You may vaguely recall Andres Serrano. He’s the New York City photographer who willed himself to fame a couple decades ago with a now-infamous photo called “Piss Christ.” This 1987 image features a plastic figurine of Jesus Christ hanging on a cross which is submerged in a yellow liquid. Serrano claims the liquid is his very own urine.
For his “Piss Christ” efforts, Serrano won a $15,000 award sponsored in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, a federally-funded agency.
So what’s Serrano up to these days? Naturally, he is working for The New York Times.
Specifically, The New York Times magazine just sent Serrano to take photographs of shaggy, show-worthy Angora rabbits at the National Angora Show held inside a barn in Palmyra, N.Y.
At this annual event, dozens of breeders of Angora thoroughbreds meet to discuss the bunnies they love — and give names such as Alfredo, Hagrid and Shamwow.
“She looks like she’s dead, but she’s not,” breeder Ashley Shaw said of an Angora rabbit sitting quietly on her lap.
Serrano said he was impressed with the rabbits.
“The rabbits were good subjects,” he told his Times comrades. “They didn’t move much. They’re professionals.”
He also called the bushy bunnies “festive and surreal.”
The Times makes sure to impress upon its readers that the National Angora Show attendees were a bunch of rubes who had been awed the presence of Serrano — one of them big city photographers with one of them fancy cameras.
“He’s a cosmopolitan man!” National Angora Rabbit Breeders Club president Joan Hastings gushed, according to the big-city newspaper. “People don’t show up normally in slinky $300 shoes!”
Serrano, who said he felt as if he “was in an alien country” in Palmyra (pop. 7,975, about 25 miles from Rochester), lamented his own belief that he cannot make a living taking pictures of animals and children.
“I have this reputation of being a controversial artist, or a provocateur,” he said. “For me, I would love to take pictures of cats and dogs — nice portraits of cats and dogs and children.”
“But,” he said, perhaps with a sigh, “people expect something else of me.”
Serrano’s photographs frequently involve human discharge and other bodily fluids. In addition to urine, he claims to have worked with feces, menstrual blood and human breast milk.
A print of “Piss Christ” eventually sold for $277,000.
On Palm Sunday in 2011, angry French Catholics took hammers to another print in the southern city of Avignon.