ARTS & CULTURE
12/11/2012 09:54 am ET | Updated Dec 11, 2012

Russia's Hermitage Museum Under Investigation For 'Blasphemous' Jake And Dinos Chapman Exhibit

A number of Russian Orthodox Christians are up in arms over an art exhibit currently on view at the country's State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. The perturbed citizens recently filed official "blasphemy" complaints with authorities concerning artwork by Jake and Dinos Chapman, prompting prosecutors to begin a full-fledged investigation into the British artists's museum display, reports Reuters.

The exhibit, titled "The End of Fun," includes a crucified figure of Ronald McDonald as well as characters arranged to resemble a swastika.

Over 100 official complaints of have been filed by disgruntled viewers since the exhibit's opening earlier this year. State prosecutors in Russia are currently reviewing whether or not the art violates a law against the incitement of hatred -- the very same law that landed two members of the feminist punk group Pussy Riot in jail.

The head of the Hermitage isn't remaining mum while accusations fly. "This [investigation] is an attempt to dictate conditions to us by mob rule and we should not allow this," said museum director Mikhail Piotrovsky to Reuters. "Art has its own language, one needs to understand it. If you don't get it, just step aside."

hermitage museum accused of blasphemy

An example of Jake and Dinos Chapman's work is this sculpture entitled "Sex;" the artwork was formerly on display at the Tate Britain in London.

The influence of traditional religious beliefs on the contemporary art realm has grown significantly since the trial of Pussy Riot. According to The Telegraph, Russian MPs have been calling for new legislation that would introduce prison sentences for anyone found guilty of "offending religious feelings."

This isn't the first time that a Russian museum director has found himself in the middle of a legal controversy with offended Orthodox Christians, however. In 2010, Moscow's Sakharov Museum was accused of inciting ethnic and religious hatred after featuring a painting of Jesus with a Micky Mouse head.

Let us know what you think of the battle over art in the comments section. Should Jake And Dinos Chapman's exhibit be put to rest or is this just another case of the marginalization of contemporary art in Russia?

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