Rome exhibition takes aim at the Church as papal vote looms

Tue Mar 5, 2013 5:52pm EST
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Naomi O'Leary

ROME (Reuters) - As cardinals flock to Rome to choose the next pope, two artists have taken the opportunity to stage an exhibition taking aim at the wealth of the Roman Catholic Church and the sex abuse scandals that plagued Pope Benedict.

Held in an ancient building where Italy's patron Saint Catherine of Siena died, "The Unspeakable Act" is a life-size model of Benedict in a confessional box, his sumptuous red and cream-colored robes spread about him.

Installed on the stage of a darkly-lit theatre, the artwork is surrounded by eerie music and a track of Benedict announcing in Latin his decision to resign after eight years topped with the whispering sounds of people confessing their sins.

Benedict's papal tiara lies on the ground and his bejeweled hands cover his face in apparent horror or shame at a phrase from the Gospel of St. Luke that lies open on his knee: "Let the little children come to me".

The exhibition is the work of artists Antonio Garullo and Mario Ottocento who became famous for lampooning the scandals of the powerful in 2012 with an exhibit depicting a sleeping Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, his hand in his trousers and a satisfied look on his face.

"Too many scandals have been hidden by the Church. Even children were abused in the confessional," Garullo told Reuters at a preview of the work on Tuesday.

"These jewels and rich clothes contrast with Christ, who was in rags. The Vatican even has a bank, which is hypocrisy."

A folded paper tucked into the papal tiara represents the 'Vatileaks' scandal, when Benedict's personal butler leaked documents alleging corruption in the Church's business dealings   Continued...

Italian artists Antonio Garullo and Mario Ottocento (L) adjust their artistic protest in the form of a life-sized statue named "the unspeakable act", during an exhibition in Rome March 5, 2013. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi