Venetian Officials Threaten To Close ‘THE MOSQUE’ - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Venetian Officials Threaten To Close ‘THE MOSQUE’

Published May 12, 2015

Anna Manning
Photos by
Bjarni Grímsson

Venetian officials have threatened to close the Icelandic exhibition, ‘THE MOSQUE’, after response by Catholic authorities, reports The Telegraph.

The installation is set in a decommissioned church that has been privately owned since 1973. Nonetheless, the Catholic Church insists it should have been consulted. “For any use other than Christian worship, authorisation must be sought from the ecclesiastical authorities, regardless of who is the owner of the church. Such authorisation, for this site, was neither requested nor granted,” announced the Venecian diocese.

Luigi Brugnaro a candidate in Venice’s next mayoral election called ‘THE MOSQUE’ a “mistaken initiative which was done without taking into account people’s feelings in Venice.” The city has stated that unless further permits are produced, it will be closed by May 20.

‘THE MOSQUE: The First Mosque in the Historic City of Venice’, is an installation by Swiss/Icelandic artist Christoph Büchel at the National Pavilion of Iceland at 56th Venice Biennale. Illugi Gunnarsson, Minister of Education, Science and Culture of Iceland, explained that the installation is a reflection on immigration and religious tolerance in Iceland.

“The Muslim Community in Iceland is an important voice in this dialogue, and it is my hope that the Icelandic contribution of THE MOSQUE to La Biennale di Venezia 56th International Art Exhibition, initiated by Christoph Büchel, will be a positive contribution to this dialogue on the international stage,” he said.

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