Francesco Vezzoli has a flair for the dramatic and little reverence for the sacred. His often takes religious iconography or historical forms and casts them in the flashy lens of sex, celebrity, and consumption. There's one church he can't touch, however. 

The artist's show at MoMA PS1, “The Church of Vezzoli,” was supposed to feature a real church, dismantled brick by brick in Italy and reconstructed in the museum's courtyard. Due to legal issues, however, the show has been cancelled.

“All of a sudden, it all exploded, and I feel I was hit by a tornado,” Vezzoli told The New York Times. “I’m in a state of shock.”

Vezzoli is under investigation for exporting the cultural ruins without authorization. Although he purchased the church legally, under Italian law, the owners should have gotten permission from authorities before removing "the decorative elements from any historic building," according to the art superintendent of Calabria.

"The Church of Vezzoli" was supposed to be part three of Vezzoli's "The Trinity" tour. Part one, “Galleria Vezzoli” just closed this weekend at the MAXXI Museum in Rome, and part two, “Cinema Vezzoli” is scheduled to open in April at MoCA in LA. 

Klaus Biesenbach, the curator of PS1 who is currently scrambling to find someone to fill Vezzoli's space, claims that this controversy over the church is like “a real-time performance,” so maybe that can be the third arm of Vezzoli's Trinity. 

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[via The New York Times]