When we last checked in with Chocolate Jesus, the anatomically-correct-melt-in-your-mouth-not in-your-soul faux icon was being declaimed by protector of the faith and head of the Catholic Leauge Bill Donohue and deposed from its resting place in New York's Roger Smith Hotel. The verdict? "What's more tedious than a Bill Donohue good-times rant [about how anti-Catholicism is the last remaining acceptable prejudice]?…objets d'art whose only possible function is to piss off the likes of Bill Donohue."
Now Chocolate Jesus is back, reports Newsday:
The life-sized sculpture will be included as part of the "Chocolate Saints, Sweet Jesus" show at the Proposition Gallery in Chelsea timed to coincide with All Saints Day on Nov. 1. The show also will feature eight chocolate sculptures of Catholic saints.
What's bringing the outrage this time? The invitation to the party:
The art space is expected to mail invitations next week featuring a "scratch n' sniff" on the breasts of a likeness of the Virgin Mary.
Oy. But there's a twist here. Actually, two. The first is that the Catholic League is not protesting this time:
The league, [a spokesperson] said, would not protest this exhibit because "it's going to be limited to galleries and people who expect and like that sort of thing. We don't approve of it, but it's a far cry from what we had last spring," with such a public display [timed for the Easter holiday].
The second twist? The artist says that he means no disrespect to the Son of Man (plain or peanut), except maybe to the makers of Hershey's:
Cosimo Cavallaro, the Canadian-born artist, did not want to reveal where the sculpture has been stored because of threats, said it had to be repaired after mice gnawed at its fingers, toes, and nose.
He also insisted he's not trying to be sensational.
"As an artist I try to be honest with myself," he said. "When I wake up in the morning everything relates to food. I accepted the world of food and ever since then I've been a lot freer."
He also hopes that portraying an anatomically-correct, chocolate Jesus calls people's attention to the fragility of life and the lived experience of Christ.
"Depictions of Jesus in plastic or wood are what I find offensive," he said. "With my work, you don't want it to melt, so you have to be more aware of the time you have with it. It's more alive."
So what's more annoying than objets d'art whose only possible function is to piss off the likes of Bill Donohue? Artists who insist that no, really, I don't mean disrespect when the only possible reason to look at something is because of its self-evidently disrespectful nature.
Back in the day at Suck, I plumbed the depths of this bogus stance as it related to Kevin Smith and Dogma, Chris Ofili's dung-clad Virgin Mary, and a few other examples that seem kind of besides the point in an America where the bestseller list seems positvely dominated by God Is a Douche-type titles.
More to the point, Chocolate Jesus-type stunts seem especially pointless and trivial in the wake of the murder of Theo van Gogh, the Danish cartoon controversy, and other moments where self-expression is fully under attack. I'm glad that we live in a world where Chocolate Jesus can exist and even the Catholic League won't attack it' I'll defend to my deatht the right of nimrods to think they are tweaking the booboisie. But the silliness of it and the pretensions of the artist are at least a venial sin.