Three Monkeys Online

A Curious, Alternative Magazine

The Madonna Cries Sperm – Public Culture & Offense

An art exhibit, entitled the Madonna Cries Sperm, is causing political representatives on a local and national level to get hot under the collar.

The exhibit, originally organised by the Yurta association as part of the S.Vitale neighbourhood summer festival, has been cancelled after various local and national politicians deemed it ‘unacceptable’ and ‘offensive’. It’s unclear whether these defenders of public morality have taken the time to see the exhibit.

It’s not our intention to get into the argument as to whether the exhibit is blasphemous or offensive, or what the implications of either quality may be – the exhibit’s authors are currently facing a police investigation under Italy’s archaic ‘villipendio’ charge, a variant on blasphemy legislation.

Instead there are two points that this monkey would like to highlight.

The first is the reaction of Roberto Calderoli from the Lega Nord. Calderoli became a crusading champion for the Danish cartoons that caused offence to certain Muslims last year. Calderoli appeared on a national tv show and unbuttoned his shirt to reveal one of the cartoons printed on a t-shirt. It is with some surprise then, that Calderoli rather than going around with some new summer garb depicting the madonna, in solidarity with the free speach rights of the artist and organisers, instead is calling for the resignation of various political figures who failed to stop the exhibition.

Could it be that Calderoli’s initial danish defence was fuelled more by islamophobia rather than any belief in freedom of expression?

The second point worth mentioning is that festivals such as this running in Italy will forever fall foul of political outrage as long as they depend upon public monies. It’s a cultural reality that virtually any large scale event in cities like Bologna, whether they be rock concerts or gay pride events, rely heavily on public funding.

The organisers of the event deserve solidarity – particularly in the face of the ridiculous villipendio charge, but demanding that the show should go ahead financed by public money is nonsense.