Censorship

The Second Coming of Chocolate Jesus and the Apparition of the Scratch-n-Sniff Virgin Mary

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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."

More, too much more, here.

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.

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  1. 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.

    These are some rather silly claims.

  2. Anyway, I remember the interview I saw with this fellow. His purpose did not seem to offend and I’m not quite sure why people would be offended anyway.

  3. I’m with Gunnels. I can see why Donohue is pissed off – he’s a hypersensitive paranoid with a persecution complex and a pathological need for attention. But the artist was likely just clueless. The piss-Christ guy was trying to be offensive. This guy was just being pretentious. The only reason that the chocolate part should offend anyone would be if they interpreted it as a suggestion that he was black, and were offended by the idea that Jesus could be associated with black people. Which would put you in both the racist and needing-to-get-over-yourself category.

  4. Oh, and also, by not showing the full-frontal shot of Chocojesus (it could only be tastier if you added bacon!) you yourself are just giving in to the islamofascists PC types who want to stifle free speech!

    Seriously, though, can we can it with the “You can’t make fun of Christianity because you have to make fun of Islam because they’re meaner” meme? In my every day life I could give a fuck about Islam. Christianity is way more relevant to my life.

  5. lunchstealer,

    Well, obviously how one judges art is subjective of course. As for Piss Christ it isn’t necessarily an offensive work; Sister wendy Beckett doesn’t apparently find it offensive: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1248/is_n7_v86/ai_21113230/pg_2

  6. I’ll say now what I said to my wife during season 2 of The L Word. No amount of softcore lesbian sex can draw me into an argument between two groups as wrongheaded as the Professionally Offended (Religious branch)and the Art Is Relevant douches.

    Wait… reason isn’t offering us softcore lesbian sex to entice us into this debate? Um, I gotta… work… or something.

  7. Offensive art and comedy is great. But you’re not brave unless you can face actual consequences for your actions, such as arrest (Lenny Bruce) or physical harm (Theo Van Gogh).

    Being backslapped by like-minded thinkers and receiving awards while having oversensitive non-violent jerkoffs complain is not brave. Sorry.

    Seriously, though, can we can it with the “You can’t make fun of Christianity because you have to make fun of Islam because they’re meaner” meme?

    Sure. The new meme is “don’t pretend you are brave for making fun of Christianity–but do it all you want. If you make fun of Islam, however, you might be getting there.”

  8. That is not Chocolate Jesus. It’s Chocolate Peter Stormare.

  9. Okay, I read the Suck article and I disagree with most of what is said about Dogma and Kevin Smith. First, I agree that the movie is heretical – it clearly disagrees with the teachings of the Catholic church. I don’t think it is truly Anti-Catholic though. Smith mocks some aspects of the Catholic church, but I don’t get the sense that he thinks it is completely useless. The heroine of the film has her faith shaken, but does not reject God(ess). Smith’s conception of God(ess) isn’t completely wacky – the voice of God says that God isn’t really a man or a woman, just God.
    I don’t want to spend too much time deconstructing the film because it’s tangential to the main discussion, but I don’t think it is fair to say “Smith’s own ostensibly earnest and pathetic-if-true posturing that the film is in fact “pro-Catholic” and “a love letter to both faith and God almighty.”

    Why is that pathetic if true? I can certainly see why many Catholics would be offended, but many Christians would not be. If you are a open-minded Christian, the movie is a “love-letter” to God almighty. The movie shows a merciful God(ess) who loves creation and the people in it.

    Maybe Kevin Smith did intend to create a work mocking Christianity. If he has said so in the time since the Suck article came out, please let me know. Even if that were the case, the finished product can be interpreted otherwise.

  10. I just want to know why the artist made Jesus look like George Carlin.

  11. There’s a difference between shock art that aims no higher than the shock, and shock art that uses the shock to accomplish something else.

    Even the Piss Christ piece – the crucifix was bathed in a golden light, and given the subject matter, on first blush, it appeared to be a highly respectful treatment of the divine. Then you see the title, and you realize how that effect was achieved. In my mind, that brought about thought about the relationship between the sacred, the vulgar, and our perception of them in modern media.

    By Nick’s logic, the effect of realizing how that golden glow was produced is to completely strip the work of any meaning except disgust and shock.

    That seems the work of a small mind without subtlety, which is not what I’d expect from him.

  12. If all someone wanted to do was offend Bill Donohue, they would have created a chocolate Priest Molesting Altar Boy.

    Or, following Legate Damar’s thread, chocolate Lesbian Softcore. That one could almost make me support the NEA.

  13. I wonder what Donohue would have to say about Big Butter Jesus?

  14. You decide. Chocolate Peter Stormare or Chocolate George Carlin?

  15. well, there is also something of value in merely “testing the waters” (not that I think this artist was doing that). Otherwise how does one know how much freedom one has?

  16. Come to think of it, what’s more annoying than pretentious, self-absorbed artists?

  17. Making art that offends Christianity is about as radical as driving around Austin or Portland with a “Bush Sucks” bumpersticker.

  18. neubauten
    (of the “Einst?rzende” variety?)

    you mean cuz it’s so easy?

  19. Come to think of it, what’s more annoying than pretentious, self-absorbed artists?

    The Catholic Defense League?

  20. 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.

    Clearly more annoying would be journalists that inappropriately lump art into the “meant to be disrespectful on its face” bin despite pretty clear statements by the artists to the contrary.

    From Kevin Smith, on the reaction to Dogma
    It was something of a surprise inasmuch as I was expecting a different kind of controversy. I thought people would see the film and say, what happened to the “Clerks” guy? He used to be funny. Now all he wants to do is talk about Jesus and church. I was expecting to have to deal with people who were shocked by how unflinchingly pro-faith the movie is — coming from a guy most people think of as the Dick and Fart joke guy.

  21. 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.

    I dunno, it appears that the Chocolate Jesus has succeeded as a work of art in a way that most other contemporary works do not. For example, the sculpture has obviously struck a chord with Mr. Gillepsie despite his pained disclaimers of how not-seriously he takes it.

    Perhaps a hallmark of good art is how many people go out of their way to disclaim it?

  22. Of course you’d think that, Dan. Replace “art” with “trolling”, and “disclaim” with “argue” in your last sentence.

    With my work, you don’t want it to melt…

    Seriously. The guy must use some kind of sealant. I have an artist friend who uses encaustic wax on his paintings, and he has to worry about the heat from lights. I can’t imagine what choc-o-savior guy has to go through.

  23. Perhaps a hallmark of good art trolling is how many people go out of their way to disclaim it?

    I would say that today’s “modern” artist is much more like Dan T. than they are like Michaelangelo.

  24. Of course you’d think that, Dan. Replace “art” with “trolling”, and “disclaim” with “argue” in your last sentence.

    Trolling is an art.


  25. The Catholic Defense League?

    They’re about equal to me, but your mileage may vary. Perhaps the Catholic Defense is simply more petty and childish.

  26. mmmm neubauten.

    i threw someone out of my room in college when i was playing strategies against architecture 2 and he asked “hey is this the soundtrack to stomp?”

    i have never been so angry.

    But you’re not brave unless you can face actual consequences for your actions, such as arrest (Lenny Bruce) or physical harm (Theo Van Gogh).

    i don’t get the whole bravery thing – it comes up in this context a lot – but different memes for different scenes.

  27. VM – “Piss Pferd” instead of “Piss Christ”

  28. Seriously, if it weren’t made of chocolate, but of a bronze with a dark finish to achieve the same color, would anybody think twice about whether it was a serious sculpture? If you look at the whole thing without thinking of its chocolateness or jesusness, it’s kinda reminiscent of a Rodin. It’s a pretty good sculpture, regardless of any religious significance (not great, but certainly not inherently offensive). Certainly this can’t be the first anatomically correct Jesus, can it?

    So to all you people saying that this is offensive, or that this isn’t brave because it’s offending the wrong people, or not offensive enough, or whatever, lighten the fuck up. This isn’t supposed to be brave, it’s not supposed to be offensive, it’s just supposed to be a relatively obscure bit of art which maybe comments on American culture. It’d be completely mundane art if it weren’t chocolate. Since it’s chocolate, it’s mundane art that happens to point out that some Americans place more weight on chocolate and painted eggs than Jesus on Easter, which is hardly news nor in any way offensive or brave. Its mundane and maybe slightly clever. This is the sculpture equivalent of a New Yorker cartoon.

    And really New Yorker cartoons are only even interesting (much less good) if you write your own caption.

  29. If I remember correctly, the artist has done numerous previous works in chocolate, and that is his favorite medium. Not really any deep reason for it.

  30. Darryl Dawkins should have been the model.

    Kevin

  31. You know, Jesus and Mary are both praised in the Quran.

    Perhaps Donohue and the Islamists will unite and…

    Shit. Forget I ever mentioned that. Nope, no Jesus in the Quran. Definitely not. You hear that Bill? You have nothing in common with those guys. Nothing whatsoever. Stay far, far away from them.

  32. i threw someone out of my room in college when i was playing strategies against architecture 2 and he asked “hey is this the soundtrack to stomp?”

    Or this one – “Godflesh? Yeah, I love Voodoo

  33. It’s just too hard to care about this stuff.

    [I suspect nobody would have made a peep if the traditional loincloth had been in place]

  34. i threw someone out of my room in college when i was playing strategies against architecture 2 and he asked “hey is this the soundtrack to stomp?”
    I hope you stomped him. Another good way to clear the room is to crank up Filth by the Swans.

    you mean cuz it’s so easy?
    Yes. When you ride around Austin and see a W ’04 sticker you get a sense of “ahhh a free thinker!” otherwise it’s an endless parade of “If you are not totally appalled then you haven’t been paying attention” and that stupid “Coexist” one as well.

  35. Go ‘way! Neubauten!

  36. Not meant as any endorsement of W on my part whatsoever, but just seeing such a rare, against the grain expression for simply the “change of pace” makes for something different to read while sitting in Austin’s horrendous traffic.

  37. Why is that pathetic if true? I can certainly see why many Catholics would be offended, but many Christians would not be.

    Hell, I was a devout Catholic when I saw it, and I wasn’t offended at all. The shots he takes at the church are all to say: “Take a look at your rituals, your tropes, your conventions. Do they still mean what they were supposed to mean? Do what they’re supposed to do? Or have they gotten muddled and corrupted, and you’re not willing to see it because you can’t stand to have anything criticized?” And also I think people were offended that God was juxtaposed with fart and poo jokes. Well, God invented farts and poo. I don’t think he cares that much.

  38. 1st Century mystery cults that have overstayed their welcome are just asking to be offended. As are 6th Century Arabian personality cults.

  39. “The desire to shock the middle class is itself middle class.” Too lazy to look up who said it.

    Overstayed their welcome according to whom, ChrisO? One of the big differences betwen the 1st century mystery cult and the 6th century personality cult, of course, is that adherents of the former need not fear for their lives if they change their minds, and adherence itself is entirely optional no matter where they live. I don’t get that offended at infantile artistic stunts; I do get offended when people try to equate Christianity’s current problems with Islam’s current problems, Christianity’s fundamentalists with Islam’s fundamentalists, Christianity’s effect on society with Islam’s effect on society. Telling someone that they’ll go to hell if they don’t agree with you is rude. Killing someone because they don’t agree with you is worse.

    Sorry, that last bit is OT, I know.

  40. That is not Chocolate Jesus. It’s Chocolate Peter Stormare.

    Hmm, you’re right. But I’m sticking by George Carlin ’cause I don’t know who the heck Peter Stormare is.

  41. 1st Century mystery cults that have overstayed their welcome are just asking to be offended.

    21st Century Sermon on the Mount:
    If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other cheek. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. If an artist offends your religion, give him a grant and ask him to make more offensive artwork

  42. dhex:

    only one way to deal with that type: FLYING OMOPLATA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Pisspferd? oh my! mercy! or for the SPD: Merkin-Merkel.

  43. I reported to some of you before that the glow in the dark, astronaut Jesus is all sold out, but it turns out that the astronaut Jesus in pink is still available!

  44. VM – I just remembered this album cover from my childhood.

    It appears someone doesn’t like Merkel, but they didn’t quite put her in the Merkin zone…

  45. Baked –

    great!

    And don’t forget Nick Cave and Die Haut’s “Dumb Europe” (“It’s fucking cold in Europe”). That would work, hier, too!

    Actually re: Merkel – that could be a mid flap merkin. Good for many situations. If your Noam Chomsky Blow Up doll is prone to exploding, such a protective device can spare you taintal injuries. Mr. Steven Crane can explain!

  46. But I’m sticking by George Carlin ’cause I don’t know who the heck Peter Stormare is.

    Click y-clicky for Peter Stormare’s best non-Cohen-brothers work.

  47. LUNCHSTEALER IS ZOG!!!!!

    UNPIMP ZEE AUTO!

  48. Click y-clicky for Peter Stormare’s best non-Cohen-brothers work.

    I take it all back. Peter Stormare is a comic genius. Who’s this George Carlin guy, again?

  49. “The desire to shock the middle class is itself middle class.” Too lazy to look up who said it.

    No argument there. Actually, “shock” art of any kind is lazy, since it evidences a lack of creativity and originality.

    Overstayed their welcome according to whom, ChrisO?

    Why, according to me, of course. 🙂

  50. ” The piss-Christ guy was trying to be offensive”

    Nah. At most, the name is offensive, yet accurate. If he’d named it something else, like ‘Christ in amber’, that image would probably get licensed for use on greeting cards sold in Christian bookstores.

    I suppose if he wanted to be uselessly offensive, he could have used apple juice in the photo and called it “piss christ”.

    I don’t really see the point in getting bent out of shape over Chris Ofili, either. He has a weird attachment to the use of poo as a medium, but he actually does something with the poo and uses it as a medium. In the picture of Mary, it’s made into little balls that are placed around the image. The dung is not used in a blunt “I’m pooing on the Virgin Mary” sense, he doesn’t just slap a steamer on the Virgin’s face.

    I’m sure renaissance artists used all manner of nasty materials to produce the media for their work. For instance, urine on metal sculpture to produce a patina.

  51. The Choco-Jesus is “kinda reminiscent of a Rodin.”

    Yes, they are both made up of molecules. And a destist wouldn’t recommend that you try to eat either one. I’m trying to think of other parallels.

    By the way, I’m doing an art project of my own, called “insult the atheists.” My artwork will consist of blog posts on the Web site of a leading libertarian magazine. If anyone is offended, I will simply say, “don’t get your panties in a bunch, it’s just art. I’m really trying to show *respect* for you people – why are you too friggin’ dumb to understand how much I respect you?”

  52. stubby wrote: “One of the big differences betwen the 1st century mystery cult and the 6th century personality cult, of course, is that adherents of the former need not fear for their lives if they change their minds, and adherence itself is entirely optional no matter where they live.”

    This is primarily because we took the damned levers of power out of the hands of the 1st century mystery cult after about 1700 years of exactly this kind of bullshit from them.

  53. “destist” should be “dentist”

  54. I’m still trying to figure out what’s so bad about chocolate as a medium. Would white chocolate have been better? The statue isn’t presented as a king-size snack item, with the head bitten off, or with a creamy filling.

    Would an ice Jesus be more acceptable? How about if it’s made out of lake water, which by its nature likely contains some excrement from the animals who live in it?

  55. “Actually, “shock” art of any kind is lazy, since it evidences a lack of creativity and originality.”

    The thing is, people have different levels of shockability.

    Just because something allegedly shocks a professional pearl-clutching victim like Bill Donohue, it doesn’t mean it’s actually “shock art”, or that it was intended as such. Among an artist’s peers and market, the work may be barely notable. Any sensationalism may be added only after the fact by the media and the professional victims like Donohue.

    I mean, hell, there are people who find Harry Potter shocking and objectionable. People complained about the nudity in Schindler’s List for pete’s sake. That doesn’t mean Spielberg’s motivation from the start was to offend some TV-watching pastor in Topeka.

  56. John H,

    Imagine the philistine “I don’t get it; they must be trying to put one over on me” reaction that most conservatives have to modern art, and add a healthy dose of religion-based persecution complex, throw in a twist of anatomoical accuracy, and you get Phil Donoghue’s reaction.

    I saw him try to express what he found offensive about the piece on cable nooz once. He couldn’t. It’s OBVIOUSLY meant as an affront to Catholics. It’s OBVIOUS. Come on, don’t give me that. It’s OBVIOUS.

    Even when the artist tried to explain what he was going for, Donoghue steamrolled him. He couldn’t explain what was wrong with the sculpture.

  57. What’d really be sacrilegious would be if the artist somehow found a Catholic priest to consecrate the chocolate body of Christ as the Body of Christ.

  58. Mad Max, you really should see the “Go God Go” episode of South Park. It may not quite insult all atheists, but it sure does a good job of nailing Dawkins. Too bad they couldn’t work in a reference to the ‘brights’.

  59. Oh, and really, how can you top the apotheosis of Dan T in terms of blog-related insultery?

  60. While it is not clear whether or not Chocolate Jesus has come again, it is perfectly clear from the scriptures themselves that the second coming has already ocurred:

    When ye therefore shall see abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand):-Matt 24:15
    And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
    And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other….
    …Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.”-Matt 24:30-34

    What Mark is unable to tell us Matthew elaborates on which indicates that Matthew was written after the fall of Jerusalem while Mark was written before. To learn more about how the Romans usurped the scriptures of Yeshu and the original Nazorean sect and proclaimed them the revelations of the godman Jesus Christ visit: http://www.nazoreans.com

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