Andres Serrano | Art and Design | News | Sweden | Vandalism

Vandals Document Destruction of Andres Serrano Exhibit

On Friday, four "Social Nationalists" in Sweden took it upon themselves to destroy works by Afro-Cuban artist Andres Serrano, the artist known for his controversial 1989 work "Piss Christ", because they deemed it degenerate. The works destroyed were part of an exhibition in Lund, Sweden, called "The History of Sex".

The vandalism was documented by the attackers and posted on the internet (above).

The NYT reports: "No guards were on duty in the gallery, said Viveca Ohlsson, the show’s curator, although security videos captured much of the incident. 'There was one woman who works at the gallery who tried to stop them until she saw the axes and crowbars,' Ms. Ohlsson said. 'These men are dangerous.' By the time the masked men had finished, half the show — seven 50-by-60-inch photographs, worth some $200,000 over all — had been destroyed. The men left behind leaflets reading, 'Against decadence and for a healthier culture.' The fliers listed no name or organization."

The vandals have not yet been apprehended. Police say they are likely neo-Nazis.

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  1. this very blog, you've previously celebrated people who vandalize other people's property under the pretense of 'art'. Let's just call this action 'art' as well, and then everybody's happy.

    Posted by: Art | Oct 9, 2007 1:39:52 PM

  2. As opposed to - say - just not going to the museum so as not to see the offending images.

    That is another essential element to freedom - to choose not to participate in what you find unseemly.

    Posted by: david | Oct 9, 2007 1:42:50 PM

  3. It would have been funnier if they had gone to the Tate Modern and filled in the crack in the floor.

    Posted by: Gregoire | Oct 9, 2007 1:52:36 PM

  4. ART, could you point me to the time when Towleroad "celebrated people who vandalized other people's property under the pretense of 'art'"?

    I'm a regular Towlie but I don't remember such an instance.

    I half expected to find people explaining that this is nothing more than a display of freedom of speech or freedom of religious expression that should be protected lest we get too PC or become a Big Brother police state.

    Posted by: Zeke | Oct 9, 2007 1:52:36 PM

  5. Every Banksy story.

    Posted by: Art | Oct 9, 2007 1:59:24 PM

  6. I am horrified. Andres Serrano is one of my favorite artists, both because his photography is as close to technically perfect as you can get, but also because his work creates strong emotions which I believe is the mark of great art. At the risk of trivializing this horrible, awful vandalism, I choose to look at this incident as proof of Serrano's success: he succeeded in creating overwhelmingly strong emotions. I only wish the museum had succeeding in protecting his work.

    Posted by: peterparker | Oct 9, 2007 2:22:36 PM

  7. Art (sic): Are you intentionally being obtuse? Please provide examples of Banksy destroying another person's original artwork.

    Posted by: Rey | Oct 9, 2007 2:29:03 PM

  8. This video chilled me because it seemed more a commercial for neo-naziism than an act of protest. My concern is for what actions this video will encourage.

    Posted by: Duh | Oct 9, 2007 2:32:33 PM

  9. It's like they say, just because it hangs in a gallery, it doesn't make it art. (Damien Hirst) I don't care for Serrano's work but that's no reason to destroy it. Then again unless the negative was destroyed, he can print out some more. It is photography.

    Posted by: Bud | Oct 9, 2007 2:41:08 PM

  10. Rey: Please read what I wrote. I said that he vandalizes other people's property. Perhaps the two situations aren't identical, but they have more in common than many people are willing to admit.

    Posted by: Art | Oct 9, 2007 2:50:16 PM

  11. I agree with PeterParker. I think Serrano, if he is as wise and self-actualized an artist as he appears, was much less upset by this action than the museum keepers and his fans. I believe he understands that as unfortunate and primitive as their protest was, the intensity of emotion the perpetrators displayed is proof that Serrano is a success as an artist. So to him I say, good work.

    Posted by: Jeff | Oct 9, 2007 3:15:47 PM

  12. That photography was crap, lazy, obvious, puerile, Z-grade Mapplethorpe. But it isn\\\\\\\'t fact, in its present state it comprises one of the most jarring and compelling statements against intolerance and hate that I could imagine.

    Like the Kaiser Wilhelm Church in Berlin or the Hiroshima memorial, they should leave this in the exact state it is in right now, including pieces laying on the floor. In this way, just like Dawn Davenport predicted so many years ago, crime becomes art.

    And in this case, much better art, at that.

    Posted by: Becks07 | Oct 9, 2007 3:24:33 PM

  13. Has any one considered that Serrano did this himself? He's a publicity whore after all. Has anyone even mentioned his name in years and here we are discussing him. Just sayin'.

    Posted by: Bill | Oct 9, 2007 4:06:26 PM

  14. @BILL: I had the same thought... can't wait to see, how quickly these prints valued at $200,000 will jump in value to $2,000,000... i'm sure they'll be sold as a set and be on display in dubai as a crime scene.

    Posted by: my2cents | Oct 9, 2007 7:03:31 PM

  15. BILL - I thought the same thing.

    What I do find odd is that YouTube is ok with hosting a video which clearly encourages criminal activity. Wouldn't this tip that fine line between free speech and criminal behavior?

    Posted by: Gregg | Oct 9, 2007 7:15:37 PM

  16. Gregg,

    I don't find it odd at all that YouTube would host a video with criminal activity. You can find Neo-Nazi, homophobic, misogynist, anti-semitic, racist crap on YouTube all the time, and there is absolutely no way (at least none that I have found) to flag it off the site or alert an administrator. If anyone knows how to get YouTube to take stuff off their site, send me an email...I'd love to know how to do it.


    Posted by: peterparker | Oct 9, 2007 11:33:41 PM

  17. @ PETERPARKER -- Just curious, where would you end your YourTube cleansing? Is your cleanliness my cleanliness? Are you the you in YouTube? Or am I?

    Posted by: Becks07 | Oct 10, 2007 12:47:58 AM

  18. their Terms of Use, YouTube states that users agree to abide by the company's Community Guidelines which state, "...we don't permit hate speech which contains slurs or the malicious use of stereotypes intended to attack or demean a particular gender, sexual orientation, race, religion or nationality.". The Community Guidelines also state that content that violates those rules will be removed. However, about a year ago I stumbled upon a horribly homophobic video that advocated bashing and/or killing homosexuals. When I tried to flag the video as 'inappropriate' the only categories I could choose were 'copyright infringement' and 'racist'. There was no way I could flag it as violating their Terms of Use due to hate speech against homosexuals. Following my flagging the video, whenever I tried to view it I got a page indicating that the video had been flagged inappropirate by the YouTube community and might be offensive to some. Before I could view it again, I had to acknowledge that I knew the video might be offensive...but it stayed on the site even though it advocated violence against homosexuals. Meanwhile, other videos I flagged as inappropriate because of racist hate speech were swiftly removed.

    This evening I did notice that YouTube has changed their procedure for flagging content making it easier to flag videos for violating Terms of Use.

    Posted by: peterparker | Oct 10, 2007 2:42:24 AM

  19. My loathing for self-appointed censors of free speech who judge on behalf of all us Little People, like the insufferable preening queen who posts as Miss PissParker, is bottomless.

    Posted by: Jimbo | Oct 10, 2007 7:39:15 AM

  20. My loathing for self-appointed censors of free speech who judge on behalf of all us Little People, like the insufferable preening queen who posts as Miss PissParker, is bottomless.

    Posted by: Jimbo | Oct 10, 2007 7:41:07 AM

  21. in what way is peterparker a censor of free speech?

    vitriol, bile, and invective are not substitutes for intelligent discourse.

    Posted by: nic | Oct 11, 2007 6:06:32 AM

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