This sculpture is titled “Miss Kitty” by the artist, Paolo Schmidlin. This artwork depicts former Pope Benedict in full drag. The pope is donning a short blonde wig, lacy stockings, white underwear, an ill-fitted wrap, and a somewhat seductive smile. This sculpture was deemed unacceptable from many Catholic organizations such as the Catholic Anti-Defamation League and was eventually removed from its museum in Milan, Italy. The pressure to remove this sculpture was due to “the theme of the relationship between homosexuality and art.”
The voice in the original artwork was held by the artist himself, Paolo Schmidlin. Schmidlin had a vision of what he wanted to create and the power was entirely in his hands. He wanted to make a statement (though I’m not exactly sure what it is) through his artwork and that is what he did. Schmidlin himself conjured up the idea to sculpt Pope Benedict and make him into a drag queen. The original artwork was an expression from Schmidlin and Schmidlin alone. Nobody told him what to sculpt and what the message it should send. All the power in making this sculpture was held by Schmidlin.
Once this sculpture was censored, the power lies within the various Catholic groups that rallied to have it removed. Organizations like the Catholic Anti-Defamation League had the power to influence whether or not this artwork would be showcased. Once the museum that showcased the sculpture felt pressure from the angry organizations, they had no choice but to pull the plug on this artwork. Although it was the museum that ultimately removed the art, the organizations were the puppet masters behind the decisions. The organizations were the ones who spoke out against the artwork and stated that it was not acceptable and it should not be allowed. The organizations held the power in deciding the artwork’s fate.
When the artist is creating, they have the power and call the shots in how they want their art to be. Once the artist puts that piece out there for the world to see, they are powerless and the power then lies within the critics, in this case, the Catholic organizations. I don’t think the artist and the critic ever switch positions, it’s just a matter of order. In the first order, as the art is being made, the power is with the artist. Once the art is displayed for all to see, the power is with the critics. They are the ones that can judge the art and form opinions. What they have to say can really make or break the artwork. In this case, the Catholic organizations got heated and successfully got the artwork removed. I can’t think of any way that would defy or complicate this relationship. Once Schmidlin released his art, the power is forever out of his hands and into the hands of critics with a voice that can influence others.
My questions to you guys are as follows: What kind of statement do you think the artist was trying to make with this sculpture? Was it meant to be funny? Serious? Given the brief explanation the organizations presented, the relationship between homosexuality and art, what are other reasons or more in-depth reasons that this artwork caused so much controversy?