Sul concetto di volto nel figlio di Dio
Artist: Romeo Castellucci/Antonello De Messina
Confronting Bodies: Various members of L’Action Francaise and French Renewal
Dates of Action: 2011
Location: Paris, France
Description of Artwork: A play containing a scene in which a man has lost control over his bowels in front of a portrait of Christ by Antonello De Messina
The Incident: In late October 2011, a production of theatre director Romeo Castellucci's latest piece Sul concetto di volto nel figlio di Dio (On the Concept of the Face of God) came under fire while being put on in Paris' Theatre de la Ville. A scene in the show in which a man is looking after his dying father, who can no longer control his bodily functions and, as a result, ends up "deficating" on stage, sparked outrage in French right-wing religious groups. The scene takes place in front of a portrait of Christ by renaissance artist Antonello de Messina and the expression on the face of Christ is thought, by extremist groups, to be making a mockery of Christianity. The group, which includes members of L’Action Francaise and French Renewal attempted to have the production halted legally on anti-religious discrimination grounds on October 18th 2011 but failed. As a result, protestors continually infiltrated the theatre or bought tickets so that they could storm the stage during the "controversial" scene and unravel a banner urging people to stop their "Christianophobia." What's more, according to an open letter written by members of the theatre, protestors used stink bombs to further disrupt the performance. It was later reported on October 28th, 2011 by Le Monde that this same group has had a history of anti gay activism, particularly over public displays of affection between gay men.
On October 29th, the eve of the shows last performance in France, after a rally was held in which approximately "2,000 far right activists" were protesting the show, a march of 300 people showed up at Théâtre de la Ville to protest. The show's Paris run ended, as scheduled, on October 30th. Castellucci wrote an open letter to the citizens of Paris stating that it was noteworthy how Paris was the only city to have given the production such a hard time, citing every other major European city's excitement to host them.
Source: http://culturebot.net/2011/10/11539/far-right-activists-try-to-shut-down-theater-production-in-paris/, http://usa.artsgrantsfinder.com/tag/theater-director/, and http://www.english.rfi.fr/culture/20111026-french-christian-fundamentalists-attack-blasphemous-play