Church withdraws funds for ‘insulting’ Jesus photos

The Church of Sweden has withdrawn its backing for an exhibition of pictures of Jesus in Stockholm, after many members of the church objected.

Caroline Krook, Bishop of Stockholm, said objections had been stronger than expected.

“We misjudged the strength of reaction that the Jesus pictures would provoke,” she said, and confirmed that the church was withdrawing financial support.

The exhibition, due to open in the autumn at Kulturhuset, will still take place, officials there have insisted. But they will need to look elsewhere to find the 100,000 kronor promised by Stockholm diocese and the 300,000 kronor pledged by the Church of Sweden centrally.

The photos include classical depictions of Jesus, and images of him as a political symbol against movements such as Nazism. It also, however, included images of him naked on the cross.

Cathedral dean Hakon Långström resigned in protest at the photos last week. He said the exhibition and the book that accompanied it contained insulting pictures of Jesus. The leadership of the diocese, including Krook, had disregarded the views of his parish in funding the exhibit.

The bishop saw the pictures in a different light, and had defended the exhibition, but eventually backed down saying she didn’t want to force the issue.

Despite the withdrawal of the church’s funding, officials at Kulturhuset insisted that the show must go on.

“It is important to go ahead with the exhibition and not to allow other forces to win. Very many people have views on the exhibition and believe that we want to desecrate Jesus. But there is nothing insulting in the pictures,” she said.


Stockholm’s giant penis mural to be covered up after complaints

A giant blue penis painted on a Stockholm apartment building is to be covered up after just one week, the company which owns the building has said.

Stockholm's giant penis mural to be covered up after complaints
The penis was painted in blue with a yellow background, perhaps reflecting Sweden's national colours. Photo: Photo: Hugo Röjgård/Graffitifrämjandet
Atrium Ljungberg said it had come to the decision after receiving a barrage of complaints about the five-story high depiction of a bulging erection.  
“Of course we care about artistic freedom, but at the same time we must respect the opinion of our closest neighbours,” Camilla Klint, the company's marketing head, said in a statement. 
“By letting it remain for a short period, we are offering anyone who's interested a chance to experience the work.” 
The company said that it had been given no prior warning that a giant penis was about to appear on one of its blocks. 
“On Wednesday morning, April 11th, we saw  Kollektivet Livet's new work for the first time, at exactly the same moment as all the other people who live on Kungsholmen did,” it said in its statement.  
Under their arrangement, the artist collective had total artistic freedom over the works it commissioned for the wall, at Kronobergsgatan 35 on the central Stockholm island of Kungsholmen.  
The decision will come as a disappointment to the artist Carolina Falkholt. Her first giant penis painting, which she plastered on a wall in the Lower East Side of Manhattan in December, lasted only a few days. 
She said on Wednesday that she expected her native Swedes to be more receptive. 
Atrium Ljungberg did acknowledge that many appreciated the painting. 
“Some people are positive about the work and see it as playing an important part in the debate around sexuality, the body and gender,” the company wrote.
“Others, particularly neighbours, have received the work less well, and experience it as offensive.”