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Breaking ResemblanceThe Role of Religious Motifs in Contemporary Art$
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Alena Alexandrova

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780823274475

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823274475.001.0001

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Images between Religion and Art

Images between Religion and Art

(p.98) Chapter 4 Images between Religion and Art
Breaking Resemblance
Alena Alexandrova
Fordham University Press

This chapter discusses the different ways contemporary artists re-use religious motifs and the effects of such citations. In the majority of cases their artworks function as a context to turn that religion into a topic, and an object of discussion. The critical potential of contemporary artworks that deal with religious themes lies somewhere apart from art’s rejection or mocking of religion, as blasphemy retains its proximity to the specifically religious power of images. When contemporary artists reuse religious motifs they become counter-motifs. The interest in religion, in its various traditions and guises, indicates a desire for self-understanding by re-staging the past. The multifaceted relationship between contemporary art and religion is examined through a detailed discussion of twelve exhibitions organised between 1999 and 2010, which approach religion and religious art from a variety of perspectives. Many of the curators claim that they are emphatically not religious, nor trying to send a religious message. Including religion in the infrastructure of display associated with contemporary art creates a different visibility in the public space and asks questions concerning such visual practices as iconoclasm; the relationship between commercialism, mass media and religion, and the afterlife of religious art, among many others.

Keywords:   blasphemy, counter-motif, discontinuity, exhibitions, iconoclasm, incarnation, presentational device, profanation

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