Alpine Summit

Friday, February 03, 2006

Imagine Peace

On the heels of my last post, there is a work of art (which is a relative term, I know) that portrays OBL as Jesus Christ. Michelle Malkin, and others, are upset about it. I think it's time for a little perspective here.

First off, the picture is definitely done for some purpose. Paintings are not photographs--there is a very specific intent behind painting something because it takes more effort than "point and click." So, what is the intent of the artist with this?

On the phone with me, the artist declined to do an on-camera interview, telling me the work speaks for itself, but adding, the resemblance to Bin Laden was no accident.

This is what artists do. Music or Canvas, they express a feeling or outlook using their talents and because they're insane, never expressly say what those feelings or outlooks are. Maybe not because they're insane, but perhaps it's the interpretation by others that gives artists their "reward" for their work (it sure isn't the money). So, in that spirit I would like to offer my own analysis.

Many people are upset this is depicts "Jesus," and he's surrounded by several "bad" things as well as being painted upside down. My view is that the artist is depicting things that are wrong with the world. The border of the painting has "Mujahadin," "McCarthyism," and "Amadou Diallo." On top of that, OBL's face (as verified by the artist) is on a Christ body. These ideals have a common factor of being considered (legally or ethically) "righteous." The artist is expressing these things as "unrighteous" in an ironic way.

Many Muslims believe OBL to be a messiah figure or "holy" man. Mujahadeen considers itself doing God's work, McCarthy felt his work was doing what was best for the country (defeating those "godless pinkos"), the death of Amadou Diallo was deemed "not a crime" by a community leader. The artist is expressing bad things and how they are antithetical to what Christ actually taught, or what should be good, hence the Christ-figure upside down.

I really don't view this as a controversial piece of work. In fact, I kind of like it. I really don't feel strongly about the Amadou Diallo issue, but showing horrible things done by men in the name of good, is an interesting concept for a work of art. It should remind us that how we act is just as important as why we act and how when those two things diverge, we end up with horrible consequences.

The deeper message I see in this particular work is unlike the "Piss Christ," because instead of just being obscenely grotesque and openly hostile (in my opinion) to Christianity, it seeks to convey some kind of message.