Sunday, August 30, 2009

Peek-A-Boo Jesus

Title: Peek-A-Boo Jesus (AKA Lund's Corner Jesus)

Artist: Maki105

Medium: Wheat-pasted poster

Size: 180 x 78 cm

Date: 2009

Location: Premier Video, New Bedford, Massachusetts.

In the parking lot of Premier Video, a few days after street artist Maki105 placed a wheat pasted poster titled “Peek-A-Boo Jesus” on the side of the New Bedford, Massachusetts video store, dozens of Christians began flocking to the site. They came from miles around. They were young and old, sometimes three generations of a family in a car. There were blue-collar workers with their buddies, retirees, teenagers. They brought cameras and took pictures of each other near the figure of Christ. Some brought flowers, real and artificial, and some brought candles that flickered in their jars in the spring breeze.

Christ's enigmatic gesture — he is holding his hands over his eyes — stirred many of those into what was a fairly unanimous interpretation: that Christ had to close his eyes to the world today. A middle-aged couple in their car didn't get out, but rolled down the window enough for the man to say, "I don't know what to make of it," and for his wife to concur with the idea that Jesus can't bear to watch anymore.

Maki105, perhaps aiming for a more satiric depiction of Christ playing peek-a-boo, may have not anticipated the reaction his work garnered from the faithful. But the gesture of covering one’s eyes is a powerful one, and the association with a game of peek-a-boo is far from the first thing that pops into one’s mind. We may laugh at the irony of a piece of art meant to poke fun at Christianity has accidentally become a Christian shrine, but one still can see the validity in the pilgrims’ interpretation over the artist’s.

Among visitors to the site was a consensus that whoever created the image, he or she did a masterful job, and it ought to be left right where it is. The idea of people celebrating street art and wishing to preserve it is also unusual. Perhaps these pilgrims see something uncharacteristically touching and powerful in Maki105’s work (the complete opposite of the derisive sarcasm intended by the artist) and want it saved.

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