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The Church of Scientology is distancing itself from an art exhibit purporting to be Scientology-related that features an image of a nude, well-endowed Tom Cruise.
“The Church has nothing to do with this publicity stunt, and any claim to the contrary is false,” church spokesperson Karin Pouw tells The Hollywood Reporter.
The exhibit, scheduled to open on Aug. 8th at the Corey Allen Contemporary Art gallery in St. Petersburg, FL, was announced Wednesday via press release.
In celebration of Tom Cruise’s 25th anniversary as a Scientologist, the release says, a “nude shroud of the actor” will be unveiled in a “Pop-Up Church of Scientology” at the gallery, which is located near the church’s headquarters in Clearwater Florida. The image was created by artist Daniel Edwards.
Neither Corey Allen, founder of the gallery, nor Edwards is a Scientologist. Allen tells THR that they had “sought sanction for the exhibit from the church but had not received a response.”
Modeled on the Shroud of Turin, believed by many to be the burial shroud of Jesus Christ, the “Shroud of Scientology” measures 14 feet long and 3 feet wide and depicts a silver image of a naked Cruise, with front and back views.
Cruise’s hands lay folded over the Scientology cross resting on his chest. Cruise’s elaborately groomed (and sizeable) genitals are also on display. The image is printed on poplin, a fabric used for religious shrouds since the 15th century.
Allen says the intention is for the gallery to be transformed into a simple pilgrimage site where visitors can come to pay respects, much like the site of the Shroud of Turin, where “thousands stream through a holy space to visit the object.” The exhibit will also feature other objects on display, such as a commemorative medal featuring Cruise’s profile.
In the press release, Edwards commented that, “Radiocarbon dating will never rule out the Shroud of Scientology’s authenticity. It exists as a document of Tom Cruise’s faith in Scientology — a photo negative of the radiance of his soul. It gives evidence for future generations that Tom Cruise not only belonged to Scientology, but saved it from obscurity.”
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