The cover art of Halsey’s new album If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power certainly generated a lot of attention upon its reveal, largely because it’s so revealing, specifically as it pertains to Halsey’s body. Now it has drawn a bit of criticism, as there’s at least one writer who views the art as cultural appropriation of the Catholic church.
A piece written by Portia Berry-Kilby for The Spectator lays out the accusations, reading in part:
“The American singer’s album was released last week and the cover depicts her and a baby in a pose resembling Fouquet’s Virgin And Child, bare boob and all. Aside from the grandiose nature of this gesture — to put oneself in the place of the Mother of God requires some hubris — such role play is not, in and of itself, first-degree blasphemy. Of course, girls and women worldwide play the role of Mary — just think of the school hall Christmas nativity. But such performances usually communicate the beauty of the Incarnation. Halsey, however, isn’t interested in such innocent symbolism. […]
Halsey exemplifies the disregard that today’s pop culture shows towards the core tenets of Catholicism. Yes, Jesus died for us all. But he didn’t die for us so that we could all free the nipple and strike a pose as His Blessed Virgin Mother.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for high art filtering into low culture. I’m not, however, so keen on a constant dumbing down of The Good Stuff so as to cater to the crass tastes of the day. And when it comes to Halsey’s latest album cover, the end result is not so much artistic fusion as it is a flagrant appropriation of the sacred.”
Halsey caught wind of this on Twitter and made her silent argument by sharing a childhood photo of herself. Based on her outfit and apparent age in the photo, it appears the photo is from Halsey’s first communion or confirmation, two sacraments of initiation in the Catholic church. The implication being made, it would seem, is that Halsey doesn’t believe she is appropriating Catholicism, since she herself had a Catholic upbringing.
Meanwhile, Halsey recently expressed annoyance at how some in the music industry handled her pregnancy.