood for our sins. the suffering is highlighted through the beam of light shining through the urine. Material wise, the image overall suggests the mass production of religious symbols, (the cheapening of the cross by using plastic) have been ” partly responsible for the trivialization and exploitation of both religion and art”(1)
This piece of art is a satire against the way religion is portrayed, it looks at the commercialisation of Christianity and misuse of religion which has been taken out of context by most people, this could or could not be blasphemous however it is up to the viewer to choose what to make of this, in a way this piece should give people a deeper desire to worship from the suggestion that the world is doing this to Christ. In a simplistic way, Serrano tried to expose that this is what we are doing to Christ, we are not treating him with respect.
Serrano also spoke put about the crucifix being treated “like a fashion accessory” and how the symbol has slowly lost its meaning (2) he highlights the lack of response we have to the torture, humiliation crucifixion of a man. “for Christ to have been crucified and laid on the cross for three days where he not only bled to death, he shat himself and he peed himself to death. so if Piss Christ upsets you , maybe it’s a good thing to think about what happened on the cross” (2)