Tag Archives: Christian

Buffing & Christianity

Recently I saw some Christian buffing in Coburg. What is “Christian buffing”?

Christian buffing Coburg cross

The painter had painted the whole wall except for a stencilled crucifix that had neatly been painted around; you can see the white paint splatters on top of the black spray paint. Buffing the crucifix was refused on religious grounds. It would be an act sacrilege for a Christian to erase a crucifix by painting over. It didn’t matter for the Christian buffer that the original stencil included the blasphemous remark “LOL”; that was removed in the buffing.Lol cruxifition

The issue of buffing is more complex that even I had thought; with this example raising the complex issue of iconoclasm. Iconoclasm is the religious or anti-religious destruction of religious images. The complexities and paradoxes of iconoclasm were explored at a symposium at Newman College that I attended in September last year. It covered iconoclasm from the Biblical to the Renaissance idea that early Christians had an antipathy to the visual arts and to the destruction of petroglyphs on the Burrup Peninsula. I’m sure that the political realities of buffing are more complex in a more religious place than Coburg. I should be writing an academic paper about this and not just a blog post – “iconoclasm and graffiti”, or “urban street iconoclasm”.

Christian buffing coburg whole wall

Meanwhile on the streets of Coburg, after the wall had been buffed someone else had added more graffiti and so the cycle goes on.

Other interesting piece of buffing, that I seen on Melbourne’s streets:


In a city lane there was buffing around an early Baby Guerrilla paste-up.

Altered buffing, unknown artist, Brunswick, 2011

Altered buffing, unknown artist, Brunswick, 2011



Contemporary Religious Art

Sculptor David Tucker for ‘A Local Girl Comes Home’ won the 57th Blake Prize for Religious Art. Hindu fertility goddesses inspire Tucker’s sculpture. It reminded me that I have seen art and exhibitions this year (and last) that have been influenced by other religions: Islam, New Age and Buddhist, but not Christian.

Contemporary Christianity now longer has the money to influence artists like it once did. Christianity has also lost the spiritual/philosophical/religious influence on the arts that it once had. Science, political theories and other religions now have a greater influence on the contemporary visual arts in Australia than Christianity. For example, RMIT gallery exhibited the “New Scientist Eureka Price for Science Photography”.

At the same time RMIT gallery had “Black Robe White Mist”, the art of Ōtagaki Rengetsu (17911875), a Japanese Buddhist nun, an artist, poet, calligrapher and potter. And Stephen McLaughlan Gallery showed Josie Telfer exhibition titled “Nine Waves” inspired by Zen Buddhism. The double layers of Telfer’s photographic images condense space and time in an attractive manner. The round glow of the moon creates a spotlight for a wave on a beach.

In contemporary art crucifixions are mostly blasphemous, piss-taking, jokes. Christianity is not an inspiration for contemporary art but a cultural chain to an ancient past impeding and restricting, often violently, current practice. Gordon Morrison, the Director of the Art Gallery of Ballarat is quoted in ‘Trouble’ (Sept.) that nudity is still taboo because of “that all-pervessiveness of the Juedo-Christian ethics that completely dominates us, for all of Norman Lindsey and what have you.’ (p.12)

Australian politicians still claim that Australia is a Christian culture but that requires both sophistry and the manipulation of statistics. It is clear that Christianity still has political influence in Australia and that historically it dominated the colonial era and early 20th Century. If Australia is a currently a Christian culture is odd that this is not evident in contemporary visual arts.

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