Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Saints Alive

Doubting Thomas
Back in 2010-11, Michael Landy was invited to be the National Gallery in London's artist-in-resident. It was a surprising choice. Landy is best known for his 2001 work Break Down in which he systematically destroyed all his possessions in a former department store on London's Oxford Street. What on earth was he going to come up with in an institution he hadn't been to since his college days?  It took him a while, but in the end he struck on the idea of reinterpreting the many saints depicted in the Gallery's Renaissance paintings and making kinetic sculptures out of them, (almost) literally bringing them to life. 
Most of the sculptures depict a saint in the act of martyrdom. They're both shocking and funny. And their interactiveness - Thomas poking his finger in Christ's wound, Saint Jerome bashing himself with a stone - really succeeds in connecting us with them.
Bringing an expanded version of the exhibition to Mexico City was a great idea (not mine I should add). What would a deeply Catholic country make of what could be seen as 'poking fun at religion'. We shall see. Anyway, it opened to the public today and the initial reaction has been very positive.

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