Fury as art exhibition encourages visitors to deface the Bible

An art exhibition where people are encouraged to write in a Bible has seen visitors daub abuse and obscenities across its pages. Part of Made in God’s Image, the exhibit also includes a video of a woman ripping pages from the Bible and stuffing them into her bra, knickers and mouth. Next to the copy of the Bible at the Gallery of Modern Art (Goma) in Glasgow is a container of pens and a notice, which says: ‘If you feel you have been excluded from the Bible, please write your way back into it.’

The exhibit, entitled Untitled 2009, was put forward by the Metropolitan Community Church with the aim of reclaiming the Bible as a sacred text. But its pages have been scrawled with comments including ‘F*** the Bible’ and ‘I am Bi, Female & Proud. I want no god who is disappointed in this’, the Times reported.

The exhibition was created by artists Anthony Schrag and David Malone, alongside organisations representing gay Christians and Muslims.

Mr Schrag, the gallery’s artist in residence, said he did not believe in God, but that research into the £7,000 show had reinforced his respect for people of faith. He told the Times: 'Any offensive things that have been written are not the point of the work. It was an open gesture. ‘Are those who say they are upset offended by the things that people write, or just by the very notion that someone should write on a Bible?’ The artist, a Canadian who studied for a master’s degree at the Glasgow School of Art, said that human rights are behind the show. He told the newspaper: ‘Art allows us to discuss difficult things, and Goma allows difficult discussions to take place - that is why Glasgow is at the cutting edge of contemporary art.’

Jane Clarke, a minister of the community church, said she regretted the insults that had been written in the Bible. She said: ‘The Bible should never be used like that. It was our intention to reclaim it as a sacred text.’ Other messages written in the book feature alterations to lines in the Old Testament. These include ‘The Gospel According to Luke Skywalker’ and ‘In the beginning, God (me) I created religion’.

Producers of the exhibition have said that the most offensive pages will be removed.
But critics including the Church of Scotland, the Roman Catholic Church, the Christian Institute and a Christian lawyers’ group questioned why the exhibition was allowed to be staged. George Reid, an ex-Lord High Commissioner of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, is on the board of the council-funded arts body behind the show.
Mr Reid, who said he did not know about the event, branded the exhibit a ‘sad form of sensationalism’. He said: 'Glasgow has a fine record of opposing discrimination and violence. Defacing the Bible will not help to build an inclusive and tolerant society.
‘It is a sad form of sensationalism which will cause gross offence to believers of many faiths.’

Simon Calvert, deputy director for public affairs at the Christian Institute, said: 'People writing on the Bible doesn’t change the truth. 'We all know that they wouldn’t do that if it was the sacred text of another religion. ‘That a taxpayer subsidised gallery should see fit to give space to something like that is disappointing.’

Andrea Minichiello Williams, director of the Christian Legal Centre, said: 'We have got to a point where we call the desecration of the Bible modern art. ‘The Bible stands for everything this art does not: for creation, beauty, hope and regeneration.’ A Church of Scotland spokesman said: 'We would discourage anyone from defacing the Bible.'
A spokesman for the Catholic Church said: ‘One wonders whether the organisers would have been quite as willing to have the Koran defaced.’

Susie Squire, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: 'People pay their council tax to get their bins collected, not to fund pornography and destruction of religious texts.'
The Goma gallery is also home to sh[OUT], a project which includes an exhibition featuring gay pornography and a series of ‘community outreach’ events designed to tackle homophobia.

Read more: dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1201568/Art-exhibition-encourages-visitors-deface-Bible.html#ixzz0M5CW14Sf

I think it unfortunate that some individuals feel so much anger at organized religion that they would want to deface a copy of the Bible. They write vile comments in a book, but what they really object to is how that book has been used against them in their lives.

I agree this is a sad, sad thing to see.

I also like the quote in an AP story on the same exhibition: ‘‘A Catholic Church spokesman said: ‘One wonders whether the organisers would have been quite as willing to have the Qur’an defaced’.’’

Somehow, I very much doubt it.

Might be another case of it being socially acceptable to believe anything in the post-modern world, as long as it’s not Christianity.

This is indeed one goal in the ‘discredit all religions movement.’

Most of my friends are writers and artists but they exist outside of the quasi-religious structure of the Fine Art world, which I associated with briefly. By quasi-religious, I refer to the priest-like class called Art Critics who have the power to affirm or deny, accept or reject and to define what is ‘art’ and what is not. Anything approved by them can then be placed in places of worship called Art Galleries. The bigger and more prestigious the gallery, the more likely the artist’s work will receive praise and eventual elevation in the Fine Art Pantheon.

These critics shape the Fine Art landscape by deciding what is ‘important’ art. They can attach almost any meaning they like into unintelligible scrawls on canvas to defacing the Bible. I was once shown a clear lucite block with metal rods sticking out of it. I was informed, with great passion, that this represented the artist’s life! I had a similar, but more lengthy, explanation of a spiral of duct tape on the floor of a major, local art museum. Unfortunately, the curtain of mystery was drawn back when I noticed a small card on the floor next to it. It read: Please do not remove. This is art.

That is why I quit art school. Apparently, one needed to be exposed to a lengthy indoctrination program in order to tell what was art and what was not. The cleaning lady, on the other hand, free from such indoctrination, needed a small card on the floor.

Art, according to the Church, is to communicate beauty, the uplifting, the spiritual and even suffering in the context of commenting on our shared suffering in life, along with redemptive suffering.

Today, too much press is given to art that defames, distorts, ridicules and even celebrates the horrific and dysfunctional. The work of the artist is an extension of his or her interior person. I encourage all artists reading this to give something worthwhile, something virtuous to your fellow human beings.


Artworks are sometimes thrown out because someone mistook them for garbage.

That is truly hilarious, yet sad. More sadly, it isn’t limited to visual art.

In one of my few college level literature classes (I’m an engineer), a fellow student bet me that he could get a good grade on the most absurd analogy I could think of to describe the novel Moby Dick. I made him call the whole thing a hot dog. Bugger managed a B+. Cost me a case of beer. The prof had no idea she was a total laughing stock.

We’ve lost a sense that art should mean something and point to something beautiful and instead made it nothing more than self expression. When that is all it is, how can it be graded or evaluated?

I’m not even sure that self expression is part of it. Example: in my advanced painting class, at the regular teacher-student review session which was held during class, I realized it was all about story telling and not what was on the canvas.

If the student amused the instructor by describing their work in colorful and clever terms, the instructor would tell the student that they were on the right track, realizing their vision and other psychological things. If the student was less than eloquent, or boring, the instructor would say something like they need to regain their focus and make certain decisions about their direction. By the way, the preferred direction was toward the abstract.


Did you catch the question that this £7,000 experiment was supposed to answer?
‘Are those who say they are upset offended by the things that people write, or just by the very notion that someone should write on a Bible?’ The artist asked. As though there was some sort of prohibition against underlining verses and writing notes in a bible! How clueless can you be? :rolleyes:

And how pathetic that scrawlings of people who self identify as excluded by the bible can’t stand on their own without the whitewash of the censorship to make them look good. The artist’s censorhsihp demotes the project from art to agitprop by attempting to make a silk purse out of pen is cartoons.

I had an Art History prof when I did Graphic Design in college (he had, IIRC, a MFA degree). He used to show a slide on the screen and ask, “Is this art?” We used to have some rather animated discussions about whether or not a specific piece was indeed art.

The very first piece he showed, in our first class, was Michelangelo’s David. Later, it was Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain (a urinal with a bouquet of flowers). We also discussed Jackson Pollock, and some very strange “performance artists”, etc.

I must say, our prof was not your typical iconoclastic artsy leftie. As I recall, all art being qualitative (talent or not?), the only way to define it quantitatively (Art or not?) was to say that “If someone calls it art, it is art”. He did go on further to say that a lot of art was very bad art, and marveled at the mentality of many art “mavens” and “critics”.

He also said that, in our own cases, we would have to decide for ourselves whether a piece was “true art”.

I found (later after leaving school) that a lot of what I learned in Art History dovetailed nicely with what I learned in my Propaganda course. I might write myself a little essay (just to straighten it out in my own mind) on the relationship between art, advertising, and propaganda.

This kind of exhibition is merely a provocation, and the artist knows it. He also knows that even though it is offensive to many (and is intended to be) the exhibit will, more than likely, not result in violence, riots, or death threats against him or his family. This is why he chose to use a Bible. If he had chosen to use a Koran, he probably would have been suject to death threats and vehement protests probably would have broken out. Indeed, if he was truly a courageous avant garde artist, he should have used banners from the Glasgow Celtic and Glasgow Rangers football teams. But then, fans would have probably torched the museum.

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