The Virgin of Guadalupe appears before a camera crew on a Mexican hillside. A wooden shrine is hammered to a watchtower on a deserted Soviet army base. A stonemason fixes a cross to the roof of a roadside chapel in his family’s village. Since 2008, the work of Stockholm-based artist duo Performing Pictures has taken an unexpected turn towards themes of Catholic devotion. The results are still sometimes shown in galleries, but their primary function is within the religious lives of the communities with whom they are made.
The book I made with Robert and Geska Brečević (aka Performing Pictures) is a document of this work, but also an enquiry into where it came from and the reactions it was causing among their artistic peers.
We are used to art that employs the symbols of religion in ways seemingly intended to unsettle or provoke many of those to whom these symbols matter; yet to the consumers of contemporary art, those who actually visit galleries, it is more uncomfortable to be confronted with work in which such symbols are used without the frame of provocation.
Alongside the hundreds of photographs documenting the making of this work, my contribution is one essay, four conversations with Robert and Geska, and a set of twelve poems.