Interreligious Narratives and Contra-Religious Aesthetics in the Material Culture of Navarra, Northern Spain

By Moulin-Stozek, Daniel; Dulska, Anna K. | Cross Currents, September 2018 | Go to article overview

Interreligious Narratives and Contra-Religious Aesthetics in the Material Culture of Navarra, Northern Spain


Moulin-Stozek, Daniel, Dulska, Anna K., Cross Currents


Introduction

Material culture can contest religious narratives as much as it can constitute or support them. When the artist Abel Azcona exhibited a photograph of an installation of consecrated hosts spelling the word "Pederastia" (pederasty) in the Sala de Exposiciones (Exhibition room) in Pamplona's Monumento a Los Caidos (civil war memorial), it was met with uproar. Crowds of people gathered to protest this sacrilegious affront to their faith. In Phase One of the performance, Azcona surreptitiously smuggled 242 consecrated wafers from communion services, of which one video was uploaded on the Internet. (1) Subsequently, he then arranged them to spell various provocative words on the floors of art galleries in Madrid (Phase Two). For Phase Three, photographs of these installations were exhibited in the neo-classical memorial to the civil war nationalist commander, General Emilio Mola, that dominates the South-Eastern quarter of Pamplona. Originally given the official title, Navarra a sus Muertos en la Cruzada (Navarra to its killed in the Crusade), the building, erected in 1942, is now controversial, like other Franquist victory monuments, because it immortalizes only the nationalist dead.

Azcona's confrontational art is a striking example of how existing material culture can be used as a contextual foil for symbolic acts, and how art may represent, and rely upon, strong political positions for its meaning. The exhibition inverts the monument's original purpose by making the consecrated host spells out the profane. This also subverts the sensory experience of the host, by putting what should be placed on the tongue on the floor--in itself sacrilege.

Representing a strand of Spanish anticlericalism, this act was intended to critique the power of the Church and expose its historic ties with the Franco regime, thereby attacking the conservative Catholic faith of much of the population of Navarra. This temporary installation is a powerful, if not extreme, illustration of interreligious aesthetics, or more specifically, contra-religious aesthetics. Material culture may well follow, or innovate, according to artistic conventions that determine its visual and physical forms, but these aesthetic qualities are often invoked to subvert, contest, or sustain political power. Meanwhile, it intersects, in this case, with religious identity.

If mythology serves to sustain religious and political identity in the face of detractors and competitors, material culture provides for the physical and sensory representation of mythologized narratives. Using Navarra as a paradigmatic and well-defined microcosm, we explore further examples of Navarran material culture in order to consider the interreligious aesthetics of competition--the material manifestation of claims and vying counter-claims. Our examples might not be as extreme or provocative as Azcona's performance, yet they comprise solid and enduring symbols in the public and visual history of Navarra, and, as such, are more representative. Our analysis of this material culture shows how symbolic exchange provides the means for self-definition and contestation, which both represents political and religious positions, and at the same time produces a unique and rich material culture. We suggest that rather than posing a challenge to social harmony, competing claims and narratives represented in the aesthetics of art exhibitions, ritual practices, monuments, sacred sites, and museums enrich both art and society, providing the means by which religious identity may be defined, and giving impetus to the generation and regeneration of material culture in the process.

Material culture and the creation of a collective identity

Navarra, sometimes rendered Navarre in English, is an autonomous region of Spain which can trace its origins to the tenth-century Kingdom of Pamplona (the present-day capital of the region). (2) The political, economic, and cultural distinctiveness of the region, which differs significantly from the other, even neighboring Spanish regions, is represented in various monuments and symbols. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Interreligious Narratives and Contra-Religious Aesthetics in the Material Culture of Navarra, Northern Spain
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.