The Risen Christ by Sylvie Van den broeck and Franz Messer

Sculpture banned from exposition by Catholic Church

14/04/2014CARRARA - A second work appears to have been excluded from the “La Croce del Redentore” exhibition curated by the Diocese of Massa Carrara, which opened last week. The exhibition “La Croce del Redentore” (The Cross of the Redeemer) is currently running at the Church of Our Lady of Tears in Carrara, presenting a selection of the participating works.
Two works - each made by a team of two artists - were banned from the exhibition: a plaster sculpture representing a female Christ (Elia Buffa and Gabriele Gennaro) and more recently, a marble sculpture representing the full figure of the Risen Christ by Franz Messer (26) and Sylvie Van den broeck (25).

Their statue depicts the full figure of Jesus, hands outstretched – in the typical fashion of the Risen Christ – but whereas the details of the lower part of the body are rendered painstakingly, the face, or rather the whole head of the Christ is an unfinished stone. The artists explain that the sculpture embodies the three principal stages in the traditional craft of sculpting: ‘while the drapery is extremely accurate and polished, the posterior part of the sculpture resembles a sketch. The marks of heavy tools reveal what’s under the drapery. They tell the story of how the sculpture was made.  We chose an unsculpted stone, the raw material (the first step of sculpting) to be the head.‘

The Church has issued a statement explaining their decision to reject this sculpture, underscoring that the exhibition was set up to showcase works showing the Redeemer on the cross – or crucifixes… emphasizing  the icky part of the whole story. The artists protest the Diocese’s decision claiming that perhaps their work just may be too much of a provocation.

According to Belgian artist Sylvie Van den broeck the Diocese’s motivation makes no sense, since a painting of Christ in the same posture as the sculpture was accepted. The artists elaborate: ‘On the one hand we wanted to explain the process of working in stone - exalting the material, communicating through the material. On the other hand, we wanted to give a deeper interpretation of Christian faith’

The work seems to origin from a mysticism closer to the original Christianisty, out of which Catholicism evolved, in which it is not accepted to portray the image of God. Van den broeck: ‘I believe Christianity should teach the faithful that its foundation does not reside in the beauty of its representation, but rather in the content of the  message of the Redemeer.


Text based on two articles by Barbara Milano in Il Tirreno:
‘Concorso della Curia sulla crocifissione: raffigurano una donna’, Il Tirreno, 11/04/2014
‘Un’altra opera rifiutata dalla mostra Croce del Redentore’, Il Tirreno, 12/04/2014
‘La Croce del Redentore’, invitation to the exhibition
'A second sculpture is banned from the Croce del Redentore', Art is Life, 17/04/2014
‘Torno Subito’, another sculpture on Christianity by Sylvie Van den broeck, currently exhibited in the church