Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Converted Church

Zecc Architects - Converted chapel, Utrecht, Netherlands

Buildings within Buildings

Porziuncola in Santa Maria degli Angel, near Assisi, Italy
Porziuncola in Santa Maria degli Angel, near Assisi, Italy (interior)
Bornhouse Chapel, St Stae Church, Venice, 2009
Andrei Tarkovsky, Scene from Nostalghia
Jan Martense Schenck House, 1891, Brooklyn Museum 
RETREAT Exhibition At KunstFort Asperen Curated By Ben Van Berkel & Caroline Bos / UNStudio

Shrine to St John the Baptist, Umayyad Mosque, Damascus

Byzantine Fresco Chapel, Menil Collection, Houston, Texas, 1997
Michael Landy, Semi Detached, Tate Britain, 2004

Chapel of Deaconesses by Marc Rolinet, Versailles, France
Louise Bourgeois, Precious Liquids, Installed in CPAC, Bordeaux, France, 1992
Theis & Khan Architects, 'Lumen' in United Reformed Church, London, 2009
Terunobu Fujimori, Beetles House, '1:1 - architects build small spaces' at Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2010
Studio Mumbai, In Between Architecture,  '1:1 - architects build small spaces' at Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2010
Studio Mumbai, In Between Architecture,  '1:1 - architects build small spaces' at Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2010

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Bill Viola, The Tristan Project and Interventions in the Architecture of Sacred Space

Bill Viola, Tristan's Ascension (2005) - Tristan Project, 2008. St Saviour's Church, Redfern

The installation of Bill Viola's Tristan Project in St Saviour's, Sydney in 2008 and St Carthage's Melbourne, 2010 dominates both sanctuaries with a large vertical screen onto which Firewoman, 2005 and Tristan's Ascension, 2005 are projected. The distinctively Romanesque revival architecture of St Saviour's Anglican, designed by architects A and C Blackett and built in 1885 is transformed into a theatrical space where the shallow chancel becomes the backdrop for Viola's artwork. St Carthage's Catholic Church has a similar plan with a slightly deeper chancel which is entirely obscured by the screen. Both installations are accompanied by Wagner's Gesamtkunstwerk on an elaborate surround sound system and the installation at St Carthage's can only be seen between 7pm and 10pm, when the Church is in complete darkness. 
As stirring and meditative the experience of viewing these projections can be, it is both significant and perhaps even essential that the encounter takes place in an active sacred space. The invitation to view the work in the context of liturgical space carries an expectation that the beholder would fully participate in the ritual-architectural experience. This full participation requires that any encounter between architecture and beholder is prepared to leave both the space and the person changed. In the traditional model of ritual-architectural experience, the individual is immersed in liturgical action and multi-sensory experience which have the implicit intention of evoking a sense of being in the presence of God. Already the space anticipates the cooperation of individual, ritual and architecture in shaping an understanding of how God might be felt and understood and the treatment of immersion in fire and ascension in Viola's work intensifies this experience. The entire space is already charged with prayer, devotion and a spirituality that recognises the divine in the midst of our being. The issue that I take up with the work is the extent to which it sensitively integrates the liturgical function of the space and engages with the architecture. Sacred space does more than simply provide an alternative backdrop for the staging of an artwork, performance or time-based installation. The sanctuary is loaded with meaning as the height and summit of religious significance within the space and for both Anglicans and Catholics, is the holy residence of the Eucharist - the incarnate God made flesh. Any object placed in this space will by default be challenging or reaffirming the attention awarded to the Eucharist. The installation of the vertical screen conceals the location of the tabernacle in a similar manner to the iconostasis in Orthodox space - a screen which divides the nave from the sanctuary and amplifies the mystery of the divine. Traditionally, the entrance to the sanctuary in an Orthodox Church is flanked by icons of the Archangels, Saints and perhaps most commonly, the Annunciation. The distinct separation of the congregation from the liturgical space for the Eucharist and consecration is given by a narrative representation of the Gospel and depiction of the saints. Viola's projection of Firewoman and Tristan's Ascension also functions as a screen separating the two distinct spaces with the representation of a narrative. In the case of Tristan's Ascension, Viola's narrative takes the twelfth century myth of Tristan and Isolde, whose love was so profound that to be realised was for them both to transcend life itself. Fittingly, it is the theme of Wagner's epic three act opera from which extracts are taken for the soundscape in both Churches. Given the location of both screens, the work cannot avoid making a statement about the action that takes place at the altar. Rather than functioning as iconostasis or entrance to the sanctuary, the screen is a barrier. Viola's work would have been better served in the body of the church rather than the sanctuary and could possibly have been more sensitively integrated into the architectural fabric of the space. I am surprised that Viola has not explored the potential for projecting on semi-transparent screens or projecting adjusted and modified images directly onto the architecture.   

Bill Viola, Firewoman (2005) - Tristan Project, 2008. St Saviour's Church, Redfern, Sydney, Australia

Friday, October 8, 2010

Shinji Turner-Yamamoto's Hanging Garden

Shinji Turner-Yamamoto, Hanging Gardens, Holy Cross Church, Mt Adams, Cincinnati, 2010

'Crucible' at Gloucester Cathedral

Damien Hirst, St Bartholomew - Exquisite Pain

Clochard by Ralph Brown

Antony Gormley, Close V

Don Brown, Yoko XIX 
David Mach, Calvary

Marc Quinn, Waiting for Godot

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Contemporary Art in Sacred Spaces

 Antony Gormley, Sound II, Winchester Cathedral

Hans Dragosits - Sanctus in der Herzenswunde Jesu, Herz Jesu Kirche, 1992

Igor Mitaraj - John the Baptist in basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli in Rome, 2006

Heather Ackroyd and Dan Harvey, Dilston Grove, London

Susan Stockwell - Flood, York St. Mary's, York, 2010

Florence Chevalier, Singuliers voyages 2003 - installation in the chapel of Chamarande castle

Angela Wright, 189 Miles, wool installation, 2009 - All Hallows on the Wall, London

Angela Wright, 189 Miles, wool installation, Bradford Cathedral, 2010

Richard Gilbert, Envisage, 2010 - All Hallows on the Wall, London

Mark Alexander Mannheim Altarpiece, St Paul's Cathedral, London, 2008

Damien Hirst, New Religion, 2007 -  All Hallows on the Wall, London

Antony Gormley, Flare II in the staircase of St Paul's Cathedral, London. 2010

 Henry Moore, Madonna and Child, St Matthew's, North Hampton

Alexandre Farto, Wall, Italy

Sankt Peter Kunst Station, Köln, Germany

Florence Trust at St Saviour's Church, Highbury, London

 Robert Currie - 8 hours, 18 minutes, and 33 seconds

 Owen Johnson, Drum solo No1 
sand, speaker, amplifier, microphone, plastic foot drum 2008

 Owen Johnson, Drum solo No1 
sand, speaker, amplifier, microphone, plastic foot drum 2008

Derek Boshier, 99 cent War Installation, 2005