In a convergence of chutzpah and bad taste, Shorewood (WI) artist Niki Johnson has used 17,000 multi-colored condoms to create a larger-than-life portrait of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. She has titled the creation “Eggs Benedict”.
Just like the fawning ministers in Hans Christian Andersen’s tale “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, modern-day art critics have reacted to the art piece with enthusiasm. Critics from the United States and around the world have called the work, which measures 80 x 60 x 12 inches and is encased in Plexiglass, a “commanding and thought-provoking work of serious art”.
Joseph Pabst, heir to the brewing company fortune who opened his home in 2010 for an LGBT film/video festival, has bid $20,000 for the work, which is currently on exhibit at Milwaukee’s Portrait Society Gallery. A portion of the proceeds from the sale will support local AIDS groups.
“Eggs Benedict” is Niki Johnson’s response to Pope Benedict’s statements during his 2009 trip to Africa, where he warned believers that the use of prophylactics contributes to spreading the disease of HIV/AIDS, rather than preventing it. Johnson, clearly ignorant of the Church’s teaching on the beauty of human sexuality, nonetheless felt qualified to address the topic–calling the Holy Father “irresponsible to public health.”
According to the Wisconsin Gazette:
In addition to falling within the artistic tradition of stimulating debate, “Eggs Benedict” also fits within Johnson’s personal artistic tradition. She’s often used public figures as subject matter in ironic ways, and she’s created numerous works using parallel techniques.
For instance, Johnson created a series of needlepoint works depicting women’s breasts. The process of creation involved juxtaposing a medium associated with traditional femininity and subject matter considered taboo by traditional women. In a similar spirit, she created a series of cross-stitched portraits of celebrities such as Paris Hilton.
Read more about it in the Wisconsin Gazette.
* * * * *
Oh, by the way—In case you hadn’t noticed, I am really disgusted by all the Pope-and-condom stories popping up; I hope this, my second blog post on the topic, is the last report I ever offer on the topic.