Breaking Resemblance: The Role of Religious Motifs in Contemporary Art

Breaking Resemblance: The Role of Religious Motifs in Contemporary Art

Breaking Resemblance: The Role of Religious Motifs in Contemporary Art

Breaking Resemblance: The Role of Religious Motifs in Contemporary Art

Synopsis

In recent decades curators and artists have shown a distinct interest in religion, its different traditions, manifestations in public life, gestures and images. Breaking Resemblance explores the complex relationship between contemporary art and religion by focusing on the ways artists re-work religious motifs as a means to reflect critically on our desire to believe in images, on the history of seeing them, and on their double power-- iconic and political. It discusses a number of exhibitions that take religion as their central theme, and a selection of works by Bill Viola, Lawrence Malstaf, Victoria Reynolds, and Berlinde de Bruyckere--all of whom, in their respective ways and media, recycle religious motifs and iconography and whose works resonate with, or problematize the motif of, the true image.

Excerpt

Walking into one of the exhibition rooms of Bozar (the Palais des BeauxArts/Centre for Fine Arts) in Brussels in the autumn of 2010, I was puzzled by a sculptural work that offered a strangely familiar, yet enigmatic, image. Helix dhaaco, 2008, by Wim Delvoye (1965–), is part of a series of sculptures consisting of black crucifixes joined to one another in a chain and twisted to form a double helix (Figure 1). the work was included in his solo exhibition Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door, 2010–11, which also featured his laser-cut steel Gothic tower installed on the roof, a scale copy of a Gothic cathedral, and a series of sculptures consisting of similarly modified sculptural works. Religious art and architecture were the very “material” of Delvoye’s works, to be altered in a manner that demonstrates the use of advanced technology and craftsmanship. the bronze crucifixes were rendered in such way that they appeared flexible, and were twisted in a manner that can only be done to soft, yet strong, material. the blending of a crucifix and a dna model in Helix dhaaco alludes to two different definitions of the concepts of image and image-making, which converge into the motif of the true image, or acheiropoietos. Christ as the true image of God and the genetic “image” of man are, in their respective ways, not created . . .

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