Just in time for Christmas, the anonymous street artist Banksy gave the Walker Art Gallery of Liverpool a vandalized “gift” entitled Cardinal Sin (the pun is on you, Cardinale!). The gift in question: a replica of an 18th-century bust, with a face disfigured by 25 bath-tiles in shades of beige –suggestive of a convict’s pixelated face in the evening news. Cardinal Sin is now situated at the museum’s 17th-century Old Masters section, alongside religious art from the aforementioned period. Banksy, who is famous for his strong and opinionated stance on socio-political issues such as state authority, Palestine-Israel conflict and consumerism, now makes a slightly-belated comment on the Catholic child abuse scandals (which have plagued the church since 1983.)
Cardinal Sin is believed to be a response to the Vatican’s new guidelines that deal with sexual abuse cases, passed last May, which strongly recommends that the ‘alleged guilty’ should be handed over to civic authorities; but does not deem it mandatory. In a statement, the artist kindly asked his audience to not to forget ‘the true meaning of Christianity: the lies, the corruption and the abuse.’ What surprises us the most is the fact that Banksy reached out to the museum and offered the sculpture on the condition that it would be demonstrated as a part of the 17th-century collection, rather than his usual act of casually sneaking the piece into the museum. With that being said, and another Christmas-meets-Banksy image on our minds (see left), our question is if the artist will ever use Santa in his religion/Christmas- focused statements.