Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The story of a Pope portrait made out of 17,000 condoms to fight AIDS

By Debra Brehmer
Niki Johnson’s “Eggs Benedict,” aka the ‘Condom Pope,’ installed at Portrait Society (all photos by Art Elkon unless otherwise noted)
WISCONSIN---It’s not unusual for a work of art to cause outrage, especially if it dips into the tender zones of race, gender, or religion. It is no surprise, then, that news of the Milwaukee Art Museum (MAM) acquiring a seven-foot-tall, double-sided portrait of Pope Benedict XVI woven from 17,000 condoms has caused consternation, 500 comments within the first day of a local newspaper article online, national coverage, and threats from museum members, donors, and docents to withdraw support. But it seems as if everyone loses during these flare-ups. The ‘Condom Pope’ has not even gone on view at the museum yet. [link]

J. Shimon & J. Lindemann, “Joe Pabst” (2010). Pabst, a descendant of the Pabst Brewing Co. family purchased the work for $25,000 in response to Pope Benedicts statement that condoms use would not stem the spread of AIDS in Africa.