The Church of Secular Art, David Carrier, δημοσίευση στο Hyperallergic [3/1/2023]Marilena Pateraki
NAPLES, Italy — Most modernist art is essentially secular. To be sure, modernists displayed some interest in theosophical themes, and some abstract painters were concerned with quasi-religious contemplation. But mostly these were marginal concerns. Right now, however, art historians and writers ranging from James Elkins to Joseph Masheck to Joachim Pissarro have shown a great deal of new interest in contemporary sacred art. Bill Viola’s Ritorno alla Vita (Return to life) plays to that concern. Chiesa del Carminiello a Toledo is a relatively small, somewhat dusty church, founded for women who converted to Catholicism. It’s at the south end of the city’s Spanish Quarter, in a working-class neighborhood near the Neapolitan opera house. This project, organized by Vanitas Club, a religious charitable foundation in Italy, and Bill Viola Studio, includes five videos, all with no sound. On the left-side altar in a darkened building are “Earth Martyr” and “Air Martyr”; on the right are “Fire Martyr” and “Water Martyr.” Each is about seven minutes long, and all were made in 2014. Above the high altar is the nine-minute video “Three Women” (2008). Vanitas has organized other exhibitions with sacred themes in Milan and Naples by such varied contemporary artists as Shirin Neshat, Andy Warhol, and Marina Abramovic.
According to the exhibition catalogue, Viola is concerned with universal human experiences — birth, death, the development of consciousness — which are rooted in both Eastern and Western art; the website notes his interest in Zen Buddhism, Islamic Sufism, and Christian mysticism. In “Earth Martyr” a man emerges from burial in the earth, and in “Air Martyr” a woman hangs by her wrists from rope, her body blown around by a strong wind. “Fire Martyr” presents a sleeping seated man who begins to awaken as flames grow tall around him, a scene meant to represent his passage through death into the light; in “Water Martyr” a rope raises the same man by his ankles as the water rages. “Three Women” is the most complex of these narratives of suffering: a mother and her two daughters pass through a wall of water, meant to mark the boundary between life and death, before disappearing back into the mist.
Η συνέχεια εδώ.