‘Piss Christ’ creates fury at Italian art show

The exhibition of a controversial photograph - displaying a plastic and wood crucifix submerged in a beaker of urine - is creating controversy in Italy.

'Piss Christ' creates fury at Italian art show
The decision to display a controversial photo showing a crucifix in a beaker of urine by American photographer Andres Serrano has caused complaints in Italy. Photo: News Ltd/AFP

'Piss Christ' – a 1987 work by American photographer Andres Serrano – is set to be displayed at the Photolux Biennial of International Photography in Lucca, an exhibition financed by the regional government of Tuscany.

But the region's decision to finance a display of a photo widely regarded as blasphemous has upset members of Italy's right wing party, the Northern League, Il Giornale reported.

“It is unacceptable that the regional Democratic Party government funds work that so heavily offends Christianity,” read a note from Northern League councillors Manuel Vescovi and Elisa Montemagni.

“It is a work that demeans Christ and pays tribute to Islam,” the councillors continued.

Serrano has long been a controversial figure, mostly thanks to his widespread use of bodily fluids and cadavers in his photographs.

Since first being displayed in the US in 1987 'Piss Christ' has come under fire from a number of religious and conservative figures in the US, who have also taken issue with displays of  the work receiving state funds.

During a 2011 exhibition in the southern French city of Avignon, two Catholic activists even attempted to destroy the piece by smashing the frame housing the controversial photo.

'Piss Christ' after being attacked by Christian activists in 2011. Photo: Boris Horvat/AFP

But the Photolux festival director, Enrico Stefanelli, sees things very differently and defended the festival's decision to display the work.

“The spirit of the festival is to find balance within a context of freedom,” he said.

“The work is not an offence nor is it a criticism of Christ, it's all about the commercialization of images. And it's important that we view it in the historical context of the 1980s to which it belongs.”

The exhibition will run from November 21st to December 13th.

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Italian researchers discover 14 descendants of Leonardo Da Vinci living in Tuscany

Historians are searching for relatives of the Italian Renaissance artist as a study of his genealogy aims to ‘better understand his genius’.

Italian researchers discover 14 descendants of Leonardo Da Vinci living in Tuscany
Vinci, the Tuscan village where Leonardo Da Vinci was born. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

The researchers behind the project, which has spanned several decades, say they have so far found 14 living relatives aged one and 85.

All of them live in the region of Tuscany, where the painter, scientist, engineer and architect was born in 1452.

READ ALSO: Eight things you might not know about Leonardo Da Vinci

The findings form part of a decades-long project, led by art historians Alessandro Vezzosi and Agnese Sabato.

The study’s findings, published in the Human Evolution journal, document the male line over the past 690 years, through 21 generations.

Though Da Vinci never married and had no children, he had at least 22 half-brothers, according to researchers.

Born in the Tuscan town of Vinci, he was the illegitimate son of a local notary.

READ ALSO: Vinci, the Tuscan paradise where Leonardo’s genius bloomed

Vezzosi told the Ansa news agency that by 2016 “we had already identified 35 of Leonardo’s living relatives, but they were mostly indirect, in the female line, as in the best-known case of the director Franco Zeffirelli.”

“So they were not people who could give us useful information on Leonardo’s DNA and in particular on the Y chromosome, which is transmitted to male descendants and remains almost unchanged for 25 generations”.

He said the 14 living descendants identified in the study, through painstaking research over the decades, were from the male line.

READ ALSO: Da Vinci’s ‘claw hand’ left him unable to hold palette: researchers

“They are aged between one and 85, they don’t live right in Vinci but in neighbouring towns as far away as Versilia (on the Tuscan coast) and they have ordinary jobs such as a clerk, a surveyor, an artisan,” Vezzosi said.

The relatives’ DNA samples will be analysed in the coming months by the international Leonardo Da Vinci DNA Project, led by the Jesse Ausubelof Rockefeller University in New York and supported by the Richard Lounsbery Foundation.