Human blood is set to “soak” the Vatican in a protest inspired by the late singer Sinead O’Connor.
Dissident Russian artist Andrei Molodkin has created a sculpture he plans to fill with blood donated by victims of abuse in the Catholic Church, which he says he will project on to the gates of the historic city – the home of the Pope.
Molodkin – who made headlines after selling blood-soaked copies of Prince Harry’s memoir earlier this year – says he expects Catholics to be offended by his latest stunt but insists: “It doesn’t bother me.”
He believes there will be outrage similar to that caused by O’Connor when she ripped up an image of Pope John Paul II while performing live on US television.
Molodkin says the Irish star’s career was “totally ruined” by her protest against abuse in the Catholic Church in 1992 but since her death in July, she has been hailed a “hero”.
“It’s inspired me,” he told Sky News. “I feel really emotional about it as she’s such a great and talented singer.
“Her career was totally ruined and people tried to forget about her. Now, after her death, everyone’s speaking about it… like an example of a hero.”
Molodkin has created a sculpture of the Keys of Heaven, the emblem of the papacy.
Sculpture ‘ready to receive blood’
The artist, who lives in France, says he will need between 30 to 40 donors to fill the sculpture with blood before he will project it on to the gates of the Vatican around the end of September.
He says a priest who was abused within the Catholic Church is willing to donate blood for the artwork – and hopes other survivors among the “thousands and thousands” of victims will take part.
“The sculpture is ready to receive the blood of people abused by the Catholic Church, to give them a voice,” he said.
Asked how he thinks people in the Vatican will react, he replied: “I think they will be shocked and surprised about it.
“To see this sacred symbol… with the blood of abused people, it will be surprising.”
Asked whether it will offend Catholics, he said: “It doesn’t bother me but I believe it will offend because the power of the Catholic Church is still great now.
“I believe… I just give a platform for people who were abused to participate.
“I didn’t destroy anything. I just give people a formal voice to speak about it.”
The controversial artist who uses blood and oil to make his point
- To coincide with the World Cup in Qatar last December, Andrei Molodkin unveiled a replica of the World Cup trophy that slowly filled with crude oil. It had a symbolic price of $150m – a figure that matched the amount of money allegedly spent on bribes and kickbacks to FIFA officials
- Last August, Molodkin presented a sculpture of the White House that reportedly contained the radioactive blood of Nagasaki-born men to commemorate the 77th anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs
- In May last year, Molodkin showcased a glass portrait of Vladimir Putin which was filled with the blood of Ukrainian soldiers. An image of the artwork was said to have been live-streamed near Moscow’s Red Square as Mr Putin oversaw Russia’s Victory Day parade
- Back in 2013, Molodkin opened an exhibition called Catholic Blood that featured an installation where he pumped blood donated solely by Catholics around his replica of the Rose Window at Westminster Abbey, which he saw as a Protestant symbol
Artist protesting against ‘powerful’ church
Molodkin said he had chosen to protest against abuse in the Catholic Church because it was a “powerful organisation” with “many dark secrets”.
The title of the project is “gate of the Vatican soaked in the blood of people abused by the Catholic Church”, he added.
Molodkin previously projected a sculpture filled the blood of Afghans on to St Paul’s Cathedral in a protest over Prince Harry’s remarks in his memoir Spare.
Harry faced criticism for revealing in his memoir that he killed 25 Taliban fighters while serving in Afghanistan. He wrote that it “wasn’t a number that gave me any satisfaction… but neither was it a number that made me feel ashamed”.
The prince also admitted that he did not think of those he killed as “people”, but instead as “chess pieces” that had been taken off the board.
Molodkin said Harry’s representatives tried to contact him after he put blood-soaked copies of Spare on sale.
“We tried to avoid any contact (so) not to disrupt the project,” the artist said.
He said 16 copies of the blood-soaked copies of Spare were sold for $10,000 each, with the proceeds going to organisations that help Afghani migrants.
Why Russian artist works with blood
Andrei Molodkin says he uses human blood in his artwork following the suicide of his friend while they served in the Soviet Army.
The dissident Russian artist says he spent two years in the military in his 20s – during which time he said his friend “shot himself in the heart”.
“My friend was quite seriously abused by the commanders,” Molokin told Sky News. “They punished him.
“During a mission, he shot himself in the heart.
“When we go to eat in the morning, 7 o’clock, two people drained him by the tent. Then on the road, there was a huge line of the blood.
“Then we were just working by this line, quietly.
“He was like a used machine… not human anymore.
“He was my good friend.”
Molodkin says his time in the military in the 1980s has helped him understand the dangers of war.
“From my own experience, I understand you start to become an instrument of a power structure that destroys anything and you are not yourself anymore,” he added.
Sky News approached the Holy See, the government of the Catholic Church, which operates from Vatican City, about Molodkin’s planned stunt but did not receive a response.