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The Blessed Sacrilege
by Nora Geist :: You need to be a member to contact artists →Join :: Portfolio
A sinister and unholy triangle takes shape as the Abbess and the Countess discover a more intimate way to receive Holy Communion from the Saint (slides 1–5). 500 years later, following extensive redaction and research, the brief encounter is elevated, immortalised and commemorated by the Church (slide 6).
I was inspired by Jan Saudek’s technique of hand painting his black and white photos to add a grotesque, mortal quality to his subject matter. Using Photoshop, my assistant Clare Cross meticulously coloured each frame to ignite the characters and action with a mixture of playfulness, feverish passion and perverse exhibitionism, "entombing" the subjects in "the flesh". In the first five slides, the symbol of power—the phallus (represented by the Saint’s erection)—is at the centre of each snapshot, so much so that the Saint ‘becomes’ his cock: the women’s and the viewer’s eyes cannot help being drawn to it as his particular identity drops away.
In the final slide the Saint’s erection is no less visible, but neither woman featured is looking at it. The worshipper is bowing in prayer behind the Saint, while the scholar is looking at the viewer with a measured, neutral expression. The Saint appears as a ‘complete’ body as opposed to an organ without a body. He has a face, hands in the 'orans' position, legs, and appears almost innocent. The gaze is transformed from the male variety to the female. The viewer no longer is drawn to the Saint's erection alone, but now to the figure of a vagina that is formed by edges of the Saint’s cloak and the exposed portions of his torso (a gestalt of sorts that represents female drive and ultimate power not limited to desire).
The final slide is from a different place and 500 years in the future. It features the original black & white photo of the Saint as the centrepiece of devotion (notice the woman to the left, bowing) as well as research (represented by the young, bespectacled woman to the right). The clinical and ‘sacred’ quality and mood of this final slide is in stark contrast to the previous five: although the Saint is in the midst of the young women, he has become the object of intellectual and spiritual interest and devotion rather than of physical attraction— effectively, he has been ‘translated’. His extraction from the obscene colouring (enfleshing) has not caused his erection to subside; instead, his erection is suited to a new purpose. The change in purpose exemplifies repentance, and in turn how resurrection re-orientates fleshly purposes for spiritual ones in this life with a view to participating in the life of the world to come.
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