Reporting Luis Prada
Have you heard of a painting called “Ecce Homo” (“Behold the Man”)? It was produced by a Spanish artist named Elias Garcia Martinez just over a century ago, and is now housed in the Sanctuary of Mercy church in a small town in North-Eastern Spain called Borja. Here, check it out for yourself…
The painting captures the face of Jesus the moment he begins to roll his eyes as some co-op skeeze lectures him about how he should compost his apple cores. That’s what it looks like, at least. Whatever Jesus was supposed to be doing at the time, he would rather if it f***ed off.
If you’ve never heard of it, there’s a reason for that. According to this article from the U.K. newspaper The Independent, Ecce Homo isn’t a significant piece of art.
“Despite being a work of little artistic importance, and not part of any painting or altarpiece, it did have some local sentimental value.”
So why am I writing an article about a century-old work of art that no one really thinks much of, outside of some folks in a small Spanish town? Because in the irony-dominated, internet-controlled world we live in, which has been aided by the work of a misguided yet well-meaning old lady, Elias Garcia Martinez’s Ecce Homo has been given a second chance at gaining cultural significance. And here’s why…
By this July, damage had taken off the color and large chunks of paint were gone due to moisture exposure. Now, here’s how the painting looks today…
What was once a disinterested Jesus is now what a BBC correspondent described as a “crayon sketch of a very hairy monkey in an ill-fitting tunic.” This was the work of 85-year-old Cecilia Giménez, an amateur artist in Borja and a parishioner at the Sanctuary of Mercy church. Cecilia was upset about the deteriorated state of the painting, so she decided to lend a helping hand in its restoration. Meaning, she did it herself, without any official permission.
Once word of this restoration hit the internet, legions of irony lovers from all over the world came together to show their support of the new version of the painting. The day after news of the restoration broke, this petition went up on Change.org and quickly collected over 10,000 signatures (it’s now at nearly 23,000) from people demanding the painting be kept the way it is because, in their view, it is an “endearing and loving act, a clever reflection of the political and social situation of our time,” as well as being an inadvertent satirical critique of Creationism. You know, because of Jesus looking like he’s being consumed by an ape anus. Or something.
With the painting gaining all sorts of attention for being an ironically awesome hunk of poo, the tourists started pouring in to catch a real life glimpse of the painting people are now calling “Ecce Mono”, or “Behold the Ape.” So many Bermuda short-wearing tourists have shown up to see the painting that it had to be roped off and can now only be viewed from a distance, like the painting is a fragile boy with a weak immune system that must be given extra special care lest its ape anus integrity be sullied. Many tourists are even leaving flowers at Cecilia’s doorstep; an act that art historians will debate for decades as to whether or not it was genuine or sarcastic.
And now there’s a website called Ceciliaprize.com that encourages people to create their own hilarious restoration and tweet it out to a world eager to have this story co-opted by every meme-generating corner of the internet just so someone can draw a penis on it.
In less than a week this painting turned in to a joke that everyone’s in on, but it’s hard to tell who’s laughing and who’s just being an ass over a well-intentioned but ill-advised act of D.I.Y. by an 85-year old woman, who was bedridden due to anxiety attacks brought on by the sudden onslaught of media attention.
There seems to be a misunderstanding among irony-lovers out there as to where they should direct their ironic passions. Irony is the food that fuels the internet’s silly-ass actions, but once that fuel is used-up, the remains get crapped out. Faux-celebrities like, say, Kim Kardashian or Snooki, are more deserving of being processed through the bowels of the irony machine and dumped in to the toilet bowl of society because they aren’t offering anything to the world at large, other than filling the rest of us with a strange mixture of self-superiority (“I’m a much better person than her!”) and jealousy (“I’m a much better person than her, yet she gets money, fame, a weekly TV show, and her face on every magazine cover!”). There are people in this world far more deserving of our ironic attention than people that have no intention of being famous, but had fame tossed on to them and they tried to bat it away like it was a crazed raccoon. People like Cecilia Giménez who end up in the news because they’ve made a mistake aren’t looking for fame and fame’s subsequent mockery. Cecilia was just looking to lend a helping hand and, in the process, over-reached. Some attention is warranted here, no doubt. But using her mistake to further your atheist cause or to mock with poorly drawn wieners is the last thing an 85-year old church parishioner needs in her life.
But think of it this way: because of Cecilia, a piece of art that no one really gave a damn about has been spread far and wide across the world. Ecce Homo, in any of its states, wouldn’t have made it in to the Louvre, but now it’s a part of the public consciousness, and it has the (somewhat dubious) honor of being the most talked-about painting in the world today. Neither Elias Garcia Martinez or Cecilia Giménez could have possibly imagined anything like that could ever happen.
So, let’s just keep consuming and crapping the people that intentionally over-expose themselves for a quick shot at fame, and let’s leave alone the old ladies that make mistakes.
When not defending the well-intentioned, Luis savages the maleficent who should know better, like he did in How to Be a Modern Cable News Journalist in 8 Easy Steps. –>