Niki Johnson conceived the image in 2009. Three years later, here's her "Eggs Benedict." Photo Credit Adam W.McCoy
When Lustralboy in 2009 heard former Pope Benedict XVI say that using condoms could increase the AIDS epidemic in Africa, we responded immediately. It has taken Milwaukee artist, Niki Johnson a little longer to finish this portrait of the Roman Catholic ex-leader created with 17,000 coloured, non-lubricated condoms.
The entire project took 270 hours spread over three years to complete, Johnson estimated -- 135 hours individually opening the condoms, laying them out and planning, and 135 hours threading them through wire mesh. She finished in late 2012 and plans to display the piece in about a month but hasn't worked out the details yet.
The Vatican never retracted the former pope's 2009 statement, but in 2010, in an interview for the German book, Light of the World: The Pope, the Church and the Signs of the Times, Benedict said that while condoms are not a moral solution to stopping AIDS, in some cases using them could represent a first step in assuming moral responsibility "in the intention of reducing the risk of infection."
Predictably, backlash from "Eggs Benedict," started smartly when Shorewood Patch reported on the project on Tuesday.
"I find people's anger toward it very interesting," Niki commentedto the Huffington Post. "Someone said that if I'd made a portrait of Muhammad, I'd have been stoned or something. I just thought, but the great thing about this country is that we have a freedom of expression and we can stand up for what we believe in. Of course, the piece is meant to be controversial, she added, but it's more than that.
Johnson chose to use condoms to promote discussing sexuality in general. Viewed from the from the front, she explains,"you can't even tell they're condoms. But from the back, you can." Johnson added that her choice to use several coloured condoms, sometimes layering them to make new hues, also promotes sexual diversity. The portrait is undeniably "very rainbow."
Lustralboy applauds this creative, illuminating and inspiring salute to the departed Pontiff. See Related Stories for another "Eggs Benedict" image.
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