Artists too frightened to tackle radical Islam - Times Online
Britain’s contemporary artists are fêted around the world for their willingness to shock but fear is preventing them from tackling Islamic fundamentalism. Grayson Perry, the cross-dressing potter, Turner Prize winner and former Times columnist, said that he had consciously avoided commenting on radical Islam in his otherwise highly provocative body of work because of the threat of reprisals.
Perry also believes that many of his fellow visual artists have also ducked the issue, and one leading British gallery director told The Times that few major venues would be prepared to show potentially inflammatory works. “I’ve censored myself,” Perry said at a discussion on art and politics organised by the Art Fund.
“The reason I haven’t gone all out attacking Islamism in my art is because I feel real fear that someone will slit my throat.” Perry’s highly decorated pots can sell for more than £50,000 and often feature sex, violence and childhood motifs.
One work depicted a teddy bear being born from a penis as the Virgin Mary. “I’m interested in religion and I’ve made a lot of pieces about it,” he said. “With other targets you’ve got a better idea of who they are but Islamism is very amorphous. You don’t know what the threshold is. Even what seems an innocuous image might trigger off a really violent reaction so I just play safe all the time.”
The fate of Theo van Gogh, the Dutch film-maker who was murdered by a Muslim extremist in 2004 after he made a film portraying violence against women in Islamic societies, is the most chilling example of what can happen to an artist who is perceived to have offended Islam. Perry said that he had also been scared by the reaction across the Islamic world to Danish cartoons deemed anti-Muslim in 2006 and by the protests against Salman Rushdie’s knighthood this year.
What a powerful comment on the peaceful and civilized nature of Christianity. I guess there is such a huge difference between fundamentalist Islam and fundamentalist Christianity that the most "transgressive" critics of Christianity clearly understand it.
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