Twelve photographs of Jesus that upset the Pope, and were banned by the European Parliament.
Then the angel said to her; "Do not be afraid, Mary, for God has been gracious to you; you shall conceive and bear a son, and you shall give him the name Jesus."
and she gave birth to a son, her first-born. She wrapped him in his swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, ...
During a general baptism of the people, when Jesus too had been baptized and was praying, heaven opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove; and there came a voice from heaven. "Thou art my Son, my Beloved, on thee my favour rests."
"Alas, alas for you, lawyers and Pharisees, hypocrites that you are! You shut the door of the kingdom of Heaven in men's faces; you do not enter yourselves, and when others are entering, you stop them."
And now, as he approached the descent from the Mount of Olives, the whole company of his disciples in their joy began to sing aloud the praises of God for all the great things they had seen: "Blessing on him who comes as king in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, glory in highest heaven!" Some Pharisees who were in the crowd said to him, "Master, reprimand your disciples." He answered, "I tell you, if my disciples keep silence the stones will shout aloud."
During supper Jesus took bread, and having said the blessing he broke it and gave it to the disciples with the words: "Take this and eat; this is my body." Then he took a cup, and having offered thanks to God he gave it to them whit the words: "Drink from it, all of you. For this is my blood of the covenant, shed for many for the forgiveness of sins."
"The hour has come! The Son of Man is betrayed to sinful men. Up, lets us go forward; the traitor is upon us." While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, appeared; with him was a great crowd armed with swords and cudgels, sent by the chief priests and the elders of the nation. The traitor gave them this sing: "The one I kiss is your man; seize him."
They dressed him in purple, and plaiting a crown of Thorns, placed it on his head. Then they began to salute him whit, "Hail, King of the Jews!" They beat him about the head with a cane and spat upon him, and then knelt and paid mock homage to him. When they had finished their mockery, they stripped him of the purple and dressed him in his own clothes.
From midday a darkness fell over the whole land, which lasted until three in the afternoon; and about three Jesus cried aloud, "Eli, Eli, lema sabachtani?" which means, "My God, my God, why thou forsaken me?"
"Woman, behold thy son!"
Suddenly Jesus was there in their path. He gave them his greeting, and they came up and clasped his feet, fal- ling prostrate before him. Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go and take words to my brothers that they are to leave for Galilee. They will see me there."
"Never despise one of these little ones; I tell you, they have their guardian angels in heaven, who look continually on the face of my heavenly Father."
Ecce Homo is the most publicised Swedish photography exhibition of the
century. It consists of 12 pictures of Jesus in the company of
homosexuals, and is inspired by biblical themes by artists such as
Michelangelo, Doré and Caravaggio.
The photographer and artist Elisabeth Ohlson, who is responsible for Ecce Homo, was born in Stockholm in 1961, and continues to live in that city. She began her photography career as a press photographer for various daily newspapers. Since 1998, she has been a freelancer. Her works include many books on a variety of topics, including HIV and AIDS, homosexuality and relationships. Her exhibition on the gay leather culture opened in Stockholm, in November 1997. Ecce Homo represents her artistic breakthrough.
Elisabeth Ohlson conceived the idea for this exhibition when several of her friends died of AIDS in the early nineties, when certain religious Christian groups characterised the illness as God's punishment. "I realised what a great responsibility the church assumes when it issues statements about homosexuals. We still live by the ethics and morals of the Bible, she observes.
Ecce Homo was shown in Stockholm for the first time, in 1998. Immediately, it gave rise to very strong reactions in both the Church and the media. Many felt that Ecce Homo was sacrilegious, but thousands waited patiently to see the exhibition and experience a different picture of Jesus. Shortly after the first opening, Elisabeth was also invited to show her pictures in Uppsala Cathedral, the foremost cathedral in the country. This decision created a great deal of opposition within the Church, and led to the cancellation by the Pope of a planned audience with Swedish Archbishop K-G Hammar. On several occasions, Elisabeth Ohlson has needed police protection during exhibitions in churches, following repeated bomb threats. Ecce Homo has travelled around Sweden and the rest of Scandinavia and Europe. However, the European Parliament in Strasbourg cancelled the exhibition, after some hesitation. Originally, only one photograph, which depicting Jesus naked, was to be censured. However, after a comprehensive debate, the entire exhibition was cancelled.
As of May 1999, the exhibition was viewed by 160,000 visitors, and will be shown in Rome in July 1999. It has broken several attendance records, and Elisabeth has won a number of prizes for her work. This autumn, a book will be published by Albert Bonnier, the largest publishing house in Sweden, compiling all the reactions and public discussion, and examining the impact of the exhibition on Sweden.
This autumn, Elisabeth will also start work on her next exhibition.