Jan 8, 2007

I'm Sorry, Man-Made Jesus

Norbert Kox - This Is The Man (2004) [artist statement]

Norbert Kox is an artist (from Wisconsin!) whose paintings illuminate just how much the moden image of Jesus resembles a golden calf. The underlying critiqued image is Warner Sallman's version of Jesus (called Head of Christ) that was mass produced in 1940 and has subsequently become the accepted face of Jesus (no, we don't have pictures of him). "This Is The Man" incorporates the face of Sallman, a white man from Chicago, into the religious icon that Salman himself created. The new image discusses the popular and problematic projection onto the Bible that shapes modern organized religion; and marvels at the power of an artist's image to define a religion. In an environment where it is "sacreligious" to question the icon of Jesus and simplistic dichotomies splatter the critical with images of the anti-Christ, Norbert speaks truth to faith. The fervor of his belief (not the lack of it) allows him to play with religious imagery... and his challenge of blind faith paints a much more Jesus-like picture than Warner Sellman's mass-produced version.

The wording on the painting reads: This is the dupe who brought the image of the Anti Christ to the world in 1940. This is the face of Warner Sallman superimposed on his idol. Sallman plagiarized and popularized in 1924-1940. This is the image of the beast.

Even when recovering Catholics put down their rosaries, we always carry around a deeply complex mental schema that periodically ripens with moral rigidity, ritualistic behavior, and weighty iconography. A wave of this led me last night to scribble down my repentance for the day and wonder: How ridiculous would my confessions sound if I went to confession? And how long would this take me every day to write down? Here are some gems (if you are a priest, let me know what I can do to resolve these):

1) I apologize for wishing the stray eviction notice that I found belonged to my neighbor (who may or may not be a deaf drug dealer) because of the volume and incessant frequency of phone rings.

2) I apologize for deliberately waiting two hours to return a phone call because I was bitter that it take place on his terms when I was the one who had initiated the contact.

3) I apologize for being short with my mother whose efforts to get me to go to IKEA are clearly in good faith. I believed my protest to be mildly necessary in order to ease her eventual disapointment when I will not be ale to contain my negativity for the cheap consumer products when exposed to them in bulk. I am also sorry that I will probably purchase something cheap and plastic in order to satisfy her and subsequently hurt the tireless efforts of the working poor in this country.

4) I apologize for (too quickly into a phone conversation) asking my sister if she had the money to pay me back for a loan and therefore giving the impression that this was why I had called when it was really just to say hello.

5) I apologize for being too critical of the amateur DJ at the bar who was too busy playing the hip-DJ-role to be successful at her only job of seamlessly transition between songs. And for saying iTunes could do a better job.

6) I apologize for making my support for a friend contingent upon the amount (or lack of) support given to me in a similar situation, when I probably never clearly articulated the initial need.

7) I apologize for suggesting that instead of a red-and-green-Christmas-themed Ice Cream Special of the Day at Culver's, they should try a wine-flavored ice cream with little bits of communion wafer. Apparently that is sacreligious for some reason... I thought it might border on the opposite.

8) I apologize to myself for knawing on the end of a pen that I knew was my favourite, rendering it practically useless in public. And I'm sorry to my dental hygenist for my callous disregard for teeth damage that made her job harder.

9) I apologize for silently cursing the furniture salesman who sold the couch that I had decided (without telling him or making obvious) should be mine even though I no concrete plans to purchase it in a timely manner.

CocoRosie - Jesus Loves Me (sendspace mp3)

Page France - Jesus (sendspace mp3)

3 comments

At Tuesday, January 09, 2007, Blogger Katie said...

wow, very thorough confession. there's a catholic hiding under there somewhere, i just know it. ;)

 
At Wednesday, January 10, 2007, Blogger Johnny said...

I LOVE that picture of Jesus. The group home I work at is new ( well, it opened in October) so we have nothign on our walls yet, and we have to have at least 2 religous pictures, so we got some old ones from a living area that was torn down, and two of them was that famous picture of Jesus. So one is hanging in the living room now, ( we just hung it up tonight, along with other religous paraphenelia throughout the house), and I took the other one home. That's so my favorite picture of Jesus! I think it's the long flowing hair and beautiful eyes.

 
At Saturday, January 13, 2007, Anonymous kao said...

I love the 5th apology.

 

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