Stairway to Heaven?
The sculpture, by Spanish artist Eugenio Merino (Madrid, 1975), represents a Muslim worshipper, a Catholic priest and a Rabbi. The three of them are immortalized in the act of praying, each one in his own fashion: the Muslim bending, the Catholic kneeling and the Jew standing. The piece comes with the controversial title “Stairway to Heaven”. To a closer look, we see that the books of the three religions are inverted: the Jew prays with a Koran, the Christian with a Torah ( תורה ), and the Muslim with a Bible.
The artist obviously defends his work: “It is not a work of art meant to offend. My idea is the coexistence of the three religions, joint in a common effort to reach God, in a literally way. I think the message is positive.”
- Is the sculpture anti-Semitic, because it suggests once again the stereotype of the Jewish people ruling the world, standing on top of the column, closer to God? Or should that be taken as a compliment?
- Maybe the sculpture is anti-Islamic, since the Muslim is crushed at the end of the pile. Or should that be taken as a compliment, meaning that Islam is at the base of world religions?
- And what about poor old Catholicism, squeezed in the middle, the eyes closed? Or maybe the column is not meant to suggest a hierarchy?
How should we read this piece?