Art duo who sparked ire of traditional Christian group to return to city

Rev David McIlveen said he would 'undoubtedly' express opposition to the exhibition

An exhibition is to begin in Belfast this week by two artists whose work sparked criticism from a group of traditionalist Christians when it last appeared in the city.

The free show, by elderly British-based duo Gilbert and George, is titled ‘Scapegoating Pictures’, and runs at Belfast’s MAC centre from this Thursday until April 22.

The last time they exhibited in the city was about 20 years ago at the Belfast Arts Festival when, according to a BBC report from 1999, the show featured “naked portraits of themselves, plus human excrement and semen”.

At the time the Free Presbyterian Church’s Rev David McIlveen dubbed it “an assault upon decency and morality”; the duo themselves countered that the work had been appreciated by “men, women and children” alike.

A review of ‘Scapegoating Pictures’ by TimeOut magazine in 2013 said the show featured photo-montages, and included a piece which invites people to defecate in a pulpit, as well as “molest” a Muslim religious leader.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today Programme’, a daily news show which reaches upwards of seven million people per week, Rev McIlveen on Monday said he will “undoubtledly” express opposition to this latest exhibition, saying he feels a “responsibility” to do so – particularly as public money was used to support it.

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