Wednesday, November 22, 2006

From Jason

There is an ancient story, passed down through the generations that tells of a group of unknown disciples who witnessed the bloody crucifixion of Christ.
Not able to stay another moment in the place were their Messiah had just been crucified they packed their few belongings and left for a distant shore. With great sorrow they turned their back on the place of their birth, never to return. Instead they founded an isolated community far away from Jerusalem. On the first night that they set up camp each disciple vowed to keep the ground holy, they promised that as long as they were permitted to live they would keep the memory of Christ alive and endeavour to follow the way that he had once taught.
The community lived in great solitude for over a hundred years, spending their days reflecting upon the life of Jesus and attempting to remain faithful to his ways. All this despite the overwhelming sorrow in their hearts and the harrowing sacrifices that such a dedicated life required.
Endless days passed until at dawn one morning, a small band of missionaries stumbled upon the isolated settlement. These preachers of the Word where amazed by the community that they found, they were startled by the fact that these dedicated disciple’s of Christ had no knowledge of his resurrection and ascension. Without hesitation the missionaries gathered together the entire community and taught them about the events that had transpired after the horrific crucifixion of their Lord, telling them of His victory over sin and death and the subsequent rewards we can partake of because of this.
That evening there was a great celebration in the camp. Yet, as the night grew dark, one of the younger missionaries noticed that the leader of the community was absent. This bothered the young man and so he set out to look for the elder. After some time he eventually found the leader kneeling in the corner of a small hut, on the fringe of the village, praying and weeping.
”Why are you in such sorrow”, asked the missionary in amazement “for now is the hour for great celebration”.
”Indeed” replied the elder, who was all the while crouched on the floor, ‘this is an hour for rejoicing, but it is also a time for great sorrow”.
“For over a hundred years we have followed the ways taught to us by Christ. We emulated his teachings faithfully even though it cost us deeply, and we remained resolute despite the belief that death had defeated Him and would one day defeat us also”.
The elder slowly got to his feet and looked the missionary compassionately in the face.
”Each day we have forsaken our very lives for Him. Why? Because we judge Him wholly worthy of the sacrifice, wholly worthy of our being. You find me now, praying for myself and for my future generations, for I am fearful that we may one day follow him not because we love Him and believe him to be worthy of that love, but rather because we love ourselves and want the treasures of eternal life that he offers”.
After offering these thoughts to the young missionary, the elder left the hut and made his way to the celebration, leaving the teacher on his knees in quiet contemplation.” (Adapted from an Islamic story)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Sound of Silence

As part of Brighton Photo Biennial 2006 Fabrica will show the European premiere of Chilean artist Alfredo Jaar's The Sound of Silence, an installation focusing on the life of South African photojournalist Kevin Carter.
There is a single photographic image in Alfredo Jaar's new installation and this one image is only visible on the screen for a matter of seconds. When you enter Jaar's installation, you enter a story: a story about an individual photograph and its impact but also a story about representation and its unequal effects. As the artist says: "It is a lamentation. It’s a poem that asks about ethics of what we (photojournalists) do when we shoot pain."
Access to The Sound of Silence is carefully controlled. Upon entering the installation space, you are confronted with an unsettling narrative that raises questions about the limits of representation, of what can and should be represented and of the responsibilities not only of the individual photographer but of those who control the circulation and dissemination of the photographic image.
Jaar's work raises questions about the relationship between photography and representation; in other words, between the medium and its political implications.In a context where reality television shows and web-casting purport to democratise the means of representation, Jaar's practice is a timely reminder of the growing gulf between actual representation and its fake imitations.

David Quinn

Irish Independent, Friday 22 September 2006:
'Have you heard of the Inquisition? Stupid question. Of course you have. Have you heard of the Crusades? Ditto. Did you also know that when Crusader forces took Jerusalem in 1099 they massacred the inhabitants? Perhaps.
But have you heard of the Committee for Public Safety? Or the massacre of the people of the Vendee in France during the French Revolution? Or did you know that when Muslim forces captured the last Crusader stronghold of Acre in 1291, they massacred the inhabitants? The answer to all these questions is, almost certainly you haven't.
If you know the answer to the first set of questions, but not the second, it is because you are most likely the victim of historical propaganda which presents to the public a demonised version of Christian history, and a carefully sanitised version of what can loosely be called secular history.
In the last 200 years, and especially over the last century, secular ideologies such as Nazism and communism have been responsible for the deaths of an estimated 150 million people. That is more than all the wars of religion in all history. Communism, let it be remembered, presented itself as a humanistic ideology.
I mentioned the Committee for Public Safety a few paragraphs back. It presided over the Terror that was unleashed to 'save' the French Revolution from its enemies. The French Revolution represented the first major appearance of secular thought in history. It managed to kill more people over a few months than the various Inquisitions did over 300 years.
It killed all these people in the name of reason. But why, pray-tell, is the Inquisition a by-word for hatred and intolerance, and the far worse Committee for Public Safety is not. The reason, to borrow a cliche, is that history is written by the victors. The architects of the French Revolution, and their successors to this day, have managed to put their stamp over our history books. The people of the Vendee, incidentally, were massacred because they rose up against the brutal suppression of the Catholic Church by the revolutionaries, again in the name of 'reason'. Between one hundred thousand and two hundred thousand of them were killed for their troubles.
While the majority of Christians by now have some idea about the sometimes brutal history of their faith, the majority of secular-minded people believe implicitly in the sanitised version of their own history. If they knew a bit more about their own history they would be less ready to assume that it is only Christians who have something for which to apologise. '