Potato Jesus, Not Potato Famine

The original fresco painted by Spanish artist Elias Garcia Martinez of Christ is seen at church of Santuario de Misericordia in Borja

Last week during my Iconoclasm class at GTU  with Dr. Mia Mochizuki, I learned about what my classmate was calling the Potato Jesus. Cecilia Giménez an, 80+ year old, parishioner of a church in Spain ruined an Ecce Homo which she had volunteered to restore. When I read about this last week, she was horrified over what she had done. However, a week can change a lot. It seems that the piece has attracted a bit of a cult following and the church has taken in over 2600 Euros from tourists wanting to see the piece. Giménez now wants a piece of the action and is taking legal action against the church.

To me, this is a very interesting development. On one level, it speaks horribly as to human nature and for how little a faithful person will sell out. On another level, it is an interesting discussion of iconoclasm. This is not the traditional sort of anti-image iconoclasm we think about but my course is forcing me to think of iconoclasm in broader terms. This is a piece that was by most accounts (including mine) destroyed by her actions. But, on the other hand it has gained a following and there are people who appreciate the “newly” created art. This is interesting to contemplate in terms of destruction and creation and the audiences relationship to art, and in this case the audience not the creator claiming it as art.

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