Brazil’s “queer museum,” forced to close last year after conservatives attacked it for allegedly promoting pedophilia, blasphemy and bestiality, is reopening in the shadow of Rio de Janeiro’s iconic Christ the Redeemer statue.
The Queermuseu, which features 200 works by 82 Brazilian artists, originally opened last year in the southern city of Porto Alegre but was forced to close by critics who accused it of attacking Christianity.
The enforced closure sent shockwaves through the artistic community and triggered debate about freedom of expression and a return of censorship, three decades after the end of the military dictatorship that ran the Latin American country from 1964-85.
A crowdfunding campaign raised more than a million reais ($275,000) allowing it to reopen for a month, with free admission, at the School for Visual Arts in Rio de Janeiro’s Parque Lage — a wooded parkland at the foot of the mountain topped by the renowned statue of Christ.
The series of fundraising events included a concert by the legendary musician Caetano Veloso. The curators picked the venue in the park after the city’s Evangelical mayor, Marcelo Crivella, banned the use of Rio’s Arts Museum for the show.
“It is a very important moment for Brazilian democracy, a convincing demonstration that the most progressive sectors of society will not accept censorship,” said curator Gaudencio Fidelis.
“We haven’t seen an act of censorship of this size and severity since the dictatorship,” he said.
In addition artwork, the exhibition features talks on sexual diversity and LGBT rights as well as musical shows by “queer” performers.
The exhibition is almost identical to the one forced to close in Porto Alegre, featuring the same provocative works that scandalized Brazilian conservatives.
They include a portrayal of Jesus as a monkey in the arms of the Virgin Mary, works illustrating sexual practices in the style of traditional Japanese erotic prints and paintings of clothed kids entitled “Gay Children.”
The images, including one of a multi-armed Jesus called “Crossing Jesus Christ Goddess Shiva,” infuriated the right-wing Free Brazil Movement, which lobbied for the show to be shuttered.
The revived exhibition, which opens to the public on Saturday, only admits visitors aged 14 years and over, and carries a warning at the entrance that it contains images of nudity.