Thursday, May 03, 2012

The Cross of Christ causes a the Church

Passau: Kirche entfernt Kreuze - Stadt - Medienagentur DENK

Passau – A paradoxical scandal in the Episcopal City of Passau. The church removes an exhibition of 30 crosses from a room on its property. Background for the censorship: Visitors allegedly objected to the brightly colored figures of Christ on grave crosses.

"Transitus / transitions", the exhibition to celebrate the 60th birthday of Passau artist Frederick Brunner was in the Diocesan Museum, the Prince Bishop's residence. In addition to a gallery with abstract paintings, there was a special room, an installation called "death and resurrection." It has been on show since 2004 in many other places.  In the front of a brochure with texts from the Apocalypse, Brunner places 30 simple grave markers. They have already been in use and are partially weathered. On each cross a figure of Christ is found in various, even garish colors: blue, green, red .... The depressed mood of the cemetery, "Cross in the Forest" becomes serene. This was the intention of the artist. "The colorful figures of Christ are meant symbolize happiness, the grief of death is compared to the joy of the resurrection." An interpretation in the best sense of Christian theology. The 60-year-old painter has always been concerned with the symbolism of the cross. His main job is as a school teacher of religion, art, and German.

On the fourth day of the exhibition space with the grave crosses was suddenly empty. Without informing the artist,  Alois Brunner (that they have the same same name is a co-incidence), the head of the artistic matters of the diocese removed the installation. The crosses were placed ​by workers in a storage room. What had happened?

The churchman did not respond to an email from the local magazine Bürgerblick. Their press spokesman Wolfgang Duschl however communicated by telephone: "There have been several complaints about the exhibtion which they found strange and indeed unreasonable."

In response to the media interest, the installation was reduced, and a "less confronting" form re-erected: Twelve crosses showing the Crucified in bright colors were sorted out. The effect has gone.

Brunner experiences censorship as an artist, he announces, and immediately cancels the entire exhibition. "I find it incredible that these things are done behind my back," he is angry, No-one from the church had made taken contact with him. He thinks that the exhibition is in "neutered form."

In order to avoid a public row ( Bürgerblick had in the meantime informed Bavarian Radio), the church finally responds. Vicar General Klaus Metzl decides that the exhibition should be restored to its original form. He takes a theological approach: That cross is a symbol which has always been a scandal.

Brunner is satisfied: "I hope my crosses continue to provoke."

But the crusade against the art can no longer be covered up: crosses removed, for two days the room was empty, a few new items, crosses, two days a "defused" Look, all crosses back. The local magazine has documented the process and in the next edition, which will be released tomorrow, a detailed article will be published about the artist and his crosses, about exhibitions in the locality.

On Thursday evening, the person responsible for art in the diocese, Alois Brunner, issued a statement to the public. He did not give his personal opinion on the installation - he had seen it at the opening reception.

Over the weekend, museum staff received very critical feedback from whole groups of visitors who felt personally disturbed bv the Death and Resurrection exhibition. Of course, we know that the cross of Christ again and again has challenged and provoked people. This is also part of our Christian faith. We paused the , and initially removed the crosses. We should and could have clarified this with the artist Friedrich Brunner both at first and later. We are very sorry gave the meantime. In the meantime there has been personal contact with the artist and all crosses are back. This is completely in the spirit of the motto of the former Passau Bishop Simon Konrad Landersdorfer "Stat crux, dum volvitur orbis". The Cross stands while the earth revolves.
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