Church and state clash over art in Arkhangelsk



Archpriest Evgeny Sokolov of the Arkhangelsk diocese of the RPTsMP, on the page of the news agency Pravoslavie na Severnoi Zemle, expressed his outrage over the conduct of an exhibit, "Line of Love," in the Arkhangelsk Museum of Visual Arts.


In response, Arkhangelsk province Minister of Culture Veronika Aleksandrovna Yanichek commented on the opinion of the clergyman.


I begin with the fact that icons are not simply preserved in the museum, but they are placed on display as part of fine arts of the world, as equal with the works of great artists recognized throughout the world like Picasso, Matisse, and Schiele. None of the lithographs have signs of pornography. The respected clergymen should be precise in the meaning of this definition.


God created man not only with a soul but also with a body, whose beauty has been sung by the outstanding masters of art over the course of many centuries. What is being displayed in Arkhangelsk and in all museums of the world and accepted by civilized society to be considered Art should be accessible for people. In our state, the human right of access to cultural values is confirmed by the 44th article of the constitution of the RF. And people decide for themselves whether to go into a museum during the Great Fast. Budgetary funds were not spent on this exhibit by the museum, but that is not the point. I sincerely regret that in contemporary society it is necessary to talk about obvious things and to recall that the church is separated from the state and to explain to the local clergy what is Art and how it is different from pornography.


Art, just like prayer, cleanses and enlightens the soul, makes it sensitive and responsive to beauty and good, and fills it with love. Isn't God love and tolerance?


With peace and goodwill to all believers and atheists,

Minister of Culture of Arkhangelsk province,

Veronika Aleksandrovna Yanichek

(tr. by PDS, posted 5 April 2016)




An exhibit of works of Egon Schiele, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, and Paul Wunderlich, "Line of Love. Eroticism in the work of great masters of the 20th century," which is being held from 14 March in the Museum of Visual Art in Arkhangelsk, was subjected to criticism on the part of the Arkhangelsk diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow patriarchate [RPTsMP], FlashNord reports.


"Residents of the city surely have the right to know the names of their heroes. To know those who contrived in an especially mocking manner to coordinate the opening of the exhibit with the beginning of the Great Fast and deliberately place it in the building of the museum where ancient icons are preserved," the head of the evangelism department of the Arkhangelsk diocese, Archpriest Evgeny Sokolov, declared.


"It still would be interesting to know on exactly whose initiative such a spectacle was brought to us and how much it cost the provincial budget," E. Sokolov noted, after which he refers to the website of State Procurement and notes that "450 thousand rubles were allocated for the pornographic exhibit."


The priest also notes that officials from the sphere of culture of Arkhangelsk province have allocated funds for staging productions "propagandizing promiscuity and sodomy."


The exhibit "Line of Love" presents lithographs from private collections. The exhibit will continue during coming months. (tr. by PDS, posted 5 April 2016)

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