Woe to talk about the Christian roots of Europe or ask for the recognition of symbols and traditions of Christianity by the Brussels institutions but an exhibition at the European Parliament depicting LGBT Jesus is welcome.
The provocations against Christians and the episodes of blasphemy with which they want to pass off depictions of bad taste as works of art are not new, yet it is really inappropriate for the European Parliament to host an offensive and inappropriate exhibition.
A few days ago, all the mailboxes of the European Parliament received an email signed by the European deputy Malin Bjork of the Swedish Left Party to promote an exhibition organized by «The Left».
Dear friends, on the occasion of the Swedish presidency of the European Council, I invited the photographic artist Elisabeth Ohlson to show some of her works. All of the pieces she chose for this show have an LGBTQI or otherwise inclusive, human rights theme.”
Attached to the message, the invitation for the inauguration of the exhibition with two images, one depicting a boat of migrants approaching a ship with a soldier placing his foot on the small boat with the migrants and another with Jesus Christ surrounded by apostles dressed as sadomasochistic slaves.
As Lega MEP Maria Veronica Rossi explains, «it is legitimate to address issues of all kinds in institutional settings, but exploiting a religion is an intolerable lack of respect for millions of faithful throughout Europe. Other than cultural insight, this appears as a gratuitous provocation: why offend and lack respect?».
There were numerous possibilities to celebrate the Swedish presidency of the EU Council and to talk about human rights, but the decision to address this issue by bringing religion into question has a clear political intention.
On the other hand, the artist Elisabeth Ohlson is not new to provocations and her artistic career took a turning point in 1998 when she exhibited for the first time Ecce Homo, her Jesus in an Lgbtq+ key inside a Swedish cathedral (a circumstance which testifies the yielding of values of a certain Protestantism).
On that occasion, the images went around the world and the former MEP Marianna Eriksson tried to have them exhibited also in the European Parliament. In that case, however, the content of the shots was deemed too offensive by the quaestors of the European Parliament who blocked the initiative. Twenty-five years later, the new attempt by another MEP does not seem to have caused the same scandal and Ohlson’s shots will thus be exhibited in Brussels.
However, the problem with his exhibition is twofold; on the one hand it concerns the themes of his works but, wanting to appeal to artistic freedom, there is a second criticality and it concerns the place where his works will be exhibited: the European Parliament. For obvious reasons of expediency, an institutional headquarters is not the right place to give space to blasphemous and offensive images.