Modernizing the Virgin Mary

Posted on September 21, 2012 by

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“May this artist burn in hell and may the flames devour this gallery.”

Not exactly the five star review most artists anticipate, right? French artist Soasig Chamaillard’s controversial exhibit at Galerie Albane in Nantes, France is no stranger to receiving such criticisms. The exhibit, featuring idol-esque statues of the Virgin Mary depicted in a non-traditional fashion is sparking some colorful debate amongst devoted Catholics around the Nantes area. Just how non-traditional are we talking? Think the Virgin meets Spiderman, My Little Pony, and Hello Kitty, to name a few. Imagining quite the visual? 

Image My little Virgin Mary??

 

Chamaillard told reporters she was inspired when the statue of the Virgin her father had gifted her became badly damaged. She decided to refurbish it with a more modern take, which lead to the development of the Virgin representing multiple cartoon characters amongst other figures. Chamaillard never believed the response would have as many critiques as it has and responded “Faith should be strong enough to remain unshaken by simple objects. I think they need to step back from the object and not forget that it’s an artistic work.”

Chamaillard believes that these depictions are fashioned in the image how we, as a modern world, would perceive the Virgin today. Now, I think we can all agree that perhaps, in a modern world, we wouldn’t see Mary taking to the streets donning her infamous baby blue ensemble, I wouldn’t quite go as far to say she would be mothering Jesus in a Superman get up. To each their own Chamaillard. 

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“It’s a bird, it’s a plane…”

Understanding why, specifically, Catholics, are the most outraged by this exhibit takes knowing exactly what the Virgin means to their religion. Catholics have a strong affinity towards Mary as the mother of God and view her as an ultimate compassionate human being, giving her full self to birth Jesus Christ via the Immaculate Conception. Mary in a sense is viewed as mother to all. Having a sacred figure of your beliefs depicted as a cartoon for the sake of art can be viewed as religiously insensitive and offensive to many people. In my non-Catholic domination opinion, I don’t blame those offended. A perfect example is what has happened with people of a Muslim faith as result of a video depicting the Prophet Muhammed poorly. Toying with people’s faith and beliefs can cause a world of issues.

 

From an artistic point of view, Chamaillard’s sense of creativity and originality cannot be overlooked. Not many artists would have the innovation to wake up thinking today is the day somebody puts the Virgin Mary on the moon. That just doesn’t happen everyday. 

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“That’s one small step for man….”

 

 

Debate over the appropriateness of these figurines could go on for days, but in the end, art inevitably pisses someone off. This art just pissed off a slightly larger crowd of someones. I can’t say the Catholic community of Nantes, France will ever embrace Chamaillard’s art; but like most things described as “scandalous”, “shameful”, or “blasphemous” it will all blow over and the next outrageous religious crisis will appear. But while they Catholics are still upset, Chamaillard will always have her Virgin Mary Power Rangers to defend her.

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To view more of Soasig Chamaillard’s figurines follow this link: 

http://www.soasig-chamaillard.com/sculpture-sainte-vierge-galerie

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