Russians Ordered to Pay Fine for Mickey Mouse Jesus
July 12, 2010
Russia (ChattahBox) – Showing that it is still a country of deep censorship and lacking freedom, despite major advances since the fall of the Soviet Union, two art experts have been fined after the Russian Orthodox Church protested against an art show in 2007.
According to the BBC, the 2007 show sparked controversy for months ahead of its’ release, but drew a major crowd on opening day. It was not until 2009 that the controversy turned to an official criminal proceeding.
The show featured several portrayals of Jesus Christ, one with a Mickey Mouse head, and another with the Medal of Lenin on its’ shoulder, as Jesus was crucified.
Andrei Yerofeyev and Yuri Samodurov were placed on trial for inciting hatred.
The trial was protested by artists, curators, human rights groups, and art enthusiasts alike. An open letter written by thirteen prominent Russian artists. The letter, published on Grani.ru, said:
“It is quite obvious that Erofeev and Samodurov, in putting on display the works of Russian artists, had no intention of offending anyone. The absurdity of this accusation and of the organization of the trial has been written about in the Russian and foreign press. Prominent figures from the worlds of art and science have spoken out in defence of the accused. A conviction will be a sentence against the whole of Russian contemporary art and yet another step towards the introduction of cultural censorship, whether explicitly or implicitly.”
Despite this plea, the trial continued, and the two men have now been convicted and sentenced to pay fines, with Samodurov paying 200,000 rubel ($6,476), and Yerofeyev to pay 150,000 rubel ($4,857).
The original complaint was filed by the Council of the People, an Orthodox group that said the images were “anti-Christian”.
“If you like expressing yourself freely, do it at home, invite some close friends,” Council representative Oleg Kassin said.
“But from the moment that such an exhibition takes place in a public space, and especially if it contains insults, it’s no longer art but a provocation.”
Evidently, Mr. Kassin does not see that the statement can work both ways. Perhaps, in the future, if his organization has a moral complaint against an art exhibit, it would be wise to choose not to go, and let others think and decide for themselves.
It would be nice it the Russian courts believed the same.