Serrano photos vandalized

On Friday, vandals destroyed seven photographs by Andres Serrano hanging in a southern Sweden art gallery. Apparently, they brought along someone to videotape the attack. The video, annotated with commentary and set to a heavy metal soundtrack, is now on YouTube. Police suspect that the vandals are part of a neo-Nazi group in the area. The video describes them as "national socialists." Serrano is best known for Piss Christ (1989), a photograph of a plastic crucifix submerged in a jar of his urine.
 Images 2007 10 09 Arts Serranospan
From the New York Times:
Around 3:30, half an hour before closing, four vandals wearing black masks stormed into a space known as the Kulturen Gallery while shouting in Swedish, “We don’t support this,” plus an expletive. They pushed visitors aside, entered a darkened room where some of the photographs were displayed and began smashing the glass protecting the photographs and then hacking away at the prints...

The show consists of photographs, made in 1995 and 1996, of various sex acts, including a depiction of a naked woman fondling a stallion. It was divided into two rooms. One had white walls, the other black. The vandals went to the black room, where (show curator Viveca) Ohlsson said the photographs were a bit racier.
Link to NY Times article, Link to YouTube video (NSFW)


  1. Interesting that when neo-Nazis do this, it’s BB news, but when Scandinavian Muslim fundamentalists riot in the streets and threaten to kill people because they’re offended by a cartoon… nothing.

  2. Phasor: I hadn’t heard there were riots in Scandinavia though I agree that when Al Queda puts a bounty on a cartoonist’s head it’s something that we should take note of.

  3. Even though I do not agree Serrano’s opinions, this is terrible. These criminals deserve to be prosecuted to the max when discovered, in Sweden would like to protect its freedom of speech

  4. the ironic thing is they probably just sent the price of those works through the roof. morons.

  5. Indeed, like when DuChamps unrinal was attacked with the hammer (and then peed in) it was deemed that the value was rasied.

    As a Britt living in Sweden (and having a bit of an artistic lilt myself) this is just depressing. I had a look at the website mentioned in the video. It is a rather hateful newspaper. Many referenses to the “so called artist” and his “so called art”. I can translate more if needed…
    (they do have a few good photos from the gay prode parade though)

    If they were my pictures, I would just hang them back up. Maybe use some novelty items to fill in the gaps. Heh, and a thank you letter to the local nazis.

  6. Aren’t socialists generally against the practice of religion, so why would they be offended by “Christ Piss”? if anything the meaning of the art can be (incorrectly) tweaked to serve their twisted cause. Just sounds a little hypocritical. They are douche bags in any case.

  7. Godwin! Oh, crap.

    Nazis were definitely against gays, but I believe Hitler claimed to be a Christian.

  8. the dots do not connect maybe they were not socialist.where making a socialist group look bad. socialists’ were framed!?!!

  9. Y’know, I hate to be the bearer of bad news to those Nazi Swedes, but they just messed up a bunch of photographs. It’ll take literally hundreds of dollars to make new prints.

  10. This sounds like part of the art. Get a museum to display something you created, then vandalize it yourself to further deconstruct public sensibility.

  11. video was removed. i assume for the heavy metal soundtrack. seriously, what woudl this heavy metal band have to lose?

  12. I live in the small city where this happened and it’s really bothering me. My wife and I weren’t going to see this exhibition but now I don’t see how we can not go there and support the artist.

  13. It’s unfortunate that they did not get the negatives. I think the guys that did this have a point. Too bad that they are neo nazis.

    While I believe in freedom of expression, I do not think that this was “artwork” that was destroyed, but rather pornography. As such, I consider it no great loss and question if it had any value other than it was created by an (in)famous “artist”.

  14. I agree with Eclectro. This was not art. This was not a great loss. Better methods should have been used to remove it, but the fact remains that it had no redeeming value and should not have been on display in the first place.

  15. eclectro: I attended a Serrano lecture years ago. He is a very smart guy and his work definitely is art. These punks are doing exactly what he wants them to do. The people that buy his work love to know that the ignorant are incensed by it.

  16. To Electro,

    I actually agree with you that Serrano isn’t an interesting artist (less still as a pornographer). The problem with smashin’ up the exhibition, though, is that guys like Mikael Lindberg, who would otherwise not care about him one way or the other, are now going, as I indeed would, to the exhibition in support of the artist and the museum who chose to show his work.

    You see where this is going, right? If you’re interested in censoring art, you’ve got to do it pervasively- state power, or truly overwhelming vigilante violence is what you’re looking for. Piecemeal “statements” by hooded gangsters will only ever be effective if they can instill a feeling of pervasive fear in the populace. Anything less will simply draw attention to the controversial work, or create a “whack-a-mole” system where work is suppressed in one small area only to re-appear somewhere else.

    So if you really want to go get those negatives, you better have an army behind you. Especially in the case of Serrano’s uninspired provocations- it’s pretty easy to whip up your own “Piss Christ”. If somebody actually went so far as to try and wipe it off the face of the earth, you can bet myself and hundreds of others would be creating our own, just in protest. Piss Christ would literally become another LOL Cats- I HAZ A PEE COLOR.

    This would be the opposite of your intended effect, and, in fact, would be the opposite of my own. I wish that better, more interesting photographers than Andre Serrano would rise to international prominence. You wish that his offensive images would receive as little attention as possible. Therefore, the best method for achieving this is either a takeover of the Swedish state by Neo-Nazi forces, which you apparently don’t want to have happen (“Too bad that they are neo nazis.”) or to ignore Serrano’s work, and actively promote better artists.

  17. Pretty depressing that there are such ill-informed people here. I venture to guess that Electro et al. wouldn’t know art if it * on them. Serrano’s work is about YOU. Master or not, it’ll be History’s judgment but it looks like he’s got a good head start on you pious, fig-leaf painters.

  18. Could somebody please post the link to the neo-nazi group site that was contained in the youtube video?


  19. Electro@15, Knightx@16,

    Would you be so kind as to define “art” for me? Separately or through a joint effort; I’m not picky.

  20. What I miss from this discussion is that no-one mentions that this is more of an attack on homosexuals and transexuals than on art, because that is what the destroyed photos depicted. So those who support the destruction of Serrano’s photos are not far supporting the attack of the real persons behind the pictures. Even local politicians in southern Sweden support the destruction of the photos which is really disturbing.

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