If the Russian Authorities haven’t done enough damage to their countries human rights reputation by jailing the Artist/punk collective Pussy Riot, the target now has turned to Britain’s Chapman Brothers who have been accused of mocking the Church with their art.
The complaints were lodged by a group of extremist Russian Orthodox Christians in Mid December. The action was intent on further suppression of artistic freedoms.130 complaints from ‘visitors’, who organised the protest, were submitted. They had all stated that the Chapmans’ display ‘End of Fun’ insulted their religious feelings.
The work is a model installation piece that includes a crucified Ronald McDonald along with a Teddy bears. The Chapman’s gallery White Cube describes it as; – ‘End of Fun features tens of thousands of remodelled, 2-inch-high figures, many in Nazi uniform and performing egregious acts of cruelty. The work combines historical, religious and mythic narratives to present an apocalyptic snapshot of the twentieth-century’.
Cleared of extremism claims, the investigation has revealed ‘nothing unlawful’ in the display, however the British artists have, under duress, publicly offered their “extreme apology” to those offended and added they wont be returning to Russia in the future. The State Hermitage Museum director Mikhail Piotrovsky stated this “a cultural degradation of society,” adding that nobody should interfere in the museum’s artistic policy and “dictate rules.” “We are extremely sorry to hear that some viewers of the ‘End of Fun’ at the Hermitage were upset or insulted.” “This was a “stunning example of the cultural degradation of society” in Russia: “People think Christian crosses have been desecrated because a teddy bear and a McDonald’s clown are nailed to them. There is nothing blasphemous here, but there is clearly a desire to spoil the mood in our city”. Mr Piotrovsky added that “only an idiot” would consider the exhibition insulting to Christianity. “What is art and what is not is determined by the museum and not the general public,” he said.”
The End of Fun exhibition opened at the Hermitage in October as part of the museum’s drive to promote international contemporary art. The display contains nine glass vitrines with small figurines featured in scenes of extreme violence. The show will now end in mid January.