Past Exhibition

Ex-Voto

Various - 6 February to 20 March 2009

Lilibeth Cuenca, Holy Wood (2005). Still from film.

Lilibeth Cuenca, Holy Wood (2005). Still from film.

John Angerson, from the series Love, Power, Sacrifice. Life with the Jesus Army (2007).

John Angerson, from the series Love, Power, Sacrifice. Life with the Jesus Army (2007).

Thurs 5th Feb, 7pm-9pm

Belfast Exposed is proud to present a new, occasional exhibition series, in which an external curator will be invited to develop an exhibition in the gallery. The first project is by Belfast-based Hugh Mulholland, Director of the third space gallery and freelance curator.

In an increasingly secular world there is growing discomfort with religious belief, which is sometimes seen as outmoded and divisive, with those who give themselves over to it regarded as self-delusional.

This exhibition brings together the work of three contemporary artists with a series of ex-voto paintings, dating from the mid 1800s to the present day.  The work in the exhibition offers insights into the emotional and spiritual power of the mass Christian fundamentalist movement and sects such as the 'Jesus Army', as well as the individual acts of faith of those on personal pilgrimages and the simple offerings given in thanksgiving for a prayer answered.

The blind faith of those depicted in the works acts as a counter to those such as Richard Dawkins, who proselytise against faith announcing, “I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world”.

Lilibeth Cuenca works primarily in the field of new media such as video and computer animation. Although her videos are inspired by documentary, she twists the genre with her aesthetic intention, for example, split-screen and repetition in relation to the visual and auditory elements. In this exhibition, Rasmussen investigates the group versus the individual in society and how the individual responds to social or religious rituals.

Tommaso Bonaventura’s work records the journeys of thousands of pilgrims who every year crisscross Europe on their way to places with evocative names such as Lourdes or Santiago de Compostela. Alone or in groups, they follow pilgrimage routes doing penance for their sins in hope of a miracle or as a personal challenge and spiritual journey. Bonaventura photographed these pilgrims on their travels, the roots of which lie more than a millennium back in history.

John Angerson has been working on his portrait of the Jesus Army for twenty years. This evangelical sect was founded in Northamptonshire, England, in 1969. The Jesus Army has proven highly successful with its emotional, comprehensive brand of religious experience. The members are often previously addicts or criminals and give up all private property, live in communes and share their incomes. Thus, the Jesus Army provides them with a new start. Angerson has made an intimate portrait of the movement, which for him represents the revival of fundamentalist religions all over the world.

Ex-Voto Paintings
The ex-votos in this exhibition come mainly from Mexico, often taking the form of folk art. The ex-voto is signed, dated and includes an explanation of why the giver is giving thanks. It is then left at a church altar.  They are very public, yet very personal professions of faith in God and thanks for favours received.

Hugh Mulholland is Director of the third space gallery Belfast and freelance curator. Hugh was commissioner of the inaugural Northern Irish Pavilion at the 2005 Venice Biennale and also curated the Northern Ireland presence at the 2007 Biennale. He was Director of the Ormeau Baths Gallery, Belfast from 1997 to 2006, and was previously the founder and Director of Context Gallery in Derry. He has curated major exhibitions by prominet international artists including Bill Viola, Hans Peter Kuhn, Stan Douglas, Willie Doherty and Yoko Ono

Acknowledgements
Ex Voto is supported by Arts Council Northern Ireland, Department for Social Development, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and Belfast City Council.