Monday, April 29, 2013

Resurection of the Difference

From the "Other" to the "Us"

"We all become living specimens under the spectral light of ethnology, or of anti-ethnology which is only the pure form of triumphal ethnology, under the sign of dead differences, and of the resurrection of difference." Baudrillard.

                         Jean Fouquet, Melun Diptych.
We exist in the real because we identify the unreal. By describing, discovering/uncovering the "Other" we define ourselves. But how does this relate to religious imagery and more specifically, to Virgin Mary? In the following I will apply Jean Baudrillard's philosophy (or my understanding of his philosophy) in collaboration with my Religious Studies to understanding the multiplicity of the imagery of Virgin Mary and its massive (re)production.  

Representations of Virgin Mary (from paintings to statues) are "real" because they are physical manifestations (constructed by society) of the ideal woman. The paintings and sculptures that become sacred are real because they are signs or symbols that hold "dead differences." In other words, we construct Virgin Mary by establishing her as the Other. We construct differences between ourselves and Her. 
     -She is what we are not.
     -She is who we want to be, or from a patriarchal (and sexist) perspective what males want women to be.
     -we cannot be like her.
     -Social punishment happens to those who do not follow Virgin Mary's example.

Virgin Mary is real because we need to establish what we are not in order to prove that we exist. Nevertheless, when we describe her, imagine her, think of her... we create her based on what we want her to be, or most likely, what we need her to  be (that which we usually are not, or that which we want to be).

Her image is "real" then, because it becomes Her, a manifestation of the ideal woman or ideal self.

I have developed a sort of thesis that is clearly influenced by my experience in Mexico and Catholicism. Where Our Lady of Guadalupe has a strong presence and importance. But this does not mean that cannot be applied to other countries (Italy's Maddona is one example) and their reproduction of religious images and statues. 

Where do we go from here?

To Google Search "Sexy Virgin Mary." But actually. I highly recommend it. You will be surprised at what you will find. The representations of Virgin Mary in the United States and perhaps other more liberal or non-Catholic countries can be very challenging to the conservative representation of Our Holy Virgin Mary. You can find artist's representations of Virgin Mary that present just the opposite to what you can think of that relates to the biblical Mary mother of Jesus.

... the list goes on

In other words, you get something like this:

                    Joe Coleman, Virgin Mary.

To me, any representation of Mother Virgin Mary is "true" to its creator. Whether it is a collective construction or an individual's. This allows and motivates anybody, who is interested enough, to come up with whatever "Virgin Mary" they want to create.

This is where the other element fits in: the rapid mass production of pop cultural representations of Mary.

To avoid getting into another topic I will just add that as a response to all these observations and problems I came across when thinking about this project I produced the following video:

Making Mary Mother

Here it is again in YouTube.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Simulating Religious Imagery

I am finding new thins that I relate to my art. I do not know how this inspires me yet, but I want to share it here and wait to see if it affects my development as an artist in future projects.

<p>Josh Iguchi (1964- ), <em>The Last Supper</em>, 1995; Ektacolor photograph, 48 x 96 inches (Frame: 58 x 106 inches); Gift of Wade Stevenson, 1998</p>
Josh Iguchi, The Last Supper (1995).

I found the picture here: 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Bill Viola's Artless Art

How can art be artless?

                                                                           Bill Viola, Becoming Light (2005)

The answer is simple, create art without restricting yourself. Use the media, the tools you have and do, create, be creative. Or at least that is what I think Bill Viola is trying to say. He has an understanding of the world that he obtained through understanding himself and who he is in connection to others.

In his lecture at Lawrence University he talked about two things that resonated with me. One is the importance of technology in our generation and how it is just a tool that can be used for the "good, or the bad." Viola states that we have been using technology for the wrong things and he encourages us to give it a new purpose and to teach the older generations how to stop "screwing it up." I have read McLuhan's emphasis on the media and how "the medium is the message." I am reading Jean Baudrillard's Simulations and his focus on the masking of reality through media, transforming our world into a simulated reality. I was processing all of this into a negative feeling against technology and the media. Nevertheless, after listening to Bill Viola's comment that technology just exists and what matters is how we use it, I started to question how I relate to the media. I cannot focus on my discontent of technology (specially because I use it every day), but in the way we use it for things that I do not appreciate. This gives a new direction to my artistic development.

The second thing that Viola mentioned in his lecture that interested me is his muse or inspiration, Religion. I am interested in the role of religion in human life. Viola prefers to call it spirituality, I still think he is referring to an aspect of religion. He has traveled and studied different religions capturing religious traditions. He presents religious views that can be labeled somewhat Buddhist, but that does not matter because it is about the message and spirituality, not about the religious institution or denomination. I am inspired by the way he connects his religious views to his art.

Here is the work that most fascinated me:
                                                                                         Bill Viola, Emergence (2002).

Link to YouTube video of Viola's Emergence: YouTube video

Monday, April 15, 2013

Religious Simulacra

Religion, Religion, Religion 

Religious Imagery

Religious Imagery has been used and over-used for almost any purpose that might not even be religious. The phenomena that interests me is the power these images might have over people. Artists have been inspired by religion, or I dare to argue, Religion has been inspired by art. One way or the other, religious imagery and iconography have been expressed through different media such as the 12th Century Italian painting of the Virgin Mary (The Madonna as Advocate), to the 2002 high-definition video inspired bythe representation of the placing of Jesus Christ in the tomb, Emergence, by Bill Viola (you can find the video here: YouTube).

An interesting phenomena occurs when religious images are reproduced in various and infinite ways. The images become the "real" thing and not what they represent. Jean Baudrillard's Simulations develops this concept further.

I originally wanted to capture the idea that a portrait of religious figure becomes that which it is trying to represent. In other words, a portrait of the Virgin Mary becomes the Virgin Mary in the sense that people attribute sentimental and some times spiritual value to such portrait. One of many examples if the painting of the Virgin of Guadalupe which is now The "Mother of the Americas" (Latin America) and holds more than a religious value, becoming a religion of its own or a cult where the Virgin of Guadalupe is more important than the Catholic God Himself.

In the following still I tried to convey the idea that any picture can become the "real" representation of the Virgin Mary as long as the right conditions (institutionalized propaganda from the Vatican, a religious narrative, and a group of faithful worshipers) were presented.

Here is my first attempt to capture the New Holy Virgin Mary:

Holy Virgin Mary's Secret
Model: Katy Abdul

Pictures in:

To be honest it did not work. There could not be found any relationship with Virgin Mary so I had to take a new set of pictures. 

I stumbled upon a picture of Miles Aldrige that inspired me and gave me a new direction. 
  ImmaculĂ©e by Miles Aldrige

I captured images that spoke on my behalf, but the images themselves have a language of their own and are not limited to my own interpretation. 

So here is my second attempt to capture my version of Virgin Mary:

Holy Mother Virgin Mary
Model: Katy Abdul

Pictures in:

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Sonja Thomsen

The Artist's Art 

   I have always wondered about the relationship between the artist and his or her art and what is the importance of this bond. As an artist Sonja Thomsen has inspired me to think harder about what my art means to me. 

    Her photography is more than the subject matter, more than the process, it is herself. At least that is what I observed about her when she was giving her lecture at Lawrence University. When she thinks of a concept she starts by thinking what is her relation to that concept, she engages with the process always relating it to herself creating wonderful pieces that engage her audience not only at a psychological level but also at a physical level. 

    I am looking forward to apply these ideas to my own artistic development.