Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Vatican Pavilion at modern art’s sacred cow

For most, the relationship existing between the Vatican, abode of some greatest ever masterpieces, and contemporary art is akin to oil & water; both simply don't mix.

Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, ‘culture minister’ of the Vatican wishes to alter that very perception. So the Holy See for the first time will have an exclusive pavilion at this year’s Venice Biennale, considered modern art’s sacred cow.
But do not expect anything, according to Reuters, which appears remotely liturgical or religious at the world-class exhibit, launched in 1895, taking place every alternate year on the Venice lagoon. Ravasi, formally the Pontifical Council for Culture’s president, and the Vatican Museums have opted to award contemporary art commissions, around a theme, allowing the artists work to their imaginations freely – sans any strings attached, moral or otherwise.

Ravasi has been quoted as saying, "They were not handed any specific themes like Mary or Jesus but just asked to artistically reflect on the first 11 chapters of Genesis since they’re essentially an apt portrait of humanity." It recounts the man and woman creation, Cain’s killing of his brother Abel, the Great Flood and also the scope for humanity to begin afresh after the water levels receded and the rainbow resurfaced.

The commissions were given to Studio Azzurro cooperative in Italy, Lawrence Carroll, an Australian-born American painter, and Josef Koudelka, a Czech photographer. Each of them produced works of art on the subject matter of ‘creation’, ‘un-creation’ and ‘re-creation’. The Vatican Museums director, Antonio Paolucci stated, "These are sentiments, which can be shared not just by believers, Roman Catholics, but also by members of other faiths and non-believers."

He added, "There’s no person who in her or his lifetime has not experienced high times, times of falling, defeat, depression, and phases of having to get back up and then start hoping again. These elements are indeed universal." The Vatican Pavilion at modern art’s sacred cow will be the one to watch out for…

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