Spanish artist faces prison over film made in 1978


One of Spain's leading underground artists is due to appear in court today facing up to a year in prison over a film short he made in 1978 on "how to cook Jesus Christ".

Javier Krahe has been taken to court by a Catholic legal association, the Centro Juridico Tomas Moro, for "offending religious feelings" – a little-known offence. The Catholic association says the law has never before been applied in Spanish legal history.

Banned under Spain's strict censorship laws in 1978, Krahe's 54-second film was finally broadcast on television in 2004 as the backdrop to an interview with the artist.

The film uses culinary language and images to show viewers how to "remove the nails and separate him from the crucifix, which we leave to one side" before the white ebony figure of Christ is shown being lightly smothered in butter, placed on a bed of aromatic herbs in a glass tray, and popped into an oven. Another culinary "guideline" recommends using a proportion of "one gaunt Christ" for each two potential diners.

"After three days inside, he comes out of the cooker by himself!" is the film's punchline as the oven door opens unassisted and the tray with the "cooked Christ" slides magically forwards.

Two previous attempts to prosecute Krahe over the film ended up being dropped, but this time the artist has finally been bailed for €192,000 (£153,000), and statements from witnesses in the case are due to be heard this morning in Madrid's Regional Court.

Krahe – who has sought to expose the darker and more hypocritical facets of Spanish society for nearly half a century through acerbic anti-establishment humour – said he considers the trial over a film he made 34 years ago, and its much later broadcast, to be absurd.

"How do you show that someone's religious feelings have been hurt?" he told El Pais newspaper. "I'm accused of a series of things that I haven't done. I don't appear on television cooking Christ, and I haven't ever used these images [in a performance]."

But in the same tongue-in-cheek tone he is known for, he also added that he had believed that Spain's crusading human-rights judge Baltasar Garzon, who was recently stripped of his judicial powers and position in a controversial wiretapping case, "was going to be cleared".