Jesus, Hitler art banned by village; Stalin ok'd

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The municipality of Binnenmaas, Zuid-Holland has banned two works created by artist Dirk Hardy. The student of Academie Willem de Kooning in Rotterdam was invited by the municipality to exhibit his work at the town hall. While most work will be displayed as planned, the church has classified two pieces as "hurtful" and unsuitable for the public building, reported broadcaster NOS.

While Hardy was constructing his exhibition, titled "Clay," the municipality was discussing the appropriateness of the six pieces in the series. Following a veto from Binnenmast Mayor André Borgdorff, two works depicting Adolf Hitler and Jesus Christ were ordered to be removed from the display. In a comment, the church stated that the "unsolicited artwork" can be "perceived as offensive by some of our people" when they attend the town hall for administrative matters. Hardy told the broadcaster he is "dismayed" by the municipality's decision. The series is comprised of six pictures depicting Jesus, Hitler, Stalin, Napoleon, Tom Cruise and the artist in the same setting. Hardy's work has a clear message. "I want my work to show different ideologies through the same images. The last picture is myself as a cleaner. I represent the people that ultimately have to clean up the mess". Despite the intentional sameness of the six images, only those of Jesus and Hitler have been deemed offensive. The remaining four pieces are currently on display. One of the removed images depicts Nazi leader Adolf Hitler on a podium, in front of a likeness of the Brandenburg gate, addressing an attentive and supporting audience. The picture resembles the infamous addresses of the Nazi leader to masses before and during World War Two. Meanwhile, one image deemed appropriate shows Tom Cruise at a podium adorned with the Church of Scientology logo, addressing a crowd waving American flags, in front of white columns,a globe and a portrait of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.

Labour Party Leader Jan Maarten has expressed discontent with this level of censorship and the decision to remove the works. The politician has described the move as a "violation of artistic , freedom", particularly abhorrent in light of the recent promotion of freedom of press and speech across the Netherlands. He has said he will push for a reviewing council meeting, and possibly a discussion in Parliament.

Additional reporting by Taneli Savela.