Bin Laden art 'not offensive' - The Daily Telegraph,UK
By Elizabeth Fortescue and Heath Aston
August 30, 2007 03:००प्म्
THE artist behind a highly controversial artwork showing a holographic image of Osama bin Laden that morphs into Jesus Christ has claimed she did not mean to be offensive - but readers and leaders are furious.
Labor Leader Kevin Rudd this afternoon backed Prime Minister John Howard's condemnation of the piece and an equally controversial entry in the Blake Prize - Australia's top religious art competition.
Mr Rudd said the painting depicting Jesus and bin Laden is "off in the extreme".
"I accept you know people can have artistic freedom, but I find this painting off, off in the extreme," he added. "I understand how people would be offended by it."
Meanwhile the majority of readers in our poll - follow the link below right - and in our feedback forum below are also disgusted by the bin Laden holograph and a statue of the Virgin Mary shrouded by a Muslim burqa.
Mr Howard said the pieces were insulting and lacked any artistic merit.
"The choice of such artwork is gratuitously offensive to the religious beliefs of many Australians," he said.
He was backed by Premier Morris Iemma, who said the inclusion of the artworks was extremely questionable.
"I haven't seen either of these pieces but from what has been described to me, it's a pity they were not stolen instead of the Dutch masterpiece," Mr Iemma said, referring to the recent theft of a painting from the Art Gallery of NSW.
The artworks are the latest in a string of offensive pieces that have infuriated Christians while their creators hide behind the veil of "art".
However bin Laden artist Priscilla Bracks denied she had deliberately set out to be offensive.
"Absolutely not, no, no. I am not interested in being offensive. I am 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,'' she said.
Read more of her comments this morning by clicking here.
Last night Queensland lawyer Ms Bracks told The Daily Telegraph her double portrait was not meant to compare Jesus with bin Laden, but was a commentary on the way the terror leader was treated in the media.
She was concerned bin Laden would be unintentionally glorified in years to come.
Describing him as a "common criminal", Ms Bracks made the bizarre assertion bin Laden - whose whereabouts are unknown - should be extradited and put on trial.
Sydney artist Luke Sullivan, who created the Virgin Mary piece entitled The Fourth Secret of Fatima, said his work was not meant to be controversial but provocative.
"It poses the question of what's the future of religion," Sullivan said. "They (religions) are hegemonic in their nature. They can be all-encompassing and powerful."
Joining Mr Howard and Mr Iemma in condemning the art was the Australian Christian Lobby, which said placing Jesus in the same piece as Osama bin Laden was "a big mistake".
"Jesus brought a message of love and forgiveness that has nothing to do with terrorism," ACL spokeswoman Glynis Quinlan said. "It's a concerning thing to Christians to have Jesus and Osama bin Laden as part of the one artwork.
"If the artist is trying to portray any similarity, that is a big mistake."
Ms Quinlan questioned whether the artists would have been so bold in using icons of Islam.
The Uniting Church minister who chairs the Blake Society last night defended the pieces.
Reverend Rod Pattenden, who awarded the $15,000 prize to the competition winner in Sydney yesterday, said his mission was to spark debate about spirituality in a world that was "cynical, degraded and in crisis".
Mr Pattenden said he did not expect controversy to result from the exhibition "because the Christian community doesn't look at art a great deal".
He said the Virgin statue embodied "iconic representations of two different religious traditions". "He (Sullivan) is making a comment about gender in a religion dominated by men," Mr Pattenden said.
'offensive' ... the Virgin mary wearing a burqa and (inset bottom) a
holograph of Osama bin Laden that morphs into Jesus (top)