ART AS A LIVING THEOLOGY

INTRODUCTION

Being a female artist and a theologian had not been an existential question until I started interrogating my position and status in the contemporary Catholic Church, itself set in the modern world. Very soon after I started my literature survey, I realised that both the Church and the "secular world" perceive themselves and each other differently, as two divergent worlds existing alongside. I cannot say I had not been aware of the clashes between civil societies and their perception of religions and vice versa; however, I thought that this misunderstanding originated in the over-exaggeration of historical problems and ignorance of the viewpoint of others. Although this has some truth, other problematic points seem not to have been discussed enough. One of these points is that both "worlds" have their own particular language; although they share the same words, their meaning is heterogenous. Therefore, I aimed to find a common language and range of symbols that would create a starting point for a mutual visual "language", one that, in its ambiguity and uncertainty, resists definite interpretations and explanations.

In my research, I propose a new approach using art to gain theological knowledge, which may help congregations grow in their understanding of Christian theology and create bridges between theoretical and practical aspects of that theology and its application in daily life. I call this approach "art as a living theology", for which I propose a method of "theological visualisation".

Stage 1: Experimental work

The experimental work consisted of three short-term art projects Light from Light, You Cannot Step into the Same River Twice, and To the End of the Age. The primary tasks were to choose the appropriate methodology, to scrutinise the research questions propounded and to identify the artistic application and art techniques utilised for the research. The projects examined the possibility of using digital technologies and installation art in a traditional church environment, which steered the focus towards purpose-specific and site-specific art practice. The experimental stage also opened questions about the identity and the position of artists in the Church.

Stage 2: Pilot project

The pilot project Ora Pro Nobis was designed to examine the preliminary outcomes of the first stage. The whole second stage covered five art projects three of which, Omitted, The Easter Story and Ora Pro Nobis were video collages. The project The Tree of Life was a photo collage, thus a similar technique was applied. The last project Crack was a workshop on painting with light and can be described as a performative real-time collage.

Stage 3: Final project

The final research project The Women of the Book was accompanied by projects Conception, The Stations of the Loss and Gloves Migration Adoption. The two latter artworks were originally independent of the main research design. However, they provided cross-references to art projects already undertaken for clarifying the research findings. The long-term final art project The women of the Book was released in two parts, of which the first was a visual storytelling in the form of a video-collage, and the second was designed as a live performance combined with a video collage projection.

EXHIBITIONS

Take Me There (pop-up exhibition): work “You Cannot Step into the Same River Twice” (installation).
Heong Gallery, Downing College, Cambridge, UK (14th May 2018).

Essential and Invisible (collective student exhibition): work “To the End of the Age” (sculptural installation).
Margaret Beaufort Institute of Theology, Cambridge, UK (14th – 21st May 2018).

The Archive and The Contested Landscape (collective exhibition): work “Omitted” (video collage).
ARU, Cambridge, UK (22nd – 28th Oct 18).

Night of the churches (follow up exhibition): work “Ora Pro Nobis” (photo collages).
Basilica of St Laurence and St Zdislava, The Czech Republic, Jablonné v Podještědí (25th May – 30th Oct 2019).

Fragmentum (collective exhibition): work “The Tree of Life” (photo collage). Screening the work “Ora Pro Nobis” (video collage).
Hegyvidék Galéria, Budapest, Hungary (12th Sep – 3rd Oct 2019).

Fragmentum: Photography Beyond Perception (chamber exhibition): work “The Tree of Life” (photo collage).
Blackfriars priory, Cambridge, UK (25th – 27th Oct 2019).

Sustainability Art Prize (virtual exhibition): the work “Gloves Migration Adoption” (fake campaign – photo collage).
ARU, online (Sep 2020).

Performances

Night of the churches: work “Ora Pro Nobis” (light installation).
Basilica of St Laurence and St Zdislava, The Czech Republic, Jablonné v Podještědí (25th May 2019).

Public online event: work “Stations of the Loos” (shared meditations on real time posted photos).
Online on Facebook (14th Feb 2020).

Public  event: work “The Women of the Book” (video collage and dance).
Fisher House, Cambridge (30th Oct 2021).

Visual meditations

Ecumenical gathering of Cambridge Theological Federation: work “The Easter Story” (video collage).
UK, Cambridge (23rd Apr 2019).

Spiritual retreat for Catholic women: work: “Conception” (video collage).
UK, Cambridge (14th Dec 2019).

Workshops

Art workshop organised by the Slovak Dominican Family: theme “Crack” (painting with light).
Slovakia, Banská Štiavnica (24th March 2019).

Research projects