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Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Statement – Art Below: Stations of the Cross

Art Below's Stations of the Cross exhibition at St Stephen Walbrook has generated considerable media coverage. At today's press call, I shared the following statement about Ryan Callanan's 'Crucified Stormtrooper':

'I am interested in putting art exhibitions into churches because I recognise that artists, in their work, are seeking to explore the big philosophical questions in life. Questions like, who am I, where am I, why am I here and is there a God? The Church is also exploring those same questions and, therefore, there is potential for real connection between the Church, artists and those viewing the art in exploring those questions. We won't all come to the same conclusions or even to any conclusions but exploring the questions and living the questions is a profoundly spiritual thing to do.

To bring an artwork like 'Crucified Stormtrooper' into a church enables us to see key aspects of the Christian faith in new ways because it challenges the traditional ways in which we picture Christ. Stormtroopers are on the dark side and that perception equates to the Christian belief that we are all sinners. If we use the imagery opened up for us by 'Crucified Stormtrooper', then we can reflect that we are all on the dark side. We are all stormtroopers. The amazing message of love at the heart of Christianity is that God does something about that situation. God becomes one of us in Christ. He becomes a stormtrooper in order that, through his death, he can take the darkness onto himself and enable us to live in the light. That is the heartbeat of Christianity, which is changing people's lives on a daily basis around the world and it is brought to us in a new way by including this artwork in this exhibition.

This reflection is not what the artist intended when he made the piece. He was interested in juxtaposing incongruous images. But once he had put the stormtrooper on a cross, he made that reflection possible. For us to show this work in a church enables that reflection on Christ's love to be seen and shared in a new way and that is why it worthwhile for the Church to show art, especially controversial art, and to explore the questions that it opens up for us all.'

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Star Wars Main Theme.

1 comment:

John Oliver said...

Thank you Jon, for making this clear. Saddened that some folks find this artwork so hard to take, and so perhaps miss out an disturbing truth. Salaam shalom in al you seek to do.