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Chashab

Chocolate Jesus

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Chashab   

I'm a little surprised no one here has mentioned the whole chocolate Jesus thing in NYC yet. Thoughts, rants, opposition? Is anyone here offended by this? Cuz I just don't get what the big deal is myself.

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SDG   
What? No "sweet Jesus" joke?

The chocolatier already hit that one. The piece was called "My Sweet Lord."

Here's my contribution: The thing was in poor taste.

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Chashab   
Does this need more attention? I guess my position is that publicity stunts don't need more publicity.

Here's my contribution: The thing was in poor taste.

Perhaps as a visual artist (and sculptor more than 2-D artist) I give a person the benefit of the doubt. I had not at all thought of it as a publicity stunt (which is more like performance art, which is more like this guy's previous works than this work from what I can tell). I'm not saying I liked it so much, I'm just wondering why in the world it caused such an uproar

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Chashab   
Chashab, my initial reaction was: Ick. In very poor taste (no pun intended). Dumb.

The timing certainly says "I want publicity."

But really, if people just ignored things like this, they'd disappear from the radar screen. Controversy creates publicity, and I don't think this deserves any.

It seems far more like a practical joke than anything else, a lot like Jeff Koons' giant flower dogs.

Re. "in bad taste," I don't think this is any worse than Oral Roberts' claims re. a 900-foot Jesus, or the velvet-painting-type Jesuses that have been featured on another thread here, or.... Meaning that they're *all* very dubious, to my mind, at least.

I feel like I do possess a "dubious" radar on such things; and this one still isn't raising red flags for me. The artist/gallery reported the timing as purely coincedental. Is there something in their past that would keep us from taking them at their word? I say this knowing my own cynical self . . .

In church this morning I was thinking of other similar works, works out of food, that is. Sandy Skoglund has done things like this in the past, photographing figures sculpted entirely of bacon. The Iowa State fair has had sculptures done entirely of butter in the past . . . of course, neither of these were of Christ.

If this were not made out of chocolate (and instead, wood or stone or another "traditional" material), would it have raised the ire of so many? From the two pictures I've seen thus far, the craft is good.

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I feel like I do possess a "dubious" radar on such things; and this one still isn't raising red flags for me. The artist/gallery reported the timing as purely coincedental. Is there something in their past that would keep us from taking them at their word? I say this knowing my own cynical self . . .

In church this morning I was thinking of other similar works, works out of food, that is. Sandy Skoglund has done things like this in the past, photographing figures sculpted entirely of bacon. The Iowa State fair has had sculptures done entirely of butter in the past . . . of course, neither of these were of Christ.

If this were not made out of chocolate (and instead, wood or stone or another "traditional" material), would it have raised the ire of so many? From the two pictures I've seen thus far, the craft is good.

Statues crafted from ice or butter are meant to be temporary, and are expected to either be eaten or melt away. Grand balls and elaborate cocktail parties include large lions scultpted from butter or horses crafted from pate or Eiffel Towers made of cheese. And these culinary delights are set upon the banquet tables to be sliced away by knife-weilding, cracker-brandishing party guests who are expected to chuckle their amused delight at the clever artistry, and even enjoy an oddly bizarre sense of the surreal knowing they are eating a horse's head or hoof or other body part.

But when an object of reverence is rendered in food, are we supposed to eat it with humor? Or are we supposed to refrain out of respect? And if we refrain, will it not rot? WHy make a food item no one can bring themselves to eat?

What if someone crafted a butter cow and placed it on the wedding table of an Indian wedding banquet? Would not the Indian guests be mortified?

These are the issues I see.

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One of the big attractions at the Pennsylvania Farm Show is the butter sculpture. (This guy was commissioned for 2006 - he also does cheese sculptures.)

PA is a big dairy farming state, and while I appreciate that (lots of cows are my neighbors), I just don't "get" the butter sculpture thing. It's kinda the same with this, though again, I'd put it in the same category as paintings on velvet - kitschy, tacky, weird, "outsider," etc.

I have a feeling that this chocolate sculpture was made as self-consciously as Jeff Koons' work, with similar intent.

I'm not a sculptor, but I guess butter is very pliable, its density is very uniform, and it can be chilled after completion. Cheese is a little trickier, not as pliable, can have uneven density, and probably not as easilly reformed if you goof up parts of it.

Also butter is probably comparitively cheap.

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SDG   
Statues crafted from ice or butter are meant to be temporary, and are expected to either be eaten or melt away. Grand balls and elaborate cocktail parties include large lions scultpted from butter or horses crafted from pate or Eiffel Towers made of cheese. And these culinary delights are set upon the banquet tables to be sliced away by knife-weilding, cracker-brandishing party guests who are expected to chuckle their amused delight at the clever artistry, and even enjoy an oddly bizarre sense of the surreal knowing they are eating a horse's head or hoof or other body part.

But when an object of reverence is rendered in food, are we supposed to eat it with humor? Or are we supposed to refrain out of respect? And if we refrain, will it not rot? WHy make a food item no one can bring themselves to eat?

What if someone crafted a butter cow and placed it on the wedding table of an Indian wedding banquet? Would not the Indian guests be mortified?

Well said, Plot.

The cross is bitter. It represents death. It is a horror, and, if it is by grace the instrument of our salvation, it is grace at its most severe and excruciating.

Two hundred pounds of chocolate connotes decadence, indulgence, delectation, surfeit. At best, it is the stuff of Easter, not Good Friday. The contradiction of medium and message is as jarring as a Good Friday Mass set to carnival music. (I'm ever so slightly reminded of the scene in Flags of Our Fathers in which vanilla ice cream sculptures representing the flag-raising of Iwo Jima are set before the "Iwo Jima heroes" at a gala function -- and then drenched in a blood-red cherry sauce.)

My sensibilities in this regard were informed at an early age by my father's aversion to chocolate crosses at Eastertime. He sometimes registered his protest with a couple of amended lines from "The Old Rugged Cross": "I will cling to the old chocolate cross / And exchange it one day for an eclair."

Eucharistic spirituality has taught me that Christ, even Christ crucified, is in fact for eating. Yet he gives himself to us to eat, it is as bread -- that is, as a staple of ordinary life, as grain sown, harvested, broken, and baked, fruit of the earth and work of human hands.

Chocolate is a delicacy, an extravagance, a rich luxury, a savory indulgence. There is a reason Jesus taught us to pray for our daily bread, not our daily chocolate (or first-century equivalent). I would probably not object to Jesus rendered in bread. It might even be profound.

St. Teresa of Avila, who lived in Spain right around the first introduction of chocolate, is famously quoted as saying, "God and chocolate is better than just God." To get away with saying a thing like that, it helps to be a saint, a mystic, a doctor of the Church, and a woman.

Even so, God and chocolate are, at minimum, very different things. Chocolate might possibly have something to say to us of the ecstasy of heaven, or the joy of Easter. It is not well suited to addressing the dolorous passion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ.

P.S. Bear in mind that this particular sculpture is described as naked and "anatomically correct." So, okay, chocolate genitals. Take everything I said above and add underlining and exclamation points. ::pinch::

P.P.S. Without knowing anything about anyone involved, I find the claim of accidental timing to be less than wholly plausible.

P.P.P.S. "Chocolate Jesus" lyrics

P.P.P.P.S. My medium for sculpting the Passion

Edited by SDG

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Sheila, the butter sculpture is kept in a refrigerated case for the duration of the Farm Show. Wouldn't last otherwise!

Ah! Makes sense! ;)

But I was thinking the artist would wanna maybe let the raw blocks of butter soften up at room temp while he was doing the whole sculpting thing, and then when he's done, toss the finished work of art back in the fridge to harden up for show time.

And as for butter sculptures meant to be sliced away during a cocktail party, I suspect room temp would be mandatory when served.

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Well said, Plot.

Thnx.

The cross is bitter. It represents death. It is a horror, and, if it is by grace the instrument of our salvation, it is grace at its most severe and excruciating.

Two hundred pounds of chocolate connotes decadence, indulgence, delectation, surfeit. At best, it is the stuff of Easter, not Good Friday. The contradiction of medium and message is as jarring as a Good Friday Mass set to carnival music. (I'm ever so slightly reminded of the scene in Flags of Our Fathers in which vanilla ice cream sculptures representing the flag-raising of Iwo Jima are set before the "Iwo Jima heroes" at a gala function -- and then drenched in a blood-red cherry sauce.)

My sensibilities in this regard were informed at an early age by my father's aversion to chocolate crosses at Eastertime. He sometimes registered his protest with a couple of amended lines from "The Old Rugged Cross": "I will cling to the old chocolate cross / And exchange it one day for an eclair."

This is a level of depth I never imagined as far as not making reverent items of food. And that imagery from Flags of Our Fathers sounds horrible! What an effective film moment that must have been.

As for your dad, that's just plain funny! I have honestly never seen a chocolate cross before. And at this point, I'm glad I was sheilded from it.

Eucharistic spirituality has taught me that Christ, even Christ crucified, is in fact for eating. Yet he gives himself to us to eat, it is as bread -- that is, as a staple of ordinary life, as grain sown, harvested, broken, and baked, fruit of the earth and work of human hands.

Chocolate is a delicacy, an extravagance, a rich luxury, a savory indulgence. There is a reason Jesus taught us to pray for our daily bread, not our daily chocolate (or first-century equivalent). I would probably not object to Jesus rendered in bread. It might even be profound.

I dunno about profond. I think it would kinda creep me out. If you did it in 2-D, it would be flat like a Christmas sugar cookie and cary with it all the comical and childlike gaity of a child's Christmas angel cookie or star cookie, but the gaity would be undermined by the seriousness of it. And if you did it in 3-d, as a tall loaf in the shape of Jesus on the cross, it would even more so weird me out. I couldn't bring myself to eat either one. And I'm sure that's an entirely cultural thing.

Even so, God and chocolate are, at minimum, very different things. Chocolate might possibly have something to say to us of the ecstasy of heaven, or the joy of Easter. It is not well suited to addressing the dolorous passion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ.

ANY food shaped like Jesus would weird me out. But the extravagant legacy of chocolate you describe here does make it cross the line from bizarre to decadent.

P.S. Bear in mind that this particular sculpture is described as naked and "anatomically correct." So, okay, chocolate genitals. Take everything I said above and add underlining and exclamation points. ::pinch::

I think chocolate genitals are currently sold at Spencer's Gifts. And you need to be 18 or older to buy them there. As for Jesus' genitals rendered in chocolate, I am hard-pressed to imagine the artist kept a straight face while he worked on those.

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Chashab   
Well said, Plot.

The cross is bitter. It represents death. It is a horror, and, if it is by grace the instrument of our salvation, it is grace at its most severe and excruciating.

Two hundred pounds of chocolate connotes decadence, indulgence, delectation, surfeit. At best, it is the stuff of Easter, not Good Friday. The contradiction of medium and message is as jarring as a Good Friday Mass set to carnival music. (I'm ever so slightly reminded of the scene in Flags of Our Fathers in which vanilla ice cream sculptures representing the flag-raising of Iwo Jima are set before the "Iwo Jima heroes" at a gala function -- and then drenched in a blood-red cherry sauce.)

My sensibilities in this regard were informed at an early age by my father's aversion to chocolate crosses at Eastertime. He sometimes registered his protest with a couple of amended lines from "The Old Rugged Cross": "I will cling to the old chocolate cross / And exchange it one day for an eclair."

Eucharistic spirituality has taught me that Christ, even Christ crucified, is in fact for eating. Yet he gives himself to us to eat, it is as bread -- that is, as a staple of ordinary life, as grain sown, harvested, broken, and baked, fruit of the earth and work of human hands.

Chocolate is a delicacy, an extravagance, a rich luxury, a savory indulgence. There is a reason Jesus taught us to pray for our daily bread, not our daily chocolate (or first-century equivalent). I would probably not object to Jesus rendered in bread. It might even be profound.

St. Teresa of Avila, who lived in Spain right around the first introduction of chocolate, is famously quoted as saying, "God and chocolate is better than just God." To get away with saying a thing like that, it helps to be a saint, a mystic, a doctor of the Church, and a woman.

Even so, God and chocolate are, at minimum, very different things. Chocolate might possibly have something to say to us of the ecstasy of heaven, or the joy of Easter. It is not well suited to addressing the dolorous passion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ.

P.S. Bear in mind that this particular sculpture is described as naked and "anatomically correct." So, okay, chocolate genitals. Take everything I said above and add underlining and exclamation points. ::pinch::

P.P.S. Without knowing anything about anyone involved, I find the claim of accidental timing to be less than wholly plausible.

P.P.P.S. "Chocolate Jesus" lyrics

P.P.P.P.S. My medium for sculpting the Passion

Thanks for elaborating. I don't really disagree with what you've said, but still don't feel the same way. I'm guessing this is because of two things 1: I'm a mixed media sculptor and more interested in process than product. Creatively employing a "new" and interesting medium is always compelling to me. 2: Chocolate is food group #1 IMO ;) I'm hard pressed to say that chocolate is a delicacy in comparison to bread (as this could be as much a cultural thing as an offensive butter cow); it comes from a seed, a plant. Again, this is probably just my own tastes speaking.

Jesus out of bread eh? If we knew the artist was not a Christian (or vice-versa; I don't know one way or the other), would it change our perspective of this work? Would we still call it distasteful if we knew it was done by a committed Christian?

I've lamented other tacky representations of the Christ before, but I still

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SDG   
This is a level of depth I never imagined as far as not making reverent items of food. And that imagery from Flags of Our Fathers sounds horrible! What an effective film moment that must have been.

Well, it would have been, except that as with the chocolate Christ crucified, I had a hard time believing that the creators of this confection would be that clueless not to realize how this would look, especially to the soldiers.

As for your dad, that's just plain funny! I have honestly never seen a chocolate cross before. And at this point, I'm glad I was sheilded from it.

My dad can be a funny man. Unfortunately he is his own biggest fan. Thinks his jokes get better with age.

I dunno about profond. I think it would kinda creep me out.

You might be right. I'm trying to give the artist the benefit of the doubt. In practice it might or might not work at all. But I wouldn't have the same kind of objection I do to the chocolate Passion.

If you did it in 2-D, it would be flat like a Christmas sugar cookie and cary with it all the comical and childlike gaity of a child's Christmas angel cookie or star cookie, but the gaity would be undermined by the seriousness of it. And if you did it in 3-d, as a tall loaf in the shape of Jesus on the cross, it would even more so weird me out. I couldn't bring myself to eat either one. And I'm sure that's an entirely cultural thing.

Maybe it helps to go to a church where we do eat Jesus every week (and even every day). Of course the Eucharist doesn't look like Jesus and a bread Jesus sculpture would, but there's enough of a connection that I think I can imagine the possibility of looking at a bread sculpture of Jesus and hearing the words, "Take and eat, this is my body" (not in their sacramental fulness, of course, but only in an aesthetic, symbolic sense). A 200-pound chocolate Jesus is, again, in a completely different category.

I think chocolate genitals are currently sold at Spencer's Gifts. And you need to be 18 or older to buy them there. As for Jesus' genitals rendered in chocolate, I am hard-pressed to imagine the artist kept a straight face while he worked on those.

You might be surprised. Artists can take their work very seriously even when the rest of us have a hard time doing so. The artist was probably serious; he may even possibly have been reverent. It doesn't change the miscalculation of his work.

Thanks for elaborating. I don't really disagree with what you've said, but still don't feel the same way. I'm guessing this is because of two things 1: I'm a mixed media sculptor and more interested in process than product. Creatively employing a "new" and interesting medium is always compelling to me.

Understood, but there are lots of potential subjects for the artist to explore the wonderful new world of chocolate sculpture without creating a giant Easter basket stuffer of Christ crucified. Once you put your artwork on display, it is not just about you and your creative process, it's also about the public and how your work is likely to be received.

2: Chocolate is food group #1 IMO ;) I'm hard pressed to say that chocolate is a delicacy in comparison to bread (as this could be as much a cultural thing as an offensive butter cow); it comes from a seed, a plant. Again, this is probably just my own tastes speaking.

"Chocolate is a major food group" is something people say facetiously to express their degree of attachment to their preferred delicacy. A nutritionally valid food pyramid is never going to feature chocolate as the major foundational staple at the bottom; chocolate has its place, but it's in the narrow top range.

I say this as one with a profound love of chocolate, BTW, the darker the better. (Milk chocolate is for children, in my book.) Suz and I used to get this Ghirardelli's Double Chocolate that was even darker than their bitter chocolate chips, it was like chocolate crack. We can't get that any more so we make do with the 60% chips.

Jesus out of bread eh? If we knew the artist was not a Christian (or vice-versa; I don't know one way or the other), would it change our perspective of this work? Would we still call it distasteful if we knew it was done by a committed Christian?

I honestly can't see how it would make any difference. If anything I would probably be willing to grant more leeway to the non-Christian. (My special love of religiously themed art by non-Christian artists is well documented.)

I've lamented other tacky representations of the Christ before, but I still

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Chashab   
Understood, but there are lots of potential subjects for the artist to explore the wonderful new world of chocolate sculpture without creating a giant Easter basket stuffer of Christ crucified. Once you put your artwork on display, it is not just about you and your creative process, it's also about the public and how your work is likely to be received.

You're right about something on display being more than about the creative process or the artist. As an artist I revel in the myriad of ideas people have about my work (which, btw, is non-represenational for the most part; though not always). It's part of the process, in a way, for myself. I still give the artist/gallery

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SDG   
BTW, that sand sculpture is pretty cool, SDG. ;) How long did it take you?

Thanks, Ellen! It was actually a rush job... I did it in about 75 minutes (the length of time between my ascertaining that a sand sculpture contest was underway and when the judging commenced).

I wrote about it in this thread.

Another effort from three years ago.

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SDG wrote:

: The cross is bitter. It represents death. It is a horror, and, if it is by grace the

: instrument of our salvation, it is grace at its most severe and excruciating.

: Two hundred pounds of chocolate connotes decadence, indulgence, delectation,

: surfeit. At best, it is the stuff of Easter, not Good Friday. The contradiction of

: medium and message is as jarring as a Good Friday Mass set to carnival music.

Thanks, SDG -- this is the first serious objection I've heard to the chocolate sculpture. I like to think I might have thought of it too, if I had given the subject more than a passing thought, but my gut reaction was that I didn't see what the big deal was, or why I should contribute to the ongoing documentation of Will Donohue's capacity for outrage (FWIW, the first item I read on this sculpture began with a quote from Donohue saying that was one of the worst abuses of the faith ever, or some such nonsense).

: P.S. Bear in mind that this particular sculpture is described as naked and

: "anatomically correct." So, okay, chocolate genitals. Take everything I said

: above and add underlining and exclamation points. ::pinch::

This aspect never fazed me. We've seen nude depictions of Christ before, especially in connection with the crucifixion and resurrection, in Renaissance art and whatnot (see, as ever, our thread on 'the place of genitals in religious art'). And I can't imagine that eating, say, Christ's nose would be all THAT less naughty than eating any other part of him. (Hmm, would you be okay with the "anatomically correct" aspect of the sculpture if it WAS made out of bread?)

Plot Device wrote:

: And that imagery from Flags of Our Fathers sounds horrible! What an effective

: film moment that must have been.

Might have been more effective if it had seemed more historically plausible. But it's certainly an arresting visual on its own terms.

: As for your dad, that's just plain funny! I have honestly never seen a chocolate

: cross before.

I remember writing a skit when I was in my early teens and working with the puppet group at my church, and in that skit I had a character propose chocolate crosses in all sincerity. I remember the adults nixed that idea. I was a tad embarrassed.

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MattPage   

I'm passing through really briefly but

1 - I really like it

2 - I wrote about it on the rejesus blog

3 - I'd like to discuss it more later

Matt

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Tom Waits wrote a song entitled "Chocolate Jesus" on his Mule Variations album. Lyrics below (an excerpt)

When the weather gets rough

And it's whiskey in the shade

It's best to wrap your savior

Up in cellophane

He flows like the big muddy

But that's ok

Pour him over ice cream

For a nice parfait

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