Caution! Religion (exhibition)
Medium: Installation, Sculpture, Painting
Artist: Russian artists featured at the Sakharov Museum, including Aleksandr Kosolapov, Alisa Zrarhevshaya, Anna Alchuk, Alina Gurevich, and curator Artuyun Zulumyan.
Confronting Bodies: Six men from the Russian Orthodox Church; Aleksandr B. Chuyev, a Russian member of Parliment; and the criminal courts of Russia.
Dates of Action: January 1, 2003 to September 2003.
Location: Sakharov Museum, Moscow, Russia.
Description of Artwork: An exhibition of religiously poignant paintings and sculptures, e.g. a church made of vodka bottles referencing a state sponsored tax exemption for the church to sell alcohol, a Coca Cola ad bearing the face of Jesus with the words "This is my blood" inscribed underneath.
The Incident: Four days after the opening of the exhibit, entitled Caution! Religion, six men ransacked it defacing and destroying many of the 45 works of art displayed. After their detention and arrest, public outcry over the exhibit's content spread throughout the area. At the court date in August 11th, the judge threw out the charges of four of the people caught in the museum, literally red handed, due to "lack of evidence." The remaining two people captured were also released by the court, which stated that they were unlawfully prosecuted in their acts of preventing a crime (the crime of inspiring religious or ethnic hatred). Concurrently, a criminal investigation began regarding the content of the museum's collection. Aleksandr B. Chuyev, a member of the Russian parliament, is calling for charges against the artists and curators for instilling interethnic or interreligious hatred.
Results of Incident: Several artists have been called in for questioning by the local prosecutor's office. The curator has gone underground. No formal charges have yet been levied.
Source: The New York Times, International sect. Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2003