Stills Gallery: Centre for Photography / Andres Serrano
Exhibition run: Friday 30th November 2018 – Sunday 3rd March 2019
Gallery open daily 11am – 6pm. Always Free.
23 Cockburn St, Edinburgh EH1 1BP
It’s easy to torture people when you have power over them – Andres Serrano
Since the 1980s Andres Serrano’s work has sparked debate and raised questions about censorship, taste, public decency and acceptable modes of expression. In 1987 Serrano received international attention for his work ‘Piss Christ’, a photograph of a small plastic crucifix submerged in a tank of the artist’s urine. The work ignited a national debate on the freedom of artistic expression and the public financing of controversial artworks.
‘Piss Christ’ will be included in Stills’ new exhibition, alongside 10 more recent photographs from Serrano’s ‘Torture’ series commissioned by socio-political arts organization a/political in 2015. Many of the works in the Torture series were staged at The Foundry, an experimental space in the French industrial town of Maubourguet. Here, Serrano assumed the role of the torturer and under the guidance of military personnel photographed more than 40 subjects in degrading positions using devices that were produced on-site by the local residents. The subjects suffered humiliation and actual physical distress as they were shackled, submerged and forced into stress positions for extended periods of time.
For this body of work, Serrano travelled widely, photographing prisons, immigration removal centers and concentration camps, as well as torture devices from important historical collections and tourist attractions. The compositions have been elevated to the status of Renaissance altarpieces and are among the largest images the artist has ever produced.