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Friday, 16 February, 2001, 02:38 GMT
'Naked Jesus' angers Giuliani
Rudolf Giuliani
Giuliani could take the matter to the Supreme Court
A photograph depicting Christ's last supper which features Jesus as a naked black woman has been described by the mayor of New York, Rudolph Giuliani, as outrageous and disgusting.

Why can't a woman be Christ? We are the givers of life

Renee Cox
The picture is part of a new exhibition of the work of black photographers which opens at the Brooklyn museum of art on Friday.

Mr Giuliani has said he will establish a committee to look at standards of decency in publicly subsidised institutions.

But the author of the work, Renee Cox, demanded to know why Christ should not be depicted by a woman, telling her critics to "get over it".

"Why can't a woman be Christ? We are the givers of life," she said.

Anti-Catholic charge

In Yo Mama's Last Supper, Cox faces forward, holding her arms wide open and is surrounded by 12 black apostles sitting or standing.

Renee Cox with photo
Renee Cox: "Get over it"
Another exhibit, by Willie Middlebrook, depicts a topless woman crucified.

Mr Giuliani said that the exhibits were "anti-Catholic", adding that he had asked city lawyers to explore legal action against the museum.

"If it were done against another group there would be an outcry in this city that would demand that they take the photograph down, but anti-Catholicism is just accepted prejudice, it is allowed in the city and in our society," Reuters news agency quoted him as saying.

Elephant dung

It is not the first time the museum has clashed with Mr Giuliani.

Two years ago he tried unsuccessfully to remove the museum's funding, following the display of a picture of the Virgin Mary decorated with elephant dung in the Sensation exhibition by British artists.

On this occasion, a federal court judge ruled that the city had violated the First Amendment, which guarantees freedom of expression under the constitution.

But Mr Giuliani is now threatening to take the current case to the Supreme Court.

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See also:

08 Jul 99 | Americas
Profile: Mayor Rudolph Giuliani
12 Mar 00 | Americas
New art scandal in New York
04 Oct 99 | From Our Own Correspondent
Bad omens in the Big Apple
28 Sep 99 | Entertainment
Hillary steps into dung art row
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