Friday, March 16, 2012

Luke and You Shall Find

Lean and mean, 2010 collage

On Wednesday of last week, I sat at a table in the basement of Beacon's First Presbyterian Church.  I wasn't alone.   Around the table sat a small group of artists, both from within the church's community and from without.  The occasion was an initial meeting of folks who will be participating in a discussion group/ art project revolving around a shared reading and interpretation of the Gospel of Luke. 
This project, "Who Do You Say That I Am?" - so named by Pastor Ben Larson-Wolbrink is intended to be the first of a series of collaborative/interactive projects bringing together various members of Beacon's community to discuss faith, ecumenical texts, and to build a broader community interaction - creatively. 
One of the catalysts credited in the creation of this kind of interactive project was the controversy spawned by a few of Ron English's works featured in the 2010 Electric Windows project.  The work that raised the most hackles entailed references to Christ or Christianity including crucifixion replete with product logos.  Pointed satire of social, commercial and bureaucratic norms of this country is at the hear of English's work, and the work seen as objectionable by some was very much in keeping with this sensibility. In a search, I couldn't find the offending images.....I did snap this photo of the artist standing before one of his less controversial works that day of the Electric Windows.

Ron English in front of one of his works at the Roundhouse in Beacon, NY during Electric Windows 2010.
I think the way in which this instance works into the impetus to instigate a project like this one being hosted at the First Presbyterian Church is to open a channel of communication where sensitive subjects might be engaged with in a more thoughtful manner.

Elia Gurna introduced me to this project and I was immediately intrigued by the chance to share in a process that approaches a subject of deep meaning in an interpretive, discursive environment.

This kind of project seduces me every time - a chance to experience and interpret a text or a "constant" and then watch the variety of participants' interpretations that manifest.  It's a mainline that whisks me back to Mr Pickering's AP English class and the open forum projects (films, artworks, etc) that he fostered.  I guess I can connect my predilection for interactive creative processes back to Pickering's class - and perhaps it offers me the kind of hothouse environment I subconsciously feel I missed out on by not finishing college...But that's another story - one that is reaching it's 20th anniversary this year.

In addition to reading the text of Luke, I've downloaded an audio version which I intend to play several times over with the thought of what might squeeze out.  I've also found some audio versions in greek (one of them is painfully, but amusingly read by a non greek speaker) in which I intend to immerse myself.  Of course, I don't know a whit of, but why not at least try to get as close to the source as possible.

Finally, for folks who might come here and find the image at the top of the post as objectionable.  I agree.  It's a response to what I see as an objectional exploitation and idolatrous use of Jesus Christ as a kitschy shill for branding an organization's efforts -even non profit ones.  The images of JC used in the Namesake group are all culled from fundraising solicitation material sent to Angelika, since she's such a charitable soul.....and that charitable nature has been commoditized and traded on the Non-Profit-Solicitation-Market in the hopes that she might also contribute to any of the sundry organizations that view themselves as deserving as any other.

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