Reading the following excellent article http://mic.com/articles/108004/the-sacred-profane-and-charlie-hebdo-why-we-must-protect-art-s-ability-to-shock reminded me of a thread on ModelMayhem over a crucifixion image I created in 2007. The image was inspired after an argument with Monsignor Thomas McDonald at the St Mary’s Cathedral in Perth, Australia. Although St Mary’s was in need of repairs, it was a beautiful Gothic cathedral.
The back story of this image as well as all my crucifixion images are from my interaction with Monsignor Thomas McDonald at St Mary's Cathedral in Perth, Australia back in March of 2006. St Mary's is a beautiful church although at the time I was there, the interior paint was peeling and in need of repairs for which the church was gathering funds. Outside of this (what I consider) Gothic style church was a large grassy area and across the street an open area where the teenage and young adult "Goths" would hang-out. My proposal was the photograph the Goths (many of whom I knew and photographed) inside the cathedral participating in the Catholic services.
Monsignor McDonald gave me permission to photograph the cathedral. After making the arrangements and times, he asked about the series. He must have thought I was talking about Gothic cathedrals. As I explained I was shooting a series on goth people, the monsignor then said no that I cannot photograph in the cathedral. He insisted that all the Goths were Satanists.
Our discussion lasted quite some time. It boiled down to the monsignor telling me that the image would represent that the Catholic Church was Satanic.
I told him that I know many of the Goths that hang out at the park across the street. I had photographed many and consider many my friends (I still am in touch with a few and they have a standing invitation to stay at my home if they ever come here to vacation).
We debated various points about Goths being Satanists, Wiccan, Catholic and why does it even matter when the church is supposed to welcome all. During the time with him, I mentioned that my children are baptized Catholic as is my wife and I found him to be offensive and hypocritical. What ever happened to "love they neighbor" and all the other teachings in all religious books?
With that, he was infuriated at me and told me to leave immediately.
This is one of the images that came to mind as I was leaving. His argument had already condemned those that he did not know and would not open his mind beyond the Goths black clothing and make-up.
I did end-up shooting the initial concept that McDonald rejected at the Weisly Church. The Father at that church welcomed the idea and the Goths without concern of others’ perceptions. He even participated as a model in the shot, being the Father presiding over our mock services.
It took me 20 months to finally pull off the first crucifixion shoot. I have been kicked out of all but one church and even cemeteries proposing the idea of the crucifixion. Because of the location hassles, I knew this shot would stir controversy, but I also hope that even in a small way, people will try to look beyond the surface and try to see the meaning. It is about belief and cannot be claimed by any race, creed, or even a subculture. And it applies to all religions.
Once I posted the image onto ModelMayhem.com, the comments started when a potential model that was going to work with me saw the crucifixion image. She started a thread that ended up with several hundred comments. But what I found amazing was all the various tangents, support, hatred, and racism appeared in the thread. Even though the thread was blocked so that no one else could post, it is actually still available to read. You can access the thread at: http://www.modelmayhem.com/p.php?thread_id=208425
Crucifixion & Angel© Reidar Schopp, All Rights Reserved, www.RLSFoto.com. My most ambitious shoot at the time (Sept, 29, 2007). Thistle Harlequin was Jesus, Rebel Smith as the Angel. But the set also included several others who were to be additional angels, one devil, 2 MUA's, and a piercer. I went with the simpler image.