Bits: 04.18.11

Mustapha Benfodil, Maportaliche/It Has No Importance, 2011

• An installation by Algerian artist Mustapha Benfodil -- which shows a series of headless mannequin soccer players wearing t-shirts emblazoned with Arabic phrases some found blasphemous -- has been removed from the UAE's Sharjah Biennial for its political content, and the biennial's director, Jack Persekian, has been fired. The work "borrows the voice of rape victims at the hands of religious extremists in Algeria, who were using religious texts to justify their crimes," according to text accompanying a petition protesting the actions against Persekian and the installation.

Andre Serrano's controversial 1987 photo Piss Christ, on view at the Collection Lambert in Avignon, France, was reportedly "destroyed" yesterday. "According to the France Info website radical Catholic activists, who successfully infiltrated the Avignon gallery, attacked the photograph using a hammer, a pickaxe and paint bombs, damaging it beyond repair."

• Animal NY reminds us, via a Sister Wendy analysis of Piss Christ, that the work is anything but anti-Catholic (even if she thinks it's a "hamfisted attempt to preach about the need to reverence the crucifix"). "I thought he was saying... that this is what we're doing to Christ. We're not treating him with reverence... We live very vulgar lives... It was a very admonitory work."

ArtLyst: "The reported 10 billion dollar market for Chinese art is in danger of crashing after auction houses around the world clamp down on non-payers. The practice is rife and the trust or gentleman's agreement which has been practiced by auction houses in the western hemisphere for generations is about to be reevaluated."

Access to the journal Public Art Dialogue is free throughout 2011. (Thanks, Taylor.)

• C-Monster looks at El Celso's contribution to Cadillac Ranch.

• Langston Hughes, the gay, black, pro-union poet provided -- at least temporarily -- a campaign slogan for anti-gay Republican presidential wannabe Rick Santorum late last week. Santorum, despite having his name up top at his exploratory committee's website, says he had "nothing to do with" the use of the phrase "Fighting to make America America again," which is a variant of a line in Hughes' poem.

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