Lene Adler-Petersen (1944-) and Bjørn Nørgaard (1947-), From the series The Female Christ, 1969
The constant transgression of the boundaries of art in the 1960s took a form – actions, happenings, and performances – which means that significant portions of the era’s art now exists only as filmed or photographic records of the events.
The picture of The Female Christ comes from Lene Adler Petersen and Bjørn Nørgaard’s famous political action, carried out on 29 May 1969 at 15.30. At that time, Lene Adler Petersen walked through the Copenhagen Stock Exchange nude and carrying a cross. This picture shows the final stages of the event where the woman takes the last steps out of the picture, the cross lowered in her left hand.
With this Christian symbolism, the action referred to the Biblical tale of Christ driving out the merchants from the temple, reinterpreting the tale to create a criticism of contemporary reality. As a radical, anarchistic contrast to the prevalent capitalist and patriarchal culture – i.e. a world obsessed with material goods and financial power – the naked woman with the cross represented the erotic and the sacred.
A modern icon
The action had a tremendous impact on the public of the day, and the picture has become a modern icon. This iconic status owes much to the fact that it circulated in the printed media, and the offset printing technique itself, engineered for mass production as it is, refers to a modern, media-conscious reality.