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.


  1. well, besides your video not being linked on the post, I;d say your project came out beautifully. It's cool that you experimented with other ideas, but I love that you focused in on your original concept for this film. The audio is particularly enticing. I think you created a well-crafted video with a strong message.

  2. I really liked the video. It is a great step up from the first version, I really liked the use of the adulterated virgin Mary imagery. However, I felt that in a lot of places the transitions and were very jerky which really distracted me from the rest of the video. But this was as awesome execution of the idea.

  3. This is so much better than the first video you showed the class. The flashing images is much more powerful!

  4. Your video did a great job of exploring culture's many manifestations of the Virgin Mary. I especially liked the moment when Wriston becomes visible in the background and unveils another layer of artifice in the construction of her identity.