For Andres Serrano and his Piss Christ (1987)

Wat hieronder staat is een combinatie van poëzie en manifest. Ik heb het in een ruk in het Engels geschreven. In het Engels omdat het niet alleen van belang is voor het Nederlands taalgebied, maar voor alle taalgebieden. Als kunst wordt verboden of vernietigd word ik boos, zelfs als het om kunst gaat waar ik niet van houd. De misdadiger Vangheluwe is welkom in gastvrij Frankrijk, maar de Piss Christ van Andres Serrano wordt er door fanatieke vandalen beschadigd. Terwijl het werk net een sterk religieuze inslag heeft.

What follows is a mix of poetry and manifesto. I wrote it in breathless anger, immediately in English. In English and not in Dutch because it concerns every one of us. I think religion and fanaticism are opposites. (I’m not a religious person, though.) When fanatics destroy art, even if it’s art that I don’t like much, I get angry and sad. The criminal Belgian bishop Vangheluwe is welcome in France, but Andres Serrano’s Piss Christ is not. Vandals tried to destroy an important work of art, a work which is truly religious and human. Maybe all too human.


I open the book:
page five of The History Of Sex, Immersions,
Piss Christ – heavenly gold
and fiery red.

Oh you devil, Andres Serrano
what have you done.
Isn’t it a sin against every law,
written and unwritten?

You made Jesus Christ glow,
filled him with human need
and passion and desire.
You baptized him in the warmth
of your bodily fluids.

Did you crucify Jesus?
No way did you crucify the Nazarene.
So many of us did that already.
The ones who threw the first stones did it.
The ones who burned the crosses.
The ones who tortured the innocent.
The priests, the bishops and popes who raped our children.
The generals and presidents who sent us to war.

And you!
Who are you to blame an artist?
Who are you to banish a truth?
Who are you to destroy an intimate world?
Who are you, the better ones?
The good-hearted ones?
The ones who once were lost but now are found?

Today I returned to my beloved Piss Christ
and now I wait for the full moon
to piss on the crowd of fanatics,
to piss on you who believe in violence and hatred,
in lies, in indifference, in wealth, in eternal life.

I piss on you who only believe in yourself
in your illusions of cleanliness:
no piss, no blood, no semen, nothing at all.
You who never do any harm.

I piss on you who throw the first stones.
And after that I’ll  close the book
and look at you, the one I cherish,
the one I love like blood and fire.