Take And Eat

Saturday, 14 November 2009

"My body, given for you."

Sweet Jesus, by Cosimo Cavallaro.

Made entirely of chocolate, this was meant to be part of a Holy Week exhibition in New York in 2005. It was closed down to to public outrage.

I think it is particularly brilliant, for the reasons Richard Beck gives over at Expermental Theology:
I have two thoughts about this.

First, is the use of chocolate a way to comment on the cheapening and commercialization of Easter? We all know Christmas has been captured by the retailers. Easter as well. All the chocolate bunnies and eggs and Easter baskets. Might a chocolate Jesus be a way to comment on how the cross has been transformed into candy? And might there be something scandalous about that? To me, the artwork speaks about that: The transformation of Easter into chocolate we buy at Walmart. Is that what Easter has become? And shouldn't I be shocked when I confront that fact in the artwork?

Second, there is something shocking about an edible Jesus. And yet, that is exactly what Jesus said during the Last Supper: I'm edible. You will eat my body. In short, the chocolate Jesus recovers the scandal of the Eucharist.

Dan also finds significance in the title "sweet," the biblical notion of that the Word of God is sweet to taste.

Love it or hate it, Dan and I agreed: Chocolate Jesus makes you think.

I love it. What do you think?


  1. I get it but it may have been the fact that his loin cloth is missing ... LOL big :-)

  2. We forget often that Jesus is only clothed for "religious" reasons -- no way the Romans afforded their victims such luxuries. In fact, I believe I read once that crucified folks were not clothed at all! Not like the Romans would say, "Well, we can't let the children see nudity!"

    And Easter and Christmas are both pagan anyway, chocolate bunnies is just the latest thing -- oh and don't forget wonderful stale peeps! ;)

  3. Well listening to your thoughts helps me to look at it with an open mind but my first thought was "this is disturbing". Why? Not sure. It may just be because of the the idea of Jesus being edible and naked ...

  4. I think it makes me think.
    I also think that most folks aren't willing to ask the simple question that Barbara asked, "Why is this disturbing to me?" Obviously the artist meant for it to be disturbing. Most good Christian folks simply don't like to be disturbed enough to ask hard questions. Maybe they don't ask, because they aren't as disturbed as they know they should be.... hmmmm...

    Like I said, it makes me think. Thanks for posting.

  5. I agree with Cindy. I think with many things (and chocolate Jesus may or may not be a good example) is that so many things Christians rail against, they have never really thought about WHY they are against them. This is something that has really changed the way I see the world.

  6. When observing artistic expression as brilliant as this, I am reminded of what James Baldwin said; "The purpose of art is to lay bare the questions which have been hidden by the answers."

  7. Valorosa - That must have been the most bizarre element of constructing this piece. And what a strange space it is discussing it with you, LOL!! :)

    Tyler - Yes, I think that is why this is so wonderfully confronting in a positive way. When he "despised the shame" I think that was also related to the physical element. I also think too how if you link the shame clothing Adam and Eve with uncomfortable inappropriate attire, Christ hanging naked is a rebuttal to that shame on a million different levels. I think it's quite beautiful.

    Barbara - I think this is one of those situations where it is good to be disturbed. I really like how you are honest with its effect on you. It is disturbing to me, too seeing Jesus penis :) Haha. But ... well, I guess he would have had one, wouldn't he :) Actually, after I posted this, I was reminded of your post on your blog a few days prior about nudity. I think this sort of ties in with that in a whole lot of ways, brings us butted up against our conceptions of nudity in an oversexualised land :)

    Cindy - Yes, makes me think too. I think "good Christian folks" get tripped up in all sorts of ways by our middle class respectability and prudery. That prudery is sometimes a mask for what is going on underneath. I think it is good for us to be shaken up and this, like good art, does it.

    Erin - Yes, and this is what feels so childish about so much of Christianity. And unberably tiresome. Like children. Milk spirituality. Bah to all that :) This is one of the many reasons why I love to hear what you think, because you wrestle with the hard stuff.

    Kel - What an awesome quote - yes! Indeed! Oh wordy lordy yes :) I love the space where the questions are laid bare. You would think having more questions would make things messier but they are always there underneath the pat answers, aren't they.

  8. Oh there you had to go and use the word re"butt"all -- now I am offended!! ROFL -- although you Aussie's probably use the word "bum" instead of "butt"

  9. LOL Tyler you twit.

    Yes. And while you're there stop saying dang as well cos that just sounds plain stupid


  10. Dang, woman, I not only cannot stop saying it but I will not -- it's a regional thing from one of the places I grew up and it stuck hard, like saying crick instead of creek. So there, and now I will say it just to be annoying.

  11. Am I the only one thinking of the Axe commercial on tv where this guy sprays on that deodorant spray and is turned into chocolate which women are constantly grabbing at and eating?

    I also remember my mother gave us a chocolate cross for Easter -- even though we wanted a bunny -- because it was solid chocolate and therefore a better value.

    Then I recall visiting the modern art museum on the Mall in Washington, D.C. I was viewing a modern painting of Christ crucified. A lady came up to me and asked what I thought something was in the painting. In all candour, I told her I thought it was Jesus' penis. She left abruptly.

    Thank you for the inspiration, Sue, and the thoughtful post on a controversial piece of art. The best ones are.

  12. Tyler - okay then, go ahead and dang yourself to death. See if I care (or hear, for that matter ;)

    Kent - 'tis, tisn't it

    Barbara - I don't know that particular deodorant spray commercial but it sounds as patently stupid as all the others :)

    Ahh, your mother was a smart one, warn't she. Solid chocolate. Did it feel somehow all yukky and awful chewing into a cross instead of ... well, I guess it's a bit creepy chewing into a rabbit too, isn't it ... although, not really because people do it all the time. Just not with the fur on and the eys in :)

    I had such a good visual of that woman running away after you put the words "Jesus" and "penis" together in one sentence :)

  13. Eating a chocolate cross isn't as fun as eating the head off a chocolate bunny, solid or not ;)

    And that is just an undeniable fact.

    Sue, Axe deodorant is indeed a stupid American thing, I doubt if any other countries have those commercials. They rank right up there with ED (erectile disfunction) commercials and Red Bull and that sort of thing.

  14. I checked it out on YouTube (searching "Axe commercial chocolate man") and this one represents pretty much what we see in Canada: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3qYT60DSKQ
    There are a few versions that are a tad more suggestive which are also listed.


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