Breakdancing Jesus

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Breakdancing Jesus

Selected from an impressive field of entries following an open competition, Cosom Sarson’s Breakdancing Jesus mural attracted significant public and press interest on its unveiling, being covered widely by the local and national media as well as being featured in publications from as far a field as America, India and Pakistan.

Initially inspired by an actual event in the Vatican where break-dancers performed on the floor for Pope John Paul II, Cosmo took an image of the performance and developed it into a challenging artwork that raises questions about both cultural identity as well as the role of organised religions in contemporary society.

Throughout history the image of Jesus has been used to convey a wide range of messages and to ask questions about the society of the time and this artwork is no different. Thus as a standalone image, the artwork has a robust validity and forms part of a cannon of artistic depictions of Jesus dating back nearly two thousand years.

However, when taken off the canvass and recreated on this scale, and in this location, like all great works of public art, the context adds further layers of narrative and meaning to the work.

In this context this work is about the celebration of difference, the celebration of the other, of the joy of the collisions and interactions of different cultures, it is a celebration of unity, togetherness, and tolerance.

In this context the figure of Jesus comes to represent white, western culture whilst the breakdancing represents new world, Afro-Carribean culture, and in taking on this symbolism this work celebrates the bringing together of the two and it celebrates how one culture can learn from the other.

In terms of the physicality of the city it also becomes a celebration of the space where the historically white areas of Bristol, which were home to the merchants and traders of the past (the areas of Clifton, Kingsdown etc.) meet the areas of the city that have historically been the home of the Afro-Caribbean community (St. Pauls etc.), and where those areas and those cultures meet geographically is Stokes Croft.

Stokes Croft is the point of interface between these communities and it’s the boundary that separates them. This work celebrates the blending of these cultures and the dismantling of that historic separation; it could not be more appropriate in its setting or its context, either economically, socially or emotionally.

Breakdancing Jesus is an outstanding work that represents many of the great things that this city should be rightfully proud of; it draws on, links into and celebrates the city’s proud history of religious tolerance, our incredible cultural diversity and our vibrant creativity. It is a great work of art, of great symbolism, that celebrates the great values of this city, and is a work of which we can all be proud.


Sean Redmond,
Creative Director at the Facade Gallery.

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