Deviant Last Suppers

Tomorrow is Maundy Thursday, commemorating the Last Supper (of Jesus and his apostles) in Christian tradition, most famously represented in a late 15th century mural painting by Leonardo da Vinci — a painting often parodied, in playful, pointed, and deliberately sacrilegious ways. Including many turning on gender and sexuality. For instance, this 2017 Italian gay male version:

(#1) The Salerno outrage

Previously on this blog:

on 8/24/11, “Marisol”: Marisol’s “Self-Portrait Looking at The Last Supper”, 1982–84

on 3/6/14, “Maundy Thursday”:

Maundy Thursday is the first day of the triduum, a three-day part of Holy Week. Tomorrow comes the Crucifixion, then on Sunday the Resurrection, the solemn holiday of Easter, onto which any number of cultural practices have been grafted: the Easter Parade, Easter eggs, Easter hams, Easter baskets, marshmallow Peeps, and more.
I have never figured out how to explain most of this to Hindu, Buddhist, etc. acquaintances. It’s all so bizarre.

on 11/22/17, “Superhero supper”: superhero parodies of the Last Supper; with discussion of the Leonardo original

Meanwhile, in Salerno. From Pink News on 4/13/17, “LGBT group defends gay sex version of The Last Supper” by Josh Jackman:

An LGBT group which sparked outrage by creating a gay sex-filled version of The Last Supper to advertise an event has defended the decision.

The picture used by DiverCity, an LGBT organisation in Salerno, in south Italy, features Jesus and his 12 disciples in various forms of undress, kissing and even engaged in oral sex.

Conservative political parties [Forza Italia, Il Popolo della Famiglia] have expressed outrage at the artwork, especially since it was created to promote a meeting which honours Holy Thursday.

Also known as Maundy Thursday, today is the day Christians commemorate the Last Supper, and DiverCity is doing the same – just with cocktails.

… Emanuele Avagliano, an organiser of DiverCity, defended the event at Caffe Verdi today, and quelled any talk of it being called off.

Writing on Facebook, he said: “We want to reaffirm our respect for others’ opinions, but equally we reiterate with force and conviction our freedom to live and enjoy ourselves as we see fit.”

Then from 2012, in Belgrade, Serbia. From the Jesus in Love blog on 10/5/12, “Serbians protest LGBT Christian art show”:

(#2) Elisabeth Ohlson Wallin’s queer Last Supper

Thousands of Serbians protested the opening of the queer Christian art exhibit “Ecce Homo” by Swedish photographer Elisabeth Ohlson Wallin in Belgrade Oct. 3.

Two thousand police in riot gear were present to maintain security for the exhibit, which recreates 12 scenes from Christ’s life in a contemporary LGBT context.

According to news reports, protestors were especially enraged by her version of the Last Supper, which shows a transgender or cross-dressing Jesus in high heels as he shares a meal with his queer apostles, including transgenders, transvestites and at least one person in leather fetish gear. The image reflects the Biblical theme that Jesus welcomed everyone, including outcasts.

Those who objected to the show included ultranationalists, members of the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Islamic community.

“Ecce Homo” has been causing controversy since it was first exhibited in 1998. It became one of Europe’s most noticed and notorious art exhibits, even arousing the disapproval of Pope John Paul II—who reacted by canceling his planned audience with the Swedish archbishop when “Ecce Homo” was shown at Uppsala’s National Cathedral.

“Ecce Homo” toured Europe (but not Belgrade, Serbia!) from 1998-2000, winning awards and breaking attendance records. More than 250,000 people viewed it, but a man with an ax destroyed two of the photos and Ohlson Wallin needed police protection after receiving death threats.

Ohlson Wallin created Ecce Homo in the late 1990s after losing many friends to AIDS. She got mad when some Christians said that the disease was God’s punishment for being gay. Grief and anger became the motivation for her powerful, transformative images. “I wanted to show that love is for everyone,” she [declared]

And before that, outrage over an ad for San Francisco’s Folsom Street Fair. From Adweek on 9/25/07, “A very gay ‘Last Supper’ in San Francisco” by Tim Nudd:

(#3) The leather Last Supper

It’s proving to be a tough week for Jesus Christ in advertising. First he was portrayed as a drunken, pot-bellied, party-crashing hippy. Now, he and his disciples are appearing half-naked and surrounded by sex toys in an extremely gay version of Da Vinci’s The Last Supper. The ad is for San Francisco’s Folsom Street Fair, which calls itself “the granddaddy of all leather events.” See the full poster here. A couple of years ago, people got pretty riled up about a Last Supper spoof that showed Christ playing poker — and Jesus was at least the chip leader in that ad. So you can imagine the outrage here. A [conservative Christan] group called Concerned Women for America writes on its Web site: “The bread and wine representing Christ’s broken body and lifegiving blood are replaced with sadomasochistic sex toys in this twisted version of Da Vinci’s The Last Supper.” The group is calling on California officials to “publicly condemn this unprovoked attack against Christ and His followers” and shut down the street fair.

Now a random selection of queer images riffing on the Last Supper. On the Queerty site on 10/12/07, “GLAAD Likes Art Fags” by Andrew Belonsky:

 (#4) The Trisolini male dancer variant

Gay media watch dog group GLAAD will celebrate their sixth annual OutAuction, during which patrons can bid on pieces by Herb Ritts, Patrick McMullan and Rosie O’Donnell.

New York-based photographer Matteo Trisolini’s take on the Last Supper will also be on the block

Also from 2007, on the Cheeky Nerd blog (maintained by a gay Australian man), this unattributed “Last Supper”, posted on 8/14/07:

 (#5) More gay men

From the Hell’s Teeth blog on 8/20/09, “Homocentric images of the last supper”:

 (#6) The bear variant

 (#7) The female variant

Three very different images of the “Last Supper” – all, I would say, with their own integrity – all making a point for their time. The first one is of ‘Bears’, clustering around a drag queen (as Jesus). The second is also homo-erotic – but with women as the focus. The last is the well known [Leonardo].

From the Kyriolexy blog on 5/15/10, this unattributed “Last Supper”:

 (#8) Another Italian variant

Finally, on the Out in Perth website on 4/13/17, in a posting about the Italian bar’s Last Supper (in #1):

 (#9) The Perth variant

DaVinci’s Last Supper painting has often been recreated in popular culture. TV shows The Sopranos, Lost, House and Battlestar Galactica have all recreated the iconic image.

While it was also the focus of the cover of OUTinPerth’s Pride edition a few years ago. Photographer Angelo di-Benedetto captured members of Perth’s queer scene for our October 2012 edition.

In our version Jesus was played by drag queen Anna Mation.

3 Responses to “Deviant Last Suppers”

  1. Bill Stewart Says:

    Next: what about a queer seder? How to find the afikomen, and what is the prize?

  2. arnold zwicky Says:

    You probably know about LGBT Haggadot, which put queer spins on the traditional Haggadah. So far as I know, though, the seders don’t actually get carnal; that would be like performing queer versions of the eucharist / communion — squickier than queer versions of paintings. Hmm… probably worth posting about.

    • Bill Stewart Says:

      I’ve been to one queer seder and sat in a queer sukkah, but both were very demure and PC. Nice enough, but I don’t mind a little– or more– titillation.

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