Venice was the venue of a Swiss artist’s exhibit which consisted of a mosque-in-a-church. However, it was declared to be strictly off-limits to visitors by the authorities due to health and safety reasons.
An artist from Switzerland, Christoph Buchel constructed a beautiful mosque within a deconsecrated church in the city of Venice, Italy recently on the occasion of the Biennale. The project was Icelandic in origin. But it appears to be the case that many visitors have been forced to take a U-turn and return from the outer limits of the exhibit.
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It had been standing there in its splendor for the past 14 days but now a sign has been put outside that says that the entry to the exhibit is banned, according to TheArtNewspaper. The main purpose of this closure is to protect the health and safety of the inhabitants of Venice. That was because the number of visitors had been in excess of the holding capacity of the building and so it was declared to be a hazard.
Besides this, the appeal by the artist had been for an art project and not the construction of a mosque in a church. But the Icelandic Art Center which had funded the project has expressed its disapproval and sorrow at the attitude of the Venice Biennale officials. This platform which was meant for the free display of artistic works of beauty with an implicit message had failed its contributors by this repressive act.
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The reason of existence of the mosque-in-a-church project was to bring to light the prejudice and intolerance of fundamentalists and fanatics in various religions. And it also served to promote greater interfaith dialogue and harmony between various communities. But by banning visitors from this benign project, the Venice authorities had shown their true face which was prejudiced and ugly.