The anonymous artist working under the name Horge was arrested and charged with public offense to religion for putting up satirical posters at various bus stops throughout Rome over the summer, Christine Ro of Hyperallergic reports. The artist may be fined up to $5,800 and may face a maximum of two years in prison if he is found guilty of the crime.
Among the offending posters are Horge’s “Ecce homo erectus,” which features an image of Jesus with an erection as he puts his hand on the head of a kneeling child, and his collaborator doublewhY’s “Immacolata conception in vitro,” which depicts two women holding a baby while one of them flips off the viewer. doublewhY has not been identified.
Horge, who prefers the term “subvertiser” to artist, created the poster in response to the recent sexual abuse allegations against Cardinal George Pell in the latter’s native country of Australia. As the third highest-ranking Vatican official, Pell is the most senior representative of the Catholic Church to be accused of sexual misconduct. He denies any wrongdoing.
While organizations such as Italy’s Union of Rationalist Atheists and Agnostics are campaigning to abolish the country’s blasphemy laws, they are still sporadically enforced. According to Horge, the police were urged to take action by right-wing politician Fabrizio Ghera, who called for the transportation official in charge of advertising to step down shortly after the posters appeared.